This spring semester, I was lucky enough to be asked to be the moderator of the Honors Colloquium program at Viterbi and a part of my job as moderator was to find half the speakers to come in every Friday to first have lunch with a small group of students and then speak to the whole class. Being a freshman and not from the LA area, my network in the LA area and the tech scene here was not that strong, so the process of finding interesting speakers started out slow. I sent out fifty or so emails to interesting people I found in the LA tech scene from magazine article features or Google searches but the responses that I were getting were not promising.
At one point, I was so frustrated that I decided to go to LinkedIn and just searched ‘tech’. To my great surprise, I was able to narrow that search down to the LA area and even the USC community! Within a week or so, I was able to fill the remaining 5 speaker spots, including a tech VC from one of the largest venture capital firms in Southern California, a patent lawyer that gave the whole class an air-tight NDA outline free of charge, and even the CEO of BlueRobotics, one of the main sponsors of our Underwater Robotics Team.
After this semester, I now have personal connections to many of these speakers and are currently working with two of them on personal projects. Although stressful at times, being the moderator for colloquium has been one of the most rewarding and interesting experiences that I’ve had at USC!