A man in a dark jumper sits in front of a computer screen that is filled with lines of code.
Image: Aravind Jayadev Menon

How this former UCD student ended up working in Silicon Valley

23 Jan 2020

Aravind Jayadev Menon discusses his journey from studying at UCD to working at car rental start-up Getaround in Silicon Valley.

For anyone studying software engineering or any other tech discipline, working in Silicon Valley might seem like an exciting but ambitious goal. Filled with emerging start-ups and tech giants, the ever-growing community in the southern San Francisco Bay Area is teeming with opportunities, but the logistical aspects of making the move can present massive considerations.

Click here to check out the top sci-tech employers hiring right now.

Aravind Jayadev Menon spoke to us about a programme that helped him get there. Having studied at University College Dublin (UCD) before moving to Imperial College London, he secured a place on the Silicon Valley Internship Programme (SVIP).

The programme matches successful applicants with high-growth tech companies, and saw Menon join the team at car-sharing firm Getaround.

So, how has his Silicon Valley experience been going so far?

‘The year in San Francisco is challenging but lots of fun, and opportunities to learn and grow are limitless’

What did you study in college?

I studied actuarial and financial studies at UCD between 2012 and 2016. In my course, we learned a lot of statistical knowledge as well as how to code. I subsequently went to Imperial College in London and did a master’s degree in machine learning, further honing my coding skills.

How did you end up undertaking the internship programme?  

My friend applied to SVIP while I was at Imperial, and came over to San Francisco in 2018. He had rave reviews about how great of a city it is and how much he was enjoying himself here. After returning to Ireland and working at Liberty Insurance for a few months, I decided to apply to go join him here.

Did you find it challenging?

The year in San Francisco is challenging but lots of fun, and opportunities to learn and grow are limitless. It really is an incredible city and there is something for everyone. Also, being here during the tech and AI revolution, you really feel in awe of all the growth that you see around you. So the challenge is surely worth it!

What did you enjoy most about it?

As opposed to most of the companies I have worked at, the SVIP programme pairs successful candidates up with start-ups. Hence, you instantly feel a lot more responsibility for the work you do, and you are forced to learn quicker. That has been the most enjoyable part of the experience for me.

Would you recommend the programme to others?

I would recommend this programme to anyone who gets excited by start-ups and tech, and wants to live and work in one of the most happening cities in the world.

Does it help participants in ways other than giving their career a boost?  

By participating in this programme, you learn skills much quicker than any traditional graduate role in Europe. Those who choose to return are some of the most employable engineers in Europe.

What kind of companies are involved with the programme?  

Most of the companies on the programme are small start-ups with about 10 to 20 employees. However, some of the companies are much bigger, with multiple offices around the world. The company I am working for – Getaround – has offices across the US and Europe, and has over 300 employees.

How and where can people apply?

Applications are now open on the website.

Do you have any words of advice for someone who might be interested, but is nervous about applying?  

If you are genuinely interested in start-ups and excited about coming to Silicon Valley, please do apply! Enthusiasm and passion are a lot more important for us than any prior experience.

What’s your plan for when you’re finished the programme?

I still haven’t decided what I shall do at the end of the programme. I might return to Ireland and work remotely for my company or think about extending my stay in the US. I have also considered using the skills I have learned here to build a company in Europe.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading