Student Stories – Ebu Ogden (Software Engineering and Quality)

Ebu Ogden is a Software Engineering and Quality certificate student at UCSC Extension.
Tell us about your journey.

I came to the United States in September 2016. I spent a month in D.C. with my family before coming to California to look at my school’s location and to meet the people I was going to stay with. My course started in October. I studied English for 6 months.

What is program of study here?

I was going to do Internet Programming and Development first, but after I talked to Daniel Heckmyer (campus manager with EC Higher Education), he suggested I change my certificate to Software Engineering and Quality. It was more efficient for me than Internet Programming and Development because I already knew most of the classes in that program.

What was your favorite class?

Data Structures and Algorithms, because it was so hard. It was challenging. It was my favorite because I like challenges, I like problems, I like puzzles and I like to solve them. The problems in that class were from the real world. For example, interview questions from Apple, or Google, or Facebook.

Have you been able to use that knowledge in interviews?

I was interviewed by Facebook and Google while I was taking that class. I got an email from Facebook in April 2017. They found me on LinkedIn so they asked me, like, are you able to consider a position as software engineer? I said yes, sure, why not. So we arranged a phone interview. They ask you about your personality, your goals in life, what are your plans, why would you work with us. I mentioned some projects I had done. The interviewer was impressed. Like, I had developed a robotic arm. So she arranged a date for the next interview. I studied for a month. At the interview, I solved the problem which was so similar to the questions we were seeing in the class. I asked my instructor for advice too. He joked and said, “actually you should have finished your class first if you want to pass that.” I solved the problem but it wasn’t enough in the time. Maybe they didn’t like my approach to the question – you know, it could be different. But that was the first interview! In my life! I haven’t been interviewed before. First time, Facebook, pretty good, right?

Did you get support from other people too?

I said to Daniel, I will be interviewing with Facebook. He said, “have you prepared questions to ask them?” So we went over the questions I had prepared and he gave me good advice. Actually, they were pretty impressed with my questions, too.

You’re doing an internship right now.

Yes. The company’s name is BCL technologies and the interview phase was actually exactly the same as at Facebook. I was interviewed three times. But with my experience from Facebook, I was able to react really well. For example, in the technical interview, the link they gave me was down, so I solved the problem by talking. The third round was a lunch to get to know each other. We only talked about the job for about two minutes. Then we talked about theater, movies, schools, education, other stuff.

What do you do at BCL Technologies?

The details are confidential. But I can really bring knowledge I have gained from working on personal projects into this.

Do you think that the English classes helped you prepare for the internship or certificate program?

My English level was so low when I first came. I had learned English from games. The best part about the classes here, was the Certificate and Internship preparation class: real English, working English, how to prepare for an interview, but also social language. That helped me prepare for interviews but also for meeting people at my office – we can chat in the kitchen, it’s so easy now to make new connections.

There are 4,000 universities for Bachelor or Master programs in the U.S. alone, plus Australia, Canada, New Zealand that attract international students. Do you feel like you have made a good choice in coming to UCSC Extension through partnership with EC Higher Education?

Yes, because of the education that I got. The instructors were from the real industry. They are experts in their professions, so they told us about real world problems, from the perspective of the big companies. Like I had an instructor from LinkedIn. That’s why I’m happy about the education.

What is something new you have learned?

Elevator pitch. A very short introduction of yourself or a product. It’s important to know the culture and to know how to adapt and to merge what you know into a real conversation.

What have you enjoyed about the UCSC Certificate program?

I met great people here, from other countries. I learned a lot from other cultures. Like, in English classes, I made Chinese friends, we still meet up at their homes to eat hotpot. I wasn’t able to use chopsticks, now I’m an expert. We went to San Diego together during Christmas. It was fun.

What do you enjoy about living in Silicon Valley?

I love the diversity. The weather, also. People are so open minded. They don’t mind what you’re doing as long as you’re not harming someone or something. These are things that make you want to live here.

Student stories – Dan Wu (Accounting)

Dan Wu is an accounting student at UCSC Extension in Santa Clara
Dan Wu is an accounting student at UCSC Extension, Santa Clara.

Dan Wu is an Accounting student from China.

Tell us about your journey: when did you first arrive in the Silicon Valley? When did you start your certificate program?

I first arrived in the Silicon Valley in September 2016 and started my certificate program in January 2017. I enrolled in English classes in October 2016 and graduated with proficiency level later on.

My certificate program now is Accounting, as well as CPA Exam Preparation non-certificate program.

Have you done an internship? What was your internship like?

I did my internship in a start-up company as an accounting manager assistant. My job was to keep track of all expenses incurred and reconcile bank statements, as well as finish tasks as assigned. I found this internship through a job fair hosted by our school.

How did English classes prepare you for your certificate program?

I would say English classes have helped improve my English in various ways for both of my certificate program and internship. The textbooks are well selected; the course modules are well organized; the weight in different language skills is well balanced; the class forms are well designed.

Personally, I think the News Report tasks were the most challenging practice for me, which was also the best practice to prepare me for speaking and presenting with confidence in the certificate program classes. Besides, the vocabulary and expressions, as well as business and social etiquette, are key to performing professionally in my internship.

English classes are not only a language skills builder but also a confidence builder. They give you a cushion to buffer the obstacles in academic and professional English that you might have come across in certificate classes. I cannot emphasis enough the importance of learning English well for both inside and outside the classroom. Take the most of English classes and you will be surprised how much they can change your life in the states.

What do you enjoy about the UCSC certificate program?

The UCSC certificate programs are practical and useful. What you learn here is something you can apply in your job directly. Instructors are very friendly willing to share. They strive to help you learn.

What do you enjoy about the Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley is a very dynamic area, as well as its people. What I enjoy most are the people here being open-minded, initiative, innovative, and inspirational.


Student stories – Genki Nemoto (Linux Administration)

Genki Nemoto is a Linux Administration student from Japan at UCSC Extension, Santa Clara.

What has your journey been like? When did you first arrive? What are you doing now?

I came here in September of 2016. I studied English for 6 months and after that I came to UCSC Extension to study computer science. But after taking a few classes I realized that my English was not enough to keep up with the classes. That’s why I decided to take more English classes at EC English at UCSC Extension. Right now I am doing an internship at a local company. It’s a small company but there are many people who have great skills. That’s why I’m really comfortable there.

What is your program of study?

My certificate program is Linux administration.

While you were in the program, what was your favorite class?

The Linux administration classes that will help me to become an expert in Linux administration. Before coming to this school I already knew coding but this course provided me with a lot of the tools and basic concepts to manage Linux. It was new to me.

Tell us about your internship. How did you find it?

The Campus Manager sent my resume to local companies and they actually called me.

What was the interview like?

They asked me what I was doing at this school and why I am studying Linux. I had a lot of programming knowledge already but Linux is different. I told them that in order to become a good engineer or programmer I needed to study the fundamental platform.

What do you do in your internship?

The project I am supposed to join hasn’t started yet. We are preparing for it. So I am doing a lot of research to prepare. I work for around 7 hours a day, 3 times a week.

Are you taking classes at the same time?

Yes. I’m taking an AWS class (Amazon Web Services) – it doesn’t relate to Linux administration but AWS is very much in demand these days, that’s why I chose this class.

How did the English classes help to prepare you for the internship or the certificate program?

They provided us with so many opportunities to present in front of people. That was really useful.

What do you enjoy about the certificate program?

I studied a lot of new technologies and also connected with local professionals who work for companies in this area.

What do you like about the Silicon Valley?

One interesting thing is that there is so much variety here. Many different kinds of people come here. I think it is a very unusual place.

Student stories – Ady Liang (Biotechnology)

Ady Liang is a Biotechnology certificate student at UCSC Extension, Santa Clara.

Ady Liang, a Biotechnology certificate student, at a networking event in San Francisco.
Ady Liang, a Biotechnology certificate student, at a networking event in San Francisco.

Tell us about your journey. When did you arrive? What are doing now?

I am from China and I arrived in the Silicon Valley last year, in September of 2016. I am in the Biotechnology certificate program now. This is the last week of the second quarter. There are three quarters in the certificate program.
When I first came here in September of 2016 I studied English for six months. I advanced a lot, I think: when I first came here I could not communicate well, but now I am confident enough to communicate, send emails, and write essays. I started the certificate program in March. Now I have been in the certificate program for half a year.

What has been your favorite class so far?
My favorite class has been GCP: Good Clinical Practices. The teacher is amazing. It is a course about conducting drug trials. The teacher – Dr Singh– is really great.

How did the English classes help you to prepare for the certificate program?
The English program helped a lot. I have to write a lot of essays. For my immunology class I have to write five essays. The class is just ten weeks long but there are five essays and one presentation. I had never presented in front of people before I came here. In the English class we practiced presenting a lot. In the advanced English class, we gave presentations almost every week. So now I have a lot more confidence.

What is something new you have learned from your certificate program classes that you will use in the future?

For me a new topic is DNA sequencing. I worked in the base-unit of the Chinese CDC and we used a different method of DNA sequencing. Even though I worked in a lab for 10 years, I only knew the theory. When I started this certificate, I learned a lot about DNA sequencing methods. The teacher kept telling me, “Ady, you will find that there is an amazing industry in China that uses this method now.” So when I go back I will be very well prepared.

What do you enjoy about the program?

There isn’t much pressure. Just two or three classes a week. I can handle that easily. I had been very worried about that. Because my English wasn’t that great when I first arrived and Biotech is fairly academic, I was worried I couldn’t keep up with the teachers. But it works for me. I can understand, I can finish my homework, I read my textbooks – if there is vocabulary I don’t understand, I just translate it and realize, “Oh, that’s it!”

What do you enjoy about this area?

I like the weather! I lived in the South of China where it’s very hot. But here it’s very comfortable. There are many events, too. You can meet a lot of people. They live very freely and work very freely.

What is something you have learned about life or for life?

Try your best. Do everything you can do.

TESLA Factory tour by Sneha

Student Name: Sneha

It’s not possible to get a chance to visit a car manufacturing factory every day. Last month, under the guidance of the Program Manager of the English Language Institute at UCSC-Extension, we visited the factory of TESLA which manufactures electric cars. This visit and tour helped me to realize that I am now living in the center of new technologies.  The aim of TESLA is to build affordable and zero emission electric powered cars and transform energy consumption. On our arrival at the factory, we were warmly greeted by a special welcome team and provided with a delicious breakfast. I was very excited when we entered the auditorium as the latest model 3 TESLA cars were being exhibited. One employee, who was an expert in the design of car batteries, gave us introductory speech, introduced the different models, and described some of the basic design concepts.

After the introductions, presentations, and breakfast was complete, our group entered the factory.  However before starting our factory tour, one of the team members took us through the rules and regulations of the tour including important information such as the fact that photos and videos were not permitted. Finally, we embarked on a tour inside the factory and showed each section of the factory.

The factory in Fremont, California, is quite large.  I observed many types of machinery, raw materials, and accessories which I had never seen before. Around 10,000 workers were spread throughout the factory. For my first time, I was surprised to see robots. It was an awesome experience to see how robots work together with humans! It is impossible to describe the integration of machines with workers.  Suffice to say, it took my breath away!! The gigantic robots were assembling, moving, and lifting the cars.

We learned that all cars are connected and that the company collects continuous data and also monitors each car. As a data base analyst, I was curious to know where the company saves and manages these huge amounts of data, but this was not covered in the tour.

After visiting the factory, we were served a delicious lunch. The interior of a dining hall was very beautiful and professional.  After lunch, we had a Q&A section with the head designer Franz.  At the end of the day, we were all given a gift which was original design prints.

It was an amazing experience which went beyond my expectations!!  I realized that we all can contribute our efforts to conserve the environment by driving emission free cars.

I truly appreciate UCSC-Extension and EC Silicon Valley for making this visit a reality.

TESLA VIP Tour with UCSC-Extension Students

Why study English or complete a Certificate Program in Silicon Valley?  If you are a business professional like Liang Ma from China, there is no other program which gives you access to internships, OPT, and company visits like UCSC-Extension.  Here is a review that Bruce, Liang Ma, wrote after he went on a VIP tour of the TESLA factory with the UCSC-Extension Program Manager.

Student: Bruce
Date: 7th July, 2017

As we know, Model 3 cars are very popular in the world. I suppose that a tour to visit the production lines is enticing for anyone. It was a fantastic tour for me, and I also had wonderful VIP catered lunch. I was especially excited when I visited the Model 3 production lines.

Before we visited the production lines of the Tesla factory in Fremont, an engineer introduced Tesla’s history and the technologies used in Tesla electric cars. Firstly, Model 3 cars are equipped with the most advanced batteries. If a car is full of electricity, it can be driven for 280 miles. Supercharge stations can also completely charge a car in an hour.  This data illustrates that Tesla has broken through crucial battery technologies . On the other hand, the guarantee of a car’s battery is ten years, which greatly eliminates the worries about batteries for consumers. Secondly, people can use solar energy to charge their cars at home by establishing a conversion system, and it means that the expense of a vehicle will be largely reduced.  I was also amazed to find out that Model 3 Cars can be parked automatically by autopilots. Although Model 3 cars are not fully autonomous vehicles, they are closer to making that a reality and these features can satisfy consumers’ expectations at this time.

When we entered the production workshop, I was amazed by the scene. The workshop was very big, and it took us an hour to go around the entire factory in a guided train tour.  The tour guide introduced the main processes used to produce the cars.  There was a lot of automation which did most of the busy work.  Plenty of parts were being produced, such as; batteries, trunks, and doors etc. Many cars were being assembled by a combination of automation and workers. A production line has many processes, and cars were carried by a long conveyor belt from one process to the next.

After we had lunch, the chief executive designer, Franz von Holzhausen, gave us a wonderful presentation about some of his ideas for designing Tesla Model 3, such as colors, styles, and functions etc. Although design is an abstract subject, I was able to understand some of his ideas in designing Tesla Model 3. We also received collector prints of the original designs of various Tesla models!!

Overall, I attained much valuable knowledge about Tesla Model 3 during this tour. This is my first time that I have visited any vehicle production factory. I think it was a very meaningful activity for students. I hope that I can attend more of these activities organized by the school later.

Stanford University Trip

UCSC Silicon Valley Campus is located in the heart of Silicon Valley which gives our students so many opportunities to participate in professional development.  Recently, a group of EC Silicon Valley @ UCSC-Extension students took a field trip to Stanford Campus to visit the Cantor Arts Center. The students spent two hours looking at the galleries.

First, the group admired artifacts from China and other parts of Asia, ranging from ancient to modern. The group talked about different artistic techniques, for example, painting dainty glass bottles from the inside; the historical uses of polished copper and silver mirrors; the significance of materials such as jade and ivory in Chinese culture and history; and artistic techniques such as engraving.

Students are looking at galleries

The group then moved on to the Rodin sculpture galleries and joined a tour group to learn about Auguste Rodin’s work. Finally, the group visited the second floor of the museum in which different artistic styles from different eras were shown. The group discussed different styles of painting, particularly portraits – old and contemporary – and talked about the meaning of abstract art. Finally, the group jokingly voted for which painting they might purchase if they were rich and had a lot of space in their homes.

Students are discussing artwork


After about two hours of browsing the galleries, the group took a short walk across campus to the campus bookstore. On the way, the group discussed the history of Stanford university and the difference between private and public universities. Under the beautiful arcades of the Spanish-mission-style buildings, the group took a few pictures and selfies and then settled down for lunch in the shade near the campus book store. After a brief look around the store the group stopped by the lavishly decorated campus church.

Students took pictures around Stanford campus before going home

Welcome to UCSC Silicon Valley Campus

Welcome to Silicon Valley!!! And welcome to the blog for EC Higher Education, the International Recruitment and English Language Provider for UCSC-Extension.  Here at UCSC-Extension we offer 9 month certificate programs in the heart of Silicon Valley.  All of our 9-month (3 quarter) programs include the options for internships and one year of OPT.   We have redesigned our programs to meet the needs of international students.  We will walk you through the process and assist you with every step to make sure you are successful in your Certificate program and ultimately, successful in changing your career.

For international students, our English program is specifically geared to prepare you for your Certificate program as well as give you the tools you need to be successful in finding internships and OPT opportunities.  At the Pre-Advanced level, TOEFL 66-79, it is a 12 week (1 quarter) preparation course which focuses not only on Academic English, but also business skills such as; networking, US style resume, cover letter, applying for a job,  and interviewing.  For students at the Upper Intermediate level, it is a 12 week course for which the special focus class will teach you the skills you need to be successful in your University program such as; pair and group work, presentations, note-taking, plagiarism and citing sources, and academic vocabulary.

Please make sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook to learn more about our program and see some of the activities we are doing.  We hope that you will choose UCSC-Extension certificate programs for your educational and career needs.


Daniel Heckmyer
ELI Program Manager