For many American students in higher education, our minds rest at night full of silicon-covered dreams about the perfect job at that Goog-ly startup filled with young people, tech-gurus, and work that innovates the next big thing. It makes sense that the best students are flocking towards the Valley. The Valley has dominated technology and innovation in America for years now. The irony is that a place known for innovation and creating is the modern day example of a failed old time ideal. Allowing the Valley to be the make it or break it location for startups hinders innovation and drains opportunity from other parts of the country.
It is time to provide some healthy competition to the Valley. Enter, Washington, DC. When you think Capitol Hill you probably do not think tech. Images of bickering congressmen, lawyers and wonks probably pop into your mind. The home of the federal government offers much more than just politics though. I started University in the DC area thinking that when I graduate I would be heading for a job on Capitol Hill. I wanted to be one of the people with a nice suit, good looking hair and a team of staff members working for me, because those were the people who made an impact. From my time in class, to my experience in being a part of the city, to my time here at Eastern Foundry, my goals have had a complete paradigm shift. Words and wonks strife to make change, but too often end in gridlocks and soapboxes. Tech is what makes the government and America run. Finding the opportunities to do what you love, in America’s booming tech procurement industry, is where the real impact happens. It is an opportunity that can produce real results of change (without any filibusters). Once you’re in the DC tech scene you can really feel the energy and motion that startups like Eastern Foundry and others are creating. The government wants the next big tech just as much as South Bay and you can make it happen.
Unlike the Valley, what the government wants likely does not involve a new search engine, camera filter or any angry birds. The government needs tech to help innovate the defense, infrastructure, functionality, education and change in our country now. In FY2015 alone there has been 300 billion dollars awarded in contracts and trillions more in additional funding to contractors. Opportunity is here so the question is, why aren’t we sending more of our enthusiastic, innovative and motivated college graduates to what could be Silicon Hill. The answer is simple, the Goog-ly conceptions of Silicon Valley sound sexy on the surface and have household names of giants, like Google and Apple, in association. Opportunity is not limited to a single geographic location though. Students and graduates should consider the major change their ambitions could make on tech but also the country through government contracting. With new legislation and a push from the government to provide more focus on contracting to small businesses and startups, the opportunities for innovation, success, growth and revenue are greater than ever. Washington already has a framework to be the next big tech-hub and the potential to keep Silicon Valley on it’s toes. Students should consider, is it time to challenge the Valley? Absolutely, America loves competition and even more, a good underdog.