When UCSB alumnus Maia Kurland started her new job in January, she found herself in a work atmosphere with people she deems “incredibly intelligent” and “genuinely driven,” following the simple motto #LoveWhereYouWork.

“It’s weird — not everyone gets to have this. I get to go to a place where I look forward to waking up and going to work because I’m enjoying what I’m doing,” Kurland said. “I feel lucky to be in this environment.”

Business Insider recently ranked UCSB eighth on its list of “The 20 universities that are most likely to land you a job in Silicon Valley,” beating out schools like Carnegie Mellon, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego and the University of Southern California. Kurland is one of many UCSB graduates employed in the area, where she works for an inside sales team at one of the Silicon Valley’s largest internet giants: Twitter.

UCSB’s Computer Science Department Chair Ambuj Singh said he believes a large number of UCSB graduates find employment opportunities in Silicon Valley companies because of their connections to UCSB computer science alumni and faculty members already working at technology companies there.

“I think it’s no secret that we have built a strong pipeline to the Silicon Valley,” Singh said. “Once you have that kind of relationship going, it just makes it easier.”

Singh also said computer science faculty members start their own small tech companies, which inspires students to pursue jobs at startups and prepares them to work in the Silicon Valley.

“A number of faculty members really are quite busy with startups,” Singh said. “They bring up this culture of trying to do new things and working at new companies.”

UCSB Career Service Associate Director Emily White said major Silicon Valley companies like Google, Oracle and Hulu frequently come to the on-campus career fairs and post on the online job board to find new applicants.

“Silicon Valley companies are some of the biggest companies that are coming to UCSB,” White said. “We have a lot of companies from the Silicon Valley posting onto the job board — tiny companies to big, huge companies like Google and Facebook.”

According to White, recruiters value UCSB students because employers believe they not only have “great technical skills” but they also possess “great people skills” and communication skills.

“What I hear from a lot of companies is that our students are really well-rounded,” White said. “They think our students have great personalities.”

Third-year computer engineering major Garrison Carter said he began his internship with Hewlett-Packard (HP) in June as one of six selected from a pool of 500 applicants. According to Carter, being a “well-rounded” student athlete on UCSB’s cycling team is what set him apart from the many applicants.

“According to my managers, they were looking for someone who was well rounded and could manage their time between multiple different tasks well,” Carter said in an email. “They also were looking for UC students who not only had the skills needed for the job, but also had experience in real world situations.”

Carter also said HP looked highly upon him because of his hands-on experiences and education in UCSB’s College of Engineering.

“[HP] viewed me being a student at UCSB as a positive because they said our university focuses on both academics and its real world applications,” Carter said in an email.

According to Kurland, Silicon Valley companies like Twitter, LinkedIn, HP and Facebook provide their employees with “extra perks” that are hardly found in any other workplace, such as a gymnasium on company grounds or the motivational phrases around the offices.

“It’s an exciting world to be in because it is rare,” Kurland said. “Even now that I’m eight months in, I still get home and I feel grateful to work at Twitter.”

Kurland said attending a large university like UCSB taught her the value of self-reliance.

“Having a school that large, there are no people there to hold your hand the whole way,” Kurland said. “It gave me motivation to realize that I’m going to figure it out alone.”

Kurland said her biggest takeaway from being a student at UCSB was the confidence to independently pursue whatever career path she chose.

“When I was applying, I knew I wanted a sales job because I wanted to learn a new skillset,” Kurland said. “That’s the thing — that kind of independence. UCSB prepared me for that kind of independence.”

A version of this story appeared on page 5 of Thursday, July 30, 2015’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.