In just a few months, Wenbo Wang had visited several big names in Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. He’s been to SkyDeck, WeWork and LinkedIn, just to name a few. WeWork was his favourite.
“It has been one of the fastest growing shared-space companies, and its mission really resonates with me: ‘Create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living,’” he shares. “Getting first-hand insight on what they do is absolutely exciting!”
Entrepreneurship comes to life with the Berkeley Haas Global Access Programme (BHGAP).
Offered by the Haas School of Business and Berkeley Global— the continuing education school of the #1 public global university — BHGAP is a programme that makes the most of learning within and beyond classrooms.
Students get to pick the minds of Berkeley Haas’ top-notch faculty and network with the innovative ecosystem of the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Through BHGAP, top-qualifying international students from both business and non-business backgrounds gain the knowledge, skills and connections necessary to excel as tomorrow’s innovators and global leaders.
For many students, the company visits are the programme’s high point. “Although the classroom experiences are truly fantastic and mind-blowing, what makes BHGAP unique is that it provides students opportunities to personally experience and be immersed in leading businesses through company site visits,” Wang, a finance student from Beijing Foreign Studies University, enthuses.
Don’t confuse the company site visits with an old-fashioned field trip. This is an opportunity to get a foot in the door. Site visits aim to help demystify the process of career transition. How is this achieved? By exposing students to different work environments and enabling them to learn about career transitions directly from company employees.
During these visits, students hear firsthand from entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Seeing firms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Mozilla, Oracle and many others in action, they get to learn directly from entrepreneurs, founders and employees. For example, they discover how Mozilla’s free and open-source web browser, Firefox, came into being. They gain insights in how to boost their own LinkedIn profiles. They get to play with Unity Technologies’ game engine — a real-time tool that is geared for game developers and creators across industries and applications.
What follows is a distinctive growth few other universities can replicate. “The site visits we had this semester were mind-opening and inspirational in a way I could have never imagined before I applied to BHGAP,” explains Natàlia Costa i Coromina from Spain. “Even now, I feel like words cannot capture how much I learned from all the founders, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, workers and incubators of immensely diverse companies.”
As for Mike Arnold from Germany, he loved the combination of the company site visits with different cultures and people from all over the world in one place. “It’s just an amazing experience,” he shares.
Dynamic, experiential, distinctive
BHGAP’s curriculum varies according to each intake. This year’s Fall Core Courses include: Thriving at Haas and Beyond; Introduction to Entrepreneurship; Negotiation and Conflict Resolution; and Blockchain and the Future of Technology, Business and Law. Students can choose from electives such as Opportunity Recognition: Technology and Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley; High-Technology Marketing Management; Pricing; and Leadership Communications. “The classes definitely had an impact on me, questioning my decision-making processes and the way I think,” shares German graduate Markus Bendele.
Markus’ favourite class was Decision Making, taught by a “charismatic and humorous genius.” “At the beginning of the class, we were asked to do a survey with tonnes of psychological questions,” he explains. “Professor Barry Schwartz then uses those results in his lectures and shows how biased we as humans are and why our most rational decisions might not necessarily be the best ones concerning our overall well-being.”
BHGAP is not just about academics and the Bay Area. It is also about the diversity that students experience as they meet peers from across the globe who are passionate about leaving a legacy in this world. “I have met some of the kindest, smartest and funniest people,” says graduate Karin Szu. “We grew closer through weekend getaways, dinners, late-night study sessions and deep conversations.”
If you’re an adventure seeker and committed to higher learning, then Berkeley Global is for you. “There is a lot of fun stuff to do around the Bay Area, and even though my workweek is packed with essays, readings and group projects, I often go on adventures with my new international friends,” Bendele shares.
If you’re into rollercoasters and haunted houses, the nearby Six Flags amusement park is just a 30-minute drive away. The BHGAP may be a five-month programme, but students graduate with a lifetime of memories.