Editor's note: The Berkeley Haas Global Access Program brings international students to Berkeley for an interdisciplinary study of business administration and related fields and concentrations. This post originally appeared in German on the College Contact website. It has been edited for clarity and length.
Innovation, technology and entrepreneurship not only characterize Silicon Valley, but also the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program, an exclusive one- or two-semester course allowing international students to study at the prestigious Haas School of Business and immerse themselves in the culture, mindset and activities of the Silicon Valley. BHGAP Director Alex Budak visited Germany and talked to us about the program, workshops offered and the benefits of attending the University of California, Berkeley.
The Berkeley Haas Global Access Program allows German students to study for a semester abroad at the prestigious Berkeley Haas School of Business. Why is this a special experience and a unique opportunity for you?
Alex Budak: I am very happy to be able to tell you about the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program. The program unites the excellence of the Haas School of Business with the very best of the Silicon Valley and makes this learning accessible to the most successful students around the world. From the beginning we thought: What is special about UC Berkeley? What is special about Silicon Valley? Further, how do we combine these unique strengths in one program? That's how we designed the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program. It consists of courses on entrepreneurship, innovation, technology and business management. Students do not just read or hear about start-up companies; they visit Silicon Valley and meet Berkeley graduates working in start-ups, and gain insight into why Silicon Valley and the Bay Area are so special.
How is the BHGAP program structured and which courses can international students attend?
Alex Budak: We welcome the best students in the world. You can take courses from the Berkeley Haas program, each with its own set of unique classes. For instance, one of the courses for BHGAP is called Opportunity Recognition: Maybe you're in a lab right now or you're on the road and you come up with a brilliant business idea. How do you know that it really is a great business idea? Moreover, how are you taking the first steps to turn the idea into a successful start-up business? In addition, we also offer a course on Marketing Strategy in a World of Digital Disruption. This exciting course is about how we can use social media and viral marketing to attract attention in this crazy, chaotic, loud, fast-paced world, epitomizing Berkeley and the Bay Area. This course is particularly exciting and encourages students to leave their comfort zone. It is likely that these students have never dealt with this unconventional process—thus, this course will influence their ways of thinking in a future-oriented way.
"Students do not just read or hear about start-up companies; they visit Silicon Valley and meet Berkeley graduates working in start-ups, and gain insight into why Silicon Valley and the Bay Area are so special."
BHGAP is divided into two different tracks. For whom is the "Preparatory Track" suitable and for whom is the "Advanced Track"?
The Berkeley Haas Global Access Program also includes a range of outside of class events. Can you tell us some of the activities and workshops offered?
Alex Budak: I am very enthusiastic about BHGAP, because in addition to the program itself, we networked with and visited many Silicon Valley companies. These companies range from start-ups with as little as four employees working on an innovative idea, to visits to bigger companies, like Google and Facebook. Through these exciting field trips, students gained a diverse insight into these great companies, of which they have only heard or read about until now.
Why is the UC Berkeley campus experience particularly interesting for international students?
Alex Budak: The UC Berkeley campus is in an incredible area. Berkeley is just 20 minutes from San Francisco. This major West Coast city is one of the most geographically beautiful places in the world. It is a diverse city, offering delicious food, a wonderful landscape and a dazzling art and culture scene. Berkeley is a lively college town with a fascinating story. The campus is right in the middle of it, and is a beautiful example of the true American college experience. Students receive discounted American football tickets and benefit from numerous theatrical performances. BHGAP participants can use the university libraries, gyms or sports facilities. The resources are endless.
Finally, where can the international students who participate in the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program live?
Alex Budak: I’ve noticed that program participants choose very different accommodations for their living spaces. For example, you can live at the International House (commonly referred to as the “I-House”), where my grandmother used to live when she was a student at UC Berkeley. In this dorm-like situation, students from all over the world live together. You can choose between a single or a double room. Many students also live in shared apartments near the campus or in San Francisco since Berkeley is only 20 minutes away by public transportation. Students have a number of options in the San Francisco Bay Area; which one you choose depends entirely on your budget and interests.
Berkeley is a lively college town with a fascinating story. The campus is right in the middle of it, and is a beautiful example of the true American college experience.