Sixiong Peng is a Chinese student studying in Japan, and is a graduate of the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program, which brings international students from diverse backgrounds to study business and entrepreneurship. This post originally appeared on his personal blog. It has been edited for clarity and length.
As a Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP) student, I take classes divided into three categories: core courses , elective courses and concurrent courses. I would like to briefly describe the content and the atmosphere of the six classes I took.
Core courses are required and there are three core classes offered through BHGAP. Elective courses are those chosen and determined by the student based on his or her interests. At BHGAP we have two elective classes to choose from. Finally, concurrent courses are similar to elective courses and are not offered through BHGAP, but rather through any of the different academic departments at UC Berkeley. Students can take a maximum of 15 units, and the combination of core courses and elective course units will affect the potential to take concurrent courses.
1. Fundamentals of Design Thinking (core course)
2. Opportunity Recognition (core course)
In BHGAP's opportunity recognition class students learn about the essentials of an innovative business. The professor analyzes the various companies from a unique point of view, and based on the results, analyzes how innovative companies can help us to understand why and how they are innovative. It is a wonderful class, arguably the best or second-best class I've ever taken. If I were allowed to take only this class through BHGAP, it would still be worth the money and time spent abroad. The content of the class created is based on the analysis of the professor that can not be learned anywhere else, and the participatory class without using Powerpoint seems to be an ideal form of active learning. I truly love this class and appreciate the engagement of my classmates and my instructor in particular.
It is a wonderful class, arguably the best or second-best class I've ever taken. If I were allowed to take only this class through BHGAP, it would still be worth the money and time spent abroad.
3. Thriving at Haas and Beyond (core course)
This class was intended for BHGAP students to prepare for our future by providing workshops on potential careers and pathways after the program. I think the best thing about it is that you will have the opportunity to talk with the professor one-on-one outside of class. The professor, Heidi Weller, graduated from UC Berkeley and has an MBA from Yale, and also has a wealth of life experience as she has also traveled around the world. The professor can spend almost an hour assisting each student, which ties into the benefits of BHGAP’s intimate academic setting. BHGAP Silicon Valley company site visits every week are are also built into the schedule of this class.
4. Introduction to Marketing (elective course)
As the title states, this class focuses on marketingand marketing endeavors. The course begins with the contents of the famous Kotler & Keller textbook and case studies. In my opinion, it is a pretty typical marketing class. People with a business background may feel slightly bored but people without a business background will get a good foundation. Fun fact about the class: the instructor loves diet Coca-Cola!
5. New Venture Finance (elective course)
The difference between ordinary finance and venture finance is that there are not many opportunities to learn venture finance, the focus of this course. The coursework difficulty level is high and may be a little painful without a basic knowledge of finance. For instance, as someone with no background in finance, I had to research basic terms and often needed my more experienced classmates explain important topics to me. Professor Gregory LaBlanc is a working lawyer, and has been involved in launching several startups. His style of teaching is quite dynamic, and you can really feel the difference here between American and Japanese lecture styles.
Professor Gregory LaBlanc is a working lawyer, and has been involved in launching several startups. His style of teaching is quite dynamic, and you can really feel the difference here between American and Japanese lecture styles.
6. Social Entrepreneurship (concurrent course)
I was very interested in social enterprise companies, so I chose this class. In class, I read texts on topics related to social enterprise each week and discussed them in class. This provided me with good opportunities for input and conversation, because I had few opportunities to get a solid knowledge of social enterprises by simply learning on my own. In addition to class discussions, students are split into groups to develop business plans that would be achievable in real life. It was clear that many of my classmates, myself included, were passionate about this course.
I’m extremely glad that I had the opportunity to discuss my experience as a student in the BHGAP program, specifically in regards to my class schedule. I hope that it will be helpful for those who are thinking about participating in BHGAP, and those who are considering also taking concurrent classes.
Special thanks to Sixiong Peng for sharing his BHGAP experience with us. Be sure to check out more BHGAP blog posts from Sixiong and others.