Editor's note: This is a guest post written by Berkeley Haas Global Access Program student Ziyi (Jerrie) Zhang, who is also a finance major at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen).
Before I came to Berkeley, I was a student majoring in finance and had little experience in entrepreneurship and management. However about a year ago I started my own English education business, Liyang Future English, to tutor high school students in English test preparation. I realized that I should learn more about entrepreneurship and marketing to have a more comprehensive understanding of the business world.
I found the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP) to be a perfect fit for my situation: It provides both fundamental and advanced business classes, including a lot of real-life business case studies. The reputation of Haas Business School as well as UC Berkeley was also a big driving factor of my decision to participate in BHGAP.
Throughout my stay here, not only have I experienced a real American university environment, I also got to meet a lot of amazing classmates and professors. We got to interact a lot with the professors during and after classes. One of the most unique classes I took was Problem Finding, Problem Solving with Professor Jennifer Caleshu. It is an interesting class because it not only taught the problem-solving skills in the business world, but all of the skills we learned in the class can be applied to daily life.
We got to do all kinds of interesting projects. For example, one time we divided into groups and were asked to build a tower with just a small bunch of spaghetti, a marshmallow and a string! The group that built the tallest tower that could hold the marshmallow would win the competition. Amazingly, we found out that the winner was not who we expected. It turned out that the group that started working without a specific plan and adjusted the strategy to the situation built the tallest tower, while those who spent a lot of time on structure planning lost the competition by realizing that their plan either didn’t work or didn’t work as expected. This taught us that sometimes action is more important than planning, in a fun but very impressive way.
Outside of the Classroom
Our cohort is very diverse and consists of students from all around the globe, so I got to build a lot of international networks. The program organized a lot of social events, including an orientation and some team-building meetups. Apart from the school-organized social events, we also spontaneously organized a lot of our own parties and events to get to know more about each other. All these events greatly enhanced our friendships with each other, and a lot of us went on trips together later on during the semester.
Apart from the on-campus experience, it would also be a shame to live in a place with one of the most desirable climates in the world without travelling a bit. Most of us took advantage of the weekends and traveled with friends around the Bay Area or San Francisco.
Looking Back on What I Learned
Overall, I feel very lucky to have been chosen to participate in the program. I learned a lot about the entrepreneurship skills that I need to develop my own startup and have met so many awesome people from around the world who will now be lifelong friends. Because my future plan after graduate school is to start my own business, I’m sure that the knowledge I have learned and the network I have built here will be helpful.
Want to learn more about the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program? Visit the website and view more photos on our Facebook page.