Hello everyone! I am Jiaxin Lei, and I am from Shanghai, China. I am a junior majoring in economics at Fudan University.
In 2018, Fudan announced exchange programs we could choose from. Out of UC Berkeley and UPenn, I picked Berkeley Haas as my dream school. Haas is one of the best business schools in the world, with excellent professors, challenging courses and smart students. Furthermore, Berkeley is in the Bay Area, where Silicon Valley and many high-tech companies provide us with a good opportunity to understand economics and finance.
Planning Ahead: My Goals
Before I reached Berkeley, I set a few goals for myself:
First of all, I hoped that I could construct a basic knowledge and foundation of finance through the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program. I originally studied economics, and economics and finance are inseparable. Having some knowledge of finance will also help me get jobs more easily in the future.
Second, I hope to improve my communication skills. There is a negotiation course in BHGAP, which can help us to develop communication skills.
Third, I hope that I can improve my English listening and speaking. In China, I always chat with Chinese friends and hang out with them. Jumping out of my comfort zone and living in another language environment will help me develop language skills.
Landing in Berkeley
I arrived in Berkeley in late August. When I first got to campus, I felt that there were many students on campus, and they were all energetic. At the same time, I also felt life was quite different than before. I needed to cook, sweep the floor and do laundry, and this has improved my life skills.
In class, BHGAP professors emphasize the interaction with students, and students actively answer questions. Participating in class discussions requires careful reading of pre-course materials and helps us understand the concepts better.
My Advice to You
Participating in an international exchange program is an important decision. Think clearly about what you want to obtain from the international experience. If you decide to participate in BHGAP, I have the following suggestions for you before you arrive in the Bay Area:
Look for a house early. There are lots of students in UC Berkeley, and it is not easy to find an appropriate house. You can find houses via Facebook groups or Airbnb and the BHGAP website lists housing options, too. Bring your quilt and sheets when you arrive.
Learn to drive and how to get around in Berkeley. Having a car is helpful in the Bay Area. If you cannot drive, you'll have to rely on friends, and if you can drive, you will have many friends!
This program provides us with opportunities to visit enterprises. We learn from the most pre-eminent business minds in the world.
On September 20, we visited Berkeley SkyDeck, which is UC Berkeley’s premier startup accelerator and incubator program. SkyDeck supports startups founded by students, alumni and faculty who want to bring their scientific and technological discoveries to market and commercialize breakthrough research at the University of California at Berkeley. Many SkyDeck programs provide educational support to students at the University of California, Berkeley, through internships, professional development, and opportunities for students to learn about the creation and release of startups.
On the same day, we visited CITRIS. The Information Technology Research Center (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute for the benefit of society have created information technology solutions for the most pressing challenges of society. Founded in 2001, CITRIS is one of four interdisciplinary science and innovation institutes established by the California Legislature to shorten the development of world-class laboratory research and applications, platforms, companies and even new industries. As the headquarters of the multi-campus CITRIS and Banatao Institutes, the UC Berkeley has a number of laboratories and facilities, including the Berkeley Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory, the Inventive Laboratory and the CITRIS Foundry. The seven-story Sutardja Dai Hall houses CITRIS researchers and staff and hosts many CITRIS-sponsored events.
Silicon Valley has an atmosphere of creativity and innovation. The Bay Area recognizes individual uniqueness and creative value, values teamwork in innovation and encourages innovative enterprise environment. Since innovation is the foundation of enterprise development, learning from the most pre-eminent business minds will benefit us in future careers.
1:1 Coaching and Advising
We get 1:1 coaching and mentoring, and I think it is really important. What we command to do outstanding is to stay on disadvantages or shortcomings, but it is really difficult.
Take myself as an example: It is hard for me to concentrate because electronic device distracts me a lot. Sometimes I am not productive and wasting time. I communicated with my coach about this problem. She advised me to study together with friends because it can help reduce the level of screen time. In addition, she suggested focusing on my work for half-an-hour and then giving myself a reward. My coach is really helpful and benefit from her.
This semester, I am taking the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution course. The course is really interesting and useful. When conflict appears at work, we need to negotiate with each other to reach a mutually satisfying agreement. However, we lack experience in negotiating by the time we graduate. This course helps us develop negotiation skills. In this case, we will be more comfortable and adept in future negotiations.
In this course, there is a negotiation exercise conducted every week. We need to read materials and prepare for the negotiation. During the class, we try to reach an agreement by negotiation. It is really helpful and we improve our ability to negotiate effectively. What’s more, we improve our ability to analyze negotiation situations and others’ behavior, evaluate alternatives and apply the most appropriate tactics.
In general, the BHGAP program provides lots of career support and it is crucial to our future development. I highly recommend this program to all of you!