What Happens After Being Accepted to the World's #1 Public University?

Jonas Hellweg shares his experience as an international student at one of the best business schools in the U.S.

My name is Jonas Hellweg, and I am a master's student from the University of Göttingen, majoring in business information systems. I am part of the spring 2021 cohort for the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program, where we focus studying business, innovation and entrepreneurship.

My plan to study at UC Berkeley was set a few years in advance before I started my graduate studies. It all started with my first semester abroad in the spring of 2016 at the California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). During my time at CSUMB, I fell in love with this beautiful state and California culture. This love, combined with my former professors, mentors from academia and the corporate world, encouraged me to attend UC Berkeley. The people and the culture all solidified my goal to return to California for my master's degree.

My academic and professional background was a perfect fit for Berkeley Global's Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP). This program allows participants to choose courses from the Haas Business School's along with electives from different departments on campus. This enables a course selection tailored to the student and allows me to choose open enrollment classes based on my interests and academic needs. I was even able to take courses with the Industrial Engineering and Operations department to expand my knowledge beyond the business field. Given UC Berkeley's excellent reputation for their computer science, data science and business programs, BHGAP worked perfectly for what I was looking for.

A very special and unforgettable moment for me was when I received the letter of acceptance for the Haas Defining Leadership Principles Scholarship. For me, this was the moment when I felt that my studies at UC Berkeley were set in stone. It is an incredible honor to be a Haas Defining Leadership Principles Scholar. The four Haas Defining Leadership Principles include "Question the Status Quo," "Confidence Without Attitude," "Students Always" and "Beyond Yourself." This is the unique approach of how the Haas School of Business lives up to its distinctive culture.

No matter whom I have spoken to or worked with at the Haas Business School, I have always been reminded that the four defining leadership principles are not merely inspirational words, they are the entire culture of the Haas Business School. They can be found in every professor, alumni and student. The Haas Business School is very proud of its defining leadership principles and rightfully so, as they represent the unique culture and values that set Haas Business School apart from other business schools around the world. That being said, I would like to thank all the officials involved in the decision making process of the scholarship. I am immensely grateful.

University Life in a Global Pandemic

In short, some say being a business graduate student is about the degree, others say it is about the skills and network. I believe it's about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. January 18, 2021, was my first day in BHGAP and even though all the lectures were virtual, I decided to move to Berkeley, California. I wanted to get the most authentic experience of UC Berkeley and be able to live in California again. Yes, the global pandemic did take a toll on me. I was frustrated about not being able to enjoy UC Berkeley classes in person, meet my classmates in person or just get the feeling of sitting in the Haas lecture halls or the famous and beautiful libraries. Still, I decided to take a positive view of the whole situation caused by the pandemic. I was glad that the 2021 BHGAP spring semester was taking place, as it would have been my only remaining chance to study at UC Berkeley before graduating.

Academics and Lectures

My professors at Haas Business School and School of Engineering are all extremely nice yet rigorous, especially when it comes to the expectation of their students' work performance. 

Personally, I find this very pleasant as hard work and diligence are rewarded. This leads to a fair evaluation of the student work performance and it contributes to a positive working atmosphere. This last point, in particular, is something I am not familiar with from my home university, which makes me even more enthusiastic about the Haas Business School and School of Engineering at UC Berkeley. The success of this teaching format and the bond between professors and their students is ultimately reflected in UC Berkeley's excellent rankings.



When it comes to networking, it is important to remember that you will never have the access to a network this large during your professional life as the one you have during your studies. So be sure to make the most of your time in graduate school. UC Berkeley, with its countless student associations and clubs, offers quite a bit of opportunities to meet like-minded people. Take advantage of UC Berkeley's opportunities and resources to network. Network with your classmates and get to know them. Network with professors, as they have usually built a very large network of alumni over the years. A strong network can be very powerful and if used wisely can only be beneficial to your career.

People in the BHGAP, Innovation and the Bay Area

UC Berkeley is located in the heart of the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Innovation and entrepreneurship are not only taught excellently here, they are also practiced and lived. The professors are all connected to the startup scene and the innovation ecosystem of Silicon Valley. This becomes unmistakably clear when top-class guest speakers (startup founders, innovators, corporate business leaders, lawyers, etc.) join the BHGAP lectures. In particular, the company site visits as part of the "Thriving at Haas and Beyond" class really impressed and inspired me. They allowed us to get a direct insight into the companies and the professional activities of the guest speakers. We had the opportunity to ask questions directly to the guest speakers regarding topics such as career development, advice for international students who want to work in the U.S. or about the company they represent and much more.

In addition to the guest speakers, I am tremendously impressed with the energy, ambition and enthusiasm of my fellow students in the BHGAP. They are highly talented and come from different countries around the world. They all share the enthusiasm for innovation, entrepreneurship and have the will to make an impact on this world. These are exactly the kind of people UC Berkeley attracts. Together with one of the largest startup incubators in the Bay Area, Berkeley SkyDeck, innovations are born on the run.

Places in California

Lake Powell Spring Break 2021 BHGAP Jonas Hellweg

The landscape of California is incredibly beautiful. I cannot put it into words as you will just have to see it yourself! There is something for everyone, from mountains to the ocean to the most beautiful national parks. A very special experience for me during my BHGAP spring 2021 semester was my spring break road trip through the landscapes and national parks of Nevada, Utah and Arizona with two fellow BHGAP students from Belgium and France.

Our big goal—and at the same time our biggest challenge—was to hike "Angels Landing" in Zion National Park in Utah. "Angels Landing" is one of the top five most dangerous hikes in the United States of America. To hike "Angels Landing" you not only need a strong will, but also the courage to get out of your comfort zone. 

I had to get out of my comfort zone several times during this hike. It cost me an incredible amount of courage to hike over the narrowest of rocky trails and look down the slopes and canyons for more than a thousand meters while holding on to nothing but a steel chain. Since 2004, more than ten people have died on this hike, information that once again underlines the extremes of this hike. But my will was greater than my fear and so I left my comfort zone and grew from this challenge.

Leaving my comfort zone, growing, staying focused and never giving up were the key to my success of reaching the final destination. In the picture you can see me with my BHGAP buddies, Baptiste and Anton after arriving at "Angels Landing."

So what happens after you get into the world's number one public university? You will have the time of your life, set connections, extend your network, gain skills and you will leave your comfort zone—which will let you grow beyond your imagination!