Written by Michael Xia.

Away from campus, away from home. Away from the vibrant campus life that excites most freshman college students. Studying abroad can be daunting, and doing it in your first year makes it seem all the more so. 

Throughout my first year in the Global Management Program (GMP), one of the concerns that I have occasionally heard is the “lack of opportunities” studying abroad. I admit that while many of my friends are attending Cal football games, joining student-clubs, and getting a traditional “headstart” on their college experience, I sometimes feel isolated from the action that can only be found at the heart of campus. Sure, our two months on campus during the summer session is a great opportunity to explore Berkeley, and yes, the opportunity to visit many countries (ten to be exact!) in Europe is special, but I often find myself experiencing a sense of FOMO: a fear of missing out by being away from campus. So how do I fight against this unease? I like to think of comedian Milton Berle’s wise words: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”.

Over these last couple of months studying abroad, I have strived to make every opportunity count. As a business student, my mindset is that there are always opportunities around me, but only if I wish to search for them or create them myself. One of the ways I have compensated for my lack of involvement with Haas on campus is by reaching out to professionals in London. For example, during our Program’s “GMP Week”, we had the opportunity to attend company visits at Accenture and Goldman Sachs, as well as meet alumni from the Haas Alumni Network London Chapter. 

At these events, I would make sure to not only attentively listen to each speaker’s story but also try to chat with them afterwards about specific points they had brought up. By following up with professionals after the events, I have been able to meet up with most of them again. Recently, the president of the London Chapter invited me to their annual Haas dinner in Kensington, where I connected with other alumni and business people around London. By making it a goal to talk to as many professionals at the dinner table as possible, I was not only able to gain a tremendous amount of insight regarding their current work but also develop positive relationships with them. 

Annual BHAN Dinner at Maggie Jones in Kensington, London

That said, organizing meetings is not always easy. As professionals are quite busy themselves, it often requires a lot of persistence to make it work. For example, I emailed a Haas alumni who is a Vice-President at BlackRock about ten times before receiving a successful meet-up date; fortunately, he complimented my persistence! Similarly, I recently had a phone call with the Haas Class of 2017’s undergraduate commencement speaker after several months of back and forth emailing. He told me how as an investment banking analyst, it can be challenging for him to find time to meet others as much as he would like and thus appreciated me for constantly following-up. Nevertheless, whether it be grabbing coffee or talking over the phone with Haas alumni, I have realized how strong the Haas alumni network actually is, and I am very grateful for how willing alumni have been in spending time to chat with me. 

All in all, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to connect with so many different Haas alumni and professionals while studying abroad during my first semester. As a business student who is still exploring the vast world of business, I am grateful for any opportunity to meet others and to learn from them. Through these encounters, I hope to not only attain a better idea of what I wish to pursue in the future but also develop more personal relationships. As I leave London in a couple of weeks, I am confident that I have made my time here count. 

By Michael Xia

Feel free to connect with me! You can reach me at: 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/michaeldxia 

Email: michaelxia@berkeley.edu

 

 

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