Written by Michael Xia.

As a business student, I constantly hear that networking is important, but this past semester in particular has taught me that connections and friendships can be quickly developed anytime, anywhere.

As part of this year’s second-ever Global Management Program (GMP) cohort, I made the trade-off of forsaking summer break for a summer session at Berkeley (Go Bears!). Like other incoming GMP members, I sought a balance between between social life, academics, and sleep: 

(One of these was sacrificed during the summer)

I wanted to meet as many people as possible and learn about their experiences (in business or other fields) before studying abroad in London later in the fall. During the summer, a few GMP friends and I attended our first-ever Haas alumni event near the Silicon Valley. There, I met a group of Haas alumni who shared their academic and professional experiences with me. Arriving at the event, I immediately stepped into a circle of Haas alumni and immersed myself in their conversations. As a result, I heard a lot about their experiences across various fields of business, including tech, social impact, and consulting. For example, one was a tech investor named Chuck who talked about his investment and startup experiences and is currently President of Project PAI (Personal Artificial Intelligence); Chuck is also the head of the UC Berkeley China Alumni Association. I also talked to a recent MBA graduate named Scott who told me about his current work at Lucid Motor, an electric vehicle startup aiming to compete with Tesla in the luxury market for electric vehicles. The company has gained quite some traction, with several former Tesla employees having left to join their team. We also met a Haas “double alumni” (both undergrad and MBA) named Zach who told us about his time at Haas as well as his current job in insurance. After an engaging conversation, Zach invited us to his house party the next day for a get-together with some of his friends. There, Zach connected us with diverse individuals ranging from a Silicon Valley executive to a CEO running for office. After conversing with the people there, one of them even offered me an internship opportunity! 

Haas alumni event picture with Chuck Ng (Dark blue Cal shirt on the right), Co-Founder/President of UC Berkeley China Alumni Association

After the summer had ended, I left Berkeley to begin my fall semester in London. Despite living in a new country, I have come to realize that I know a lot more people than I think. Fortunately, one of the benefits of living in Europe is traveling. After reaching out to my international classmates and friends from Shanghai, I was warmly messaged with get-together arrangements in Oxford and even housing invites in France and Poland.

During my weekend excursions exploring other countries, I have also met Cal-associated people from all around the world. When I was at London’s Gatwick Airport en route to Ireland, I saw several people walking around in Cal sweaters. Last weekend in Amsterdam, a dad who saw my yellow Berkeley sweatshirt went up to our dining table and asked us if we were Cal students; he told us that his daughter is currently a junior at Berkeley. This weekend, I visited Prague and Germany and wore my yellow Berkeley sweatshirt again. When I bought a München snowglobe at Oktoberfest, the German seller saw my sweatshirt and informed me that many of her connections were also from Berkeley; I later asked to add her on LinkedIn and she gladly agreed.

Oktoberfest ’19!

I have also reached out to several Haas alumni in London. One of them has already responded back and who I look forward to meeting soon (stay tuned for a potential HoH interview!).

All in all, I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel and connect with others as a result of GMP. As a result, my experiences meeting others during the summer and in London have validated my desire to pursue business in an international setting. With upcoming trips planned in Spain, France, Italy, and Poland, I will continue to wear my yellow Berkeley sweatshirt in hopes of connecting with new people and learning more about them. When I return to Berkeley for the spring semester, I look forward to meeting more brilliant individuals through extracurriculars and Haas events. Although it is only my first year, I can not wait to see where the next four years will take me.

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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