The Haas Experience


When I was at Diablo Valley College, I never really understood what the hype of entering UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business was. All I heard about was how stringently selective the school is, especially for us hopeful international students looking to transfer into the then-ranked 2nd business school in United States. So, on April 30th 2010, despite the overwhelmingly ecstatic joy of receiving the acceptance letter to Haas, a question persists to linger in my head – “Am I going to this university simply because of the brand equity it exudes? Or would it actually give me the kind of education that I am looking for?”

Now that I have graduated, answering these questions, in retrospect, is exceptionally easy.
Common sense dictates that the kind of education that I feel is best for me can be an education that isn’t suitable someone else. However, from my observation, there are 2 different goals among the majority of Indonesians majoring in business. And I feel that the Haas education will help us reach whichever goals you have. The two types of goals are:

  1. Being a successful entrepreneur (Continuing parents’ business or wishing to start one)
  2. Landing that dream job (In money terms, it’s that >$100,000/year fresh graduate salary)

My Personal Case Study

As someone who cannot contain his excitement to continue his parents’ real estate and agribusiness firms, you might find it surprising that I am a strong advocate to a school that teaches neither real estate nor agribusiness. This is because Haas vastly improved my business acumen so that we are prepared to run any kind of business. It teaches you that you don’t need to be an architect to build towering offices, just like how you don’t need to be a doctor to run hospitals. Haas focuses on refining both technical and soft skills. The only major offered at Haas – Business Administration – covered a wide range of spectrum of essential business topics like accounting, marketing, finance, organizational behavior, and communication. Students of Haas are also taught to live by our 4 core values – to “question the status quo”, to be “student always”, to maintain “confidence without attitude”, and to go “beyond yourself”. It’s impossible to illustrate all the business acumens I have accumulated over my 2-year experience at Haas, so maybe it would help if I were to illustrate how my current housemates are doing.

  • My housemate Ben Pradya received a full time offer at Morgan Stanley, a financial service powerhouse that pays its employees top dollar.
  • My other housemate Young Jun Jang raised $300,000 before he even graduated from Berkeley for his start-up in Silicon Valley. Just recently, he told me that he just clinched another round of funding worth $400,000.

The ABCs of Haas

One of the unique features that separates Haas from other business schools is that students don’t typically ask one another what our major is. Instead, we ask one another which industry we are focusing on. This is an entirely different mindset, because rather than asking which topic we’re focusing on (such as finance or marketing), we ask what kind of jobs we are looking for (such as the popular Accounting, Banking, Consulting – also known as the ABCs of Haas). The difference may seem subtle, but the effects are enormous. From day 1, we are taught to get the job that we want, instead of simply deepening the knowledge of one subject and then wonder about the kind of job that we want after we graduate. It is common for my Indonesian “Haasmates” to secure a full time job offer before even graduating, something rare in other business schools.

I am not saying that all Haas graduates will be successful. In fact, I dare say that there will be failures, because the students’ motivation to succeed still vary significantly even after the careful selection of the admission officers. However, if you have a big dream and are determined and enthusiastic to achieve it, I standby my stance that Haas will open the path to your success. Furthermore, we live in a country where 80% of the population earn $4 or less (according to WSJ). So if you’re one of the lucky individuals who could afford the US education, Haas will further entice you to go “beyond yourself” and make a difference to the others who are less fortunate.


Photo: Haas School of Business, by yanec at Flickr.

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Leonard Hartono graduated from UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business, shortly after transferring from Diablo Valley College in his Junior year. In college, he actively worked as a Teaching Assistant in the Economics, Business, and Mathematics departments, and enjoyed assisting and motivating community college freshmen or sophomores who were as enthusiastic to transferring to top universities as he once was. Upon graduation, he pursued his passion in the real estate industry by working as a real estate consultant in Jones Lang LaSalle Jakarta.


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