The Advent of Crowdfunding and Marketplace Lending at Berkeley-Haas

Questioning the Status Quo

As one of the top business schools in the world, Berkeley-Haas has always been at the forefront of bringing to light the latest and greatest trends that influence our economy and shape the way we conduct business. Our school’s defining principle of ‘Question the Status Quo’ also encourages our faculty and students to initiate engaging and insightful conversations in all leading areas of innovation and marketplace disruption. While the concept of peer-to-peer lending first developed in U.K. in 2005, and has continued to expand into the U.S. since, however, the recent rapid emergence of this FinTech space, thanks largely to the passage of the 2012 JOBS Act, has largely escaped academic platforms, including Berkeley-Haas, till now.

This past semester, two Berkeley-Haas Executive MBAs, Lucky Sandhu and Kanak Rai, organized the first-of-its-kind ‘Crowdfunding and Marketplace Lending Panel’ event in which they brought together industry thought leaders, Cal and Haas faculty, students, alumni, and guests from other universities, to initiate an open and engaging conversation, largely around opportunities and risks, while separating hype from facts, surrounding crowdfunding and marketplace lending.

A Warm Welcome on Campus

The evening began with an hour of networking, as over 100 attendees Panel_2gathered from Cal and from around the Bay Area. All four of Berkeley-Haas’s programs – Undergraduates, MBAs, EMBAs, and EWMBAs were well-represented, with students, alums, faculty and guests mingling together over hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Dean Rich Lyons kick-started the event with a warm welcome speech, in which he highlighted the importance of leading the conversations in Finance and Technology as a means to furthering innovation in FinTech and learning from each other as ‘Students Always’.

The panel event began with Kanak Rai, EMBA ’15, followed by Professor Lee Fleming, of the Fung Institute of Engineering Leadership acknowledging the many event sponsors and personnel who had come together to make this event possible. Kanak further spoke about why and how he and Lucky went about understanding the importance of a discussion around this topic at Berkeley-Haas. Haas Professor Adair Morse then gave a contextual background about crowdfunding which she explained was attracting a lot of interest and capital in the three silos – rewards-for-finance philanthropy, debt and equity. She explained how marketplace lending represented the most massive and fastest growing area in the debt silo, i.e., personal, small business and real estate loans. Professor Morse described the various types of debt recipients, their evolving nature, and the various investor classes funding these recipients.

Meeting the Star Panel

Lucky Sandhu, EMBA ’15 led the panel discussion by inviting each of the four accomplished panelists to briefly introduce themselves.


  • Jason Best, Co-Founder and Principal, Crowdfund Capital Advisors, was also directly instrumental in legalizing crowdfunding in the U.S. through the JOBS Act of 2012.
  • Chris Brocoum, Vice President of Finance, Lending Club, and Haas alum.
  • Jeremy Todd, Director, West Coast Sales, Orchard Platform, and UC Berkeley alum.
  • James Wu, CEO and Founder, MonJa, a San Francisco FinTech startup that empowers institutional investors with market insights for marketplace lending, and Haas alum.

Key Insights from the Panel

After panelist introductions, Lucky got straight to the point and initiated the panel insights with the question, “What were experts saying back in 2010-2011 about debt and equity crowdfunding?” Jason Best answered by describing the reaction to equity crowdfunding as early as four to five years ago, “People said we were crazy and unencumbered by facts.” Clearly, views on this have shifted dramatically as we consistently heard from all panelists on why this is a trend with the potential to completely change the way that the entire lending ecosystem works.

In response to a question on why marketplace lending has gotten so much traction recently, Chris Brocoum and James Wu talked about the tremendous opportunity in the spread that existed between what traditional banks and credit card companies charge (annual percentage rates well upwards of 18%) and what they offer investors on their deposits and savings (around 1%). Marketplace lending allows investors with higher yields in their investments while allowing borrowers to lower their cost of capital. Jeremy Todd further noted that traditional banks have not extended credit quite as much to both consumers and small businesses since the financial crises of 2008. He described marketplace lending as a fundamental shift towards speed and efficiency in getting a loan approved – “a matter of minutes” versus up to 30 days that traditional banks take in approving and originating the same loan.

In highlighting the estimated total addressable market (TAM) for marketplace lending, Jeremy Todd offered the following figures: There are already almost 150 lending platforms in the U.S. In 2014, $12 billion in loans funded. In 2015, $25 billion in loans is expected to fund. This figure is projected to grow to $250 billion in the next five years. James Wu added that Foundation Capital and Goldman Sachs put the TAM at $1.0 trillion and $1.3 trillion, respectively.

Credit risk models are key in the way debt is underwritten and originated in marketplace lending. Risk mitigation in credit models holds the longer term competitive advantage for firms as they vie for sustainable supremacy amidst growing competition. Chris Brocoum noted that big data was playing a critical role in how unique credit models are being developed. More specifically, how much data does a company have? What is the history of such data? What level of analytics can be performed from the available data?  It is these pieces tied together that will provide for the most valuable, sustainable and resilient of all models.

In looking at imminent risks confronting marketplace lending, the panelists noted several areas. These include the lack of secondary markets which limit the amount of capital available for making additional loans, inability of smaller players to securitize their loan pools which further constrains liquidity, future business cycle downturn risks, investors continued thirst for yield and how that would be maintained in the face of increasing competition, and regulators from the U.S. Treasury closely monitoring this space for potential additional regulation in the future.

This was an event that utilized the full resources that Berkeley-Haas has to offer, not only in terms of organization and space, but also by demonstrating the power of our vast network and collaborative community. Many thanks to Lucky and Kanak for ‘Questioning the Status Quo’ and for going ‘Beyond Themselves’ to add value to our collective Berkeley-Haas experience.


Join for continued conversations on all things crowdfunding at Berkeley-Haas.

So You Want to Be a Billionaire?

Your idea could become the next big thing. The Haas School of Business is funding student ideas for scalable startups. Haas offers undergraduates and MBA students unique access to financial aid to build their ideas into the world’s future leading businesses. Pursuit of innovation and entrepreneurship are coveted qualities in Haas’ curriculum. The mentorship, resources, and funding available at Haas inspire and facilitate student-driven business concepts. The two largest fund sources are LAUNCH and The Berkeley Haas Entrepreneur Startup Seed Funding.

Since 1999 LAUNCH has provided $1 million dollars, industry connections, and mentorship to student teams presenting viable business ideas and strategies. 100 teams compete in LAUNCH for the chance to be selected as one of the top 15 Berkeley student start-up presentations. In a three month long accelerator program, young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to take their ideas from concept to company by transforming products and services to become fundable by venture capital firms and investors.

Dean Lyons has reenergized funding for The Berkeley Haas Entrepreneur Startup Seed Funding, promising $100,000 to teams of current, innovative Haas undergraduates and graduates including $5,000 grants for early stage start ups. Applications for funding consideration were submitted last Friday by groups competing for one of 10 coveted December grants. Winners have the option to use funding for business expansion, to generate viable prototypes, and to pursue further funding.

Haas is committed to giving its students an edge. With the help of the world’s industry leaders and the financial support of the business school, student innovation, creativity, and success thrives at Haas.

“Berkeley’s Nobel Prize-Winning Economists”- (1) George A. Akerlof

Thanksgiving has passed by quickly and the final exams are coming up fast. During this very short Thanksgiving, I have had a chance to research each of the Nobel Prize winner’s personal life and his life-long academic and professional endeavors.

A1RDblCdE6LAs I was choosing which of the five scholars I should write about first for my “Berkeley’s Nobel Prize-Winning Economists” series, I received a book from my Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program professor, Dr. Edelstein, as an end of the semester gift. The title of the book was Phishing for Phools-The Economics of Manipulation & Deception by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller. Here, the word “phishing” is about getting people to do things that are in the interest of the phisherman, but not in the interest of the target. The word, “phools” indicates the people who, for whatever reason, are successfully phished by a phisherman. In the book, Professor Akerlof delivers a fundamental challenge to the insight that free markets will provide us with material well-being addressing the sellers’ intention to systematically exploit buyers’ psychological weakness and ignorance through manipulation and deception.

Drawn by the interesting title and the topic of the book, I wanted to know more about Professor George A. Akerlof and share his unique biography and academic works with the Haas community. Here we go.


Who Is Dr. George A. Akerlof?

  1. Dr. Akerlof was born on June 17, 1940 in New Haven, Connecticut.
  2. He received a B.A. degree from Yale (1962) and a Ph.D. degree from MIT (1966).
  3. He met his wife, Janet Yellen, in Washington, D.C. while working at the Fed (1977).
  4. After marriage, Dr. Akerlof received tenure from the Economics Department after he came back to Berkeley from LSE. Janet Yellen got a tenure-track job from the Business School (Haas) during this time (1980).
  5. In November, 2014, he joined the faculty of Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
  6. His research is based in economics, but it often draws from other disciplines, including psychology, anthropology, and sociology. He played a significant role in the development of behavioral economics and is perceived as one of the most influential economists in the world today.
  7. He once said, “I want a theory that is more closely linked to substantial policy issues and less tied to the official model and its assumptions”


Fun Facts:

  1. In his biography, Dr. Akerlof wrote, “Being a chemist or, at least some form of physical scientist, was thus a family ideal” as his great-grandfather, grandfather, father, mother, and brother were all scientists. As we all know, he became an economist instead.
  2. His great-grandfather and grandfather both graduated from Berkeley. Go Bears!
  3. The time when his father lost his job at Princeton was when Dr. Akerlof started thinking about the economy and learned the foundation of Keynesian economics.
  4. The Nobel Prize winning work, “Market for ‘Lemons’” was written during his first year at Berkeley as an assistant professor.
  5. During his leave from Berkeley, at New Delhi, India, he revised “the Market for ’Lemons’” as the editors felt that the issues in the paper were too trivial and less academic. During this time, he included in his paper the examples of incomplete markets of Indian economics history.


The Market for “Lemons”: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism

The underlying concept of Dr. Akerlof’s Nobel Prize-winning work is pretty simple. The keyword in his work is, “asymmetric information”, a well-known economic concept that explains certain situations when one party has more information about the market compared to the other party.

In his work, Dr. Akerlof introduces “Lemon Law” with his famous “automobiles market” example.

Below is the example (graph provided for economics geeks).

  1. Suppose there are high-quality and low-quality cars in the market.
  2. If both buyers and sellers have perfect information (having the same amount of information about the quality of the cars), then there will be two separate markets with two different market equilibriums/prices (high-quality market: D1, S1 & low-quality market: D2, S2). However, this is not the case in our scenario.
  3. While sellers know the true quality of the car, buyers can’t distinguish the good cars from the bad cars (a.k.a. lemons).graph
  4. Assuming there is a 50-50 chance that cars are either high or low quality, buyers perceive all cars as medium quality cars (D3). They will pay a price that is between the price of good cars and the price
    of lemons. (P3, P4)
  5. From the point of view of the sellers who are selling good cars, the price that buyers are willing to pay is too low. Therefore, they won’t sell their cars. (P3 is lower than P1)
  6. Meanwhile, the sellers who are selling lemons, the offered price will be higher than what they have expected. Therefore, they will sell lemons to the buyers on a higher price. (P4 is higher than P2)
  7. In the end, low-quality goods (lemons) will drive high-quality goods out of the market.


Why Is His Work So Important?

Dr. Akerlof’s work on asymmetric information is significant in today’s economy and business world as deceptive phishing happens all the time. In an unconstrained free market, buyers are like fish in a lake with millions of fishermen all dangling lures. These days, these lures are meticulously designed by numerous professionals that buyers may be able to avoid one or two lures, but will eventually be hooked sooner or later. Such phishing is prevalent in everyday markets today such as home sales, gym memberships, credit cards, news media, or food markets. On top of that, the financial infrastructure is always ready to phish the phools as we saw during the 2008 financial crisis.

You may think that the phishers should feel guilty for what they are doing. However, according to Dr. Akerlof, they aren’t necessary the bad people. The economic structure/system incentivizes these people by letting them stay in the business by phishing. For example, as Robert J. Shiller mentions, nobel-economy_art1supermarket owners place candy bars near the cash register to let the purchasers make an impulsive purchase. People usually think that they won’t play this trick to their customers if they become an owner of a supermarket themselves. However, in reality, profit margins of business are razor thin that anyone will end up tricking the buyers in order to stay in the business. This is why phishing is so prevalent in today’s business world.

Since he has started his fundamental work on Lemon Law, Akerlof has been constantly developing his ideas in order to solve numerous fundamental economic problems. In order to protect buyers from the current economic system, Akerlof is continuing his work to support the
idea that the free market must be moderated by regulations, government rules, or business standards to some extent. His continuing works are enlightening more and more people and scholars to understand how pervasive the phishing is in the economy today.

As business majors, from various case studies, we often get to see numerous entrepreneurs and other businessmen changing the world by creating shared values. While their efforts are also worth respect, works done by scholars like George A. Akerlof should be greatly appreciated as those are often the solutions to the most fundamental problems in the world. As stated in this year’s Undergraduate Haas Application, “Questioning the Status Quo” is important. However, as Dr. Akerlof’s biography and his academic endeavor show, being a “Student Always” is an important prerequisite for challenging the status quo. Thanks for reading.

6 Things to Consider When Deciding if a Job Offer is Right for You

I hope everyone had an enjoyable last day of classes! Only two short weeks stand in your way before winter break- you may already be picturing yourself curled up by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa. Hang in there!

As we wrap up the semester, seniors searching for full-time employment, and juniors hunting for internships, may find themselves faced with deciding between multiple job offers or deciding whether one specific offer is right for them. So how should students go about making this life altering decision? I’ve collected a few important factors below to help guide you in your decision making process.

  1. The People: These are the faces you’ll be seeing for a minimum of eight hours a day everyday- make sure they are people you can imagine yourself learning from and having fun with! Though your prior interaction with them may have been short (maybe only an interview or two), you can tell a lot about the people by the way they treated you. Were they kind? Did they treat you respectfully? Did they ask you thoughtful questions throughout the interview process?
  1. The Culture: The environment will vary a lot depending on the type of company you are working for. Whether it’s a large corporation, a start-up, an agency, or a non-profit, it is important that you choose a place you can see yourself excelling. If you like a fast-paced environment where you may need to get a little scrappy, maybe a start-up is a better choice for you than a large corporation.
  1. The Position: Make sure to consider your role within the company- is this position something that interests and excites you? In order to continue your professional development you want to make sure you will be challenged within your role and will be tackling new problems. Think about if taking this position aligns with your long-term career goals and whether this position will teach you transferable skills.
  1. The Location: The physical office location is another important factor to consider, as it will determine where you live and how far you need to commute. If having a short commute is important to you, you’ll need to consider whether you have the means to live nearby. If inexpensive housing is a must, are there cheap housing options nearby or will this require you to endure a long commute everyday? Is the office located close to public transportation? Is there free parking nearby?
  1. The Money and Benefits: Though the money may be tempting, there are many other important aspects of selecting a job that is best for you. Consider the salary that you absolutely need in order to maintain your standards of living, and if the offer hits that number look beyond the salary to the package as a whole. Is the company generous with their paid time off policy? Do they allot you a certain percent of time to pursue individual projects or volunteer? Consider whether this job will give you the flexibility and freedom that would make you most happy.
  1. The little voice inside your head: Choosing the right job is a very personal decision and no matter how many friends or family members you ask for advice, you ultimately need to listen to your gut. Dig deep for what is the best choice for you given your situation. Identify your goals, whatever they may be, prioritize what is most important to you, and take a leap of faith.

In the end, there is no one right choice, but considering these six factors may help you as you make your decision. If you have an interesting story about how you selected your job or internship, or have an additional factor that should be considered when making this choice, please post in the comments below. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Intro to the “Berkeley’s Nobel Prize-Winning Economists” Series

We often see people considering Haas as a professionally oriented school. More often than not, most undergraduate students at Haas, who are usually recruited prior to their graduation, also think Haas as a stepping stone to their future professional career. However, interestingly, Haas School of Business has always been an odd combination of both professional and academic.

In the midst of numerous coffee chats and professional networking events, there are huge portraits of five of the greatest scholars of Berkeley hanging on the Bank of America Forum (B of A). These scholars are, Gerard Debreu, Daniel L. McFadden, John C. Harsanyi, George A. Akerlof, and Oliver E. Williamson. As being a Haas undergraduate student myself, I have spent hours at B of A meeting numerous recruiters and preparing for various interviews. However, when my roommate (a wonderful chemical engineering student at Berkeley), during his first visit to Haas, asked me, “What have they done to earn a Nobel Prize?” I had nothing to say. I knew nothing about them. I had to tell him, “I don’t know.”

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The Portraits of the Five Nobel Laureates at the Bank of America Forum

Many Haas undergraduates, including myself, are professionally oriented often forgetting about the great academic values and accomplishments of Haas. Even though we see the portraits of five of the greatest scholars every day, we rarely question who they are and how their academic works have impacted the world. My series, “Berkeley’s Nobel Prize-Winning Economists” will focus on getting to know these scholars and investigate on how their academic works have impacted the world of business.

Today’s post will be a short introduction to the series. The goal of today’s post is to let Haas students become a bit more familiar with the five portraits hanging on the B of A Forum that we can answer at least some of the questions that our friends or families might ask during their tour at Haas. In order to efficiently deliver the information about the five scholars, I have organized a short Q&A session. Here we go.

Q: Is there a Nobel Prize for Business?

A: No, all five Berkeley’s Nobel Laureates on the portraits have received Nobel Prize in Economic Science. However, their studies have all brought significant impacts to business decisions and strategies. For instance, Oliver Williamson’s research let businesses effectively evaluate the cost and benefits of outsourcing, significantly impacting business decisions of numerous firms around the world.

Q: When did the five scholars all join Berkeley/Haas?

A: Gerard Debreu joined UC Berkeley Faculty in 1962 when the Berkeley Economics Department was building up its staff. He also later received a joint appointment as a Mathematics professor. The following year, in 1963, Daniel L. Mcfadden joined UC Berkeley’s economic department. From 1979 to 1991, he moved to the economics department at MIT, but returned to UC Berkeley in 1991. John C. Harsanyi first became a visiting professor and then a professor at the Business School of UC Berkeley in 1964, which now has become the Haas School of Business. His appointment later extended also to the Department of Economics.

After receiving his PhD at MIT, George A. Akerlof became an assistant professor at Berkeley Economics Department and became a full professor in 1978. Oliver E. Williamson joined Economics Department at the University of California, Berkeley as an assistant professor in the fall of 1963. He left Berkeley in 1968 and taught at University of Pennsylvania and Yale, but came back to Berkeley in 1988. Since then, he stayed in Berkeley as an economics, law, and business professor.

 Q: So not everyone is a faculty member at Haas?

A: No, while all five scholars are Professor Emeritus, only John C. Harsanyi and Oliver E. Williamson are Professor Emeritus at the Haas School of Business. You can tell this by looking at the very bottom of each portrait where it indicates which department each scholar belongs to.

Q: Then why are we, the Haas School of Business, receiving the credit?

A: It is because their works have significantly impacted the business world as well as the economy. For instance, McFadden’s econometric methods helped businesses to understand behavioral patterns in individual decision making while Akerlof’s economic theory illustrated how markets malfunction when sellers and buyers have access to different information. Because Haas well acknowledges the value and the contribution that their academic works have brought to the world, we are proud to hang  their five portraits up on B of A Forum, a place that has become central to the life of the school.

Q: Where are they all now?

A: Nobel Prize medalThe three living UC Berkeley professors are Oliver Williamson, George Akerlof, and Daniel Mcfadden. As a professor Emeritus, none of them are currently teaching a regular class in Economics or Business at Berkeley. However, they still hold their offices in Haas and Evans. (Fun Fact: their offices are F434 Haas, 549 Evans, and 508-1 Evans, respectively!)

I am aware that my post today may not sufficiently explain who the five Nobel Laureates are or what they have accomplished. In my future posts, therefore, I will investigate on each Nobel Laureate and his work with a greater detail. As many of their works are convoluted, containing a vast amount of details and data, I will try my best to deliver my future posts approachable, incorporating various metaphors and analogies. Schoolworks are hard enough. We don’t want another dry reading.

The five portraits of the Nobel Prize scholars are the potent symbols of the fact that we are an institution that seriously believe academic as our huge asset. That is, in the last analysis, what these portraits represent. Thanks for reading my first blog entry.


Big Reasons To Give

Next Thursday, November 19th is UC Berkeley’s annual campus-wide ‘Big Give’ 24-hour donation campaign. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and The Big Game, Cal departments compete in a fundraising frenzy reaching out to parents, students, faculty, and alumni for donations. This year’s theme, “Think Bigger”, encourages campaign participants to help Berkeley continue growing bigger and better (and perhaps to ‘think’ about a ‘bigger’ donation than last year!). UC Berkeley only receives 12% of its funding from the state, making private donations a vital source of revenue to maintain Berkeley’s world-leading high standards of excellence and achievement, successfully competing against the world’s top private universities.

Haas’ excels at the ‘Big Give’ drive, earning recognition as the college campaign with the greatest student participation and generating $560,000 in donations. The business school’s success in 2014 was a triumph and this year, it’s time for students, parents, and faculty not only to ‘Think Bigger” but ‘donate bigger’ too. The roughly $306 million endowment supports Haas’ goal of “redefining how the world does business” by inspiring and challenging its students to innovate, reimage, lead, and ‘think bigger’.

Despite proven success in our consistently high departmental and overall program rankings (at least top 10), the business school needs more money to support its degree programs, scholarships and fellowships, faculty recruiting, alumni recourses, career services, and Dean Lyons’ initiative projects. In order to stay on top Haas must compete for resources, professors, and students with other prestigious business schools that have multi-billion (yes, that’s billion with a ‘b’) dollar endowments.

Over the next week, think about what Haas means to you and what has made your experience special. It can be easy to take our unique learning environment for granted. Every perk, including our Nobel Laureate professors, career panels and recruiting events, Happy Office Hours, beautiful campus, and even our special, coveted, undergraduate backpacks contribute to our unique Haas experience but cost money.

We’re students always, dedicated to this campus and continuing our academic curiosity and intellectual pursuits. Every donation helps give students the resources to question the status quo and challenge and exceed expectations. Our culture inspires confidence without attitude and exudes a quiet, sophisticated assurance in our individual and united success.

Remember: Next Thursday, November 19th, go beyond yourself and make a contribution to Haas’ Big Give campaign and encourage alumni, parents, and cheering friends and relatives to do the same.

College to Career with Career Contessa

As current juniors and seniors, many Haas undergraduates feel the presence of graduation lurking just around the corner, promising to launch them into the real world whether they are ready or not. I am writing today about an extremely useful resource that aims to empower young female professionals and helps these women successfully set and manage their career goals. Professional development website, Career Contessa, founded by former Hulu recruiter, Lauren McGoodwin, serves as a center for “honest conversations by real women about work and life” with the goal of “helping you achieve fulfillment and balance in both.” Career Contessa inspires young women through articles featuring interviews of modern influential women, “Contessas,” who share their personal stories of exceling in work and life. Through these interviews, a variety of informational articles on navigating life and career, as well as job postings, Career Contessa provides a wealth of knowledge for any young professional beginning their career.

Lauren McGoodwin speaking to members of Berkeley Women in Business at the Haas School of Business

Lauren McGoodwin speaking to members of Berkeley Women in Business at the Haas School of Business

On her “Women’s Career Empowerment Collage Tour,” Lauren McGoodwin visited UC Berkeley campus and met with student organizations including Berkeley Women in Business and Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority to discuss the transition from college into a successful career. McGoodwin’s goal for this tour is to empower college women during their job search and leave them feeling confident that they are prepared with the resources they need to secure their dream job.

In 10 steps, Career Contessa provides an outline to help students discover what they love and set goals to land their ideal career. During her presentation McGoodwin discusses everything from the preparation steps of how to get organized and set up informational interviews, to ways you can leverage your network and ace your interview. During this tour McGoodwin will visit a total of 11 universities and speak with different women-focused campus groups, leaving empowered, confident young women in her wake.

McGoodwin and the rest of the Career Contessa team work everyday to inspire individuals to do what they love and be great at it! To learn more and take advantage of the resources Career Contessa has to offer please visit

Internship Insights from Haas Students

Chances are you or someone you know is recruiting for an internship right now. “Where do I want to work? What am I looking for in an internship? What’s the culture like?” – these are questions Haas students frequently think about. Whether it’s networking at info sessions, reaching out to firms, or doing online research, we are all taking steps to find the best fit for our internship. Fortunately, some of the best internship insights can be found within the Haas community!

To kick off the recruiting season, here are recent internship highlights from a few of our own students:


Richard Lui (Haas ‘17)

Company: Tumblr

Position: Ad Operations Intern

What made your internship meaningful?

I was motivated by the fact that my team was monetizing a billion-dollar social media platform. The ad product and operations team was the only profitable vertical at the company and figuring how to balance the monetization while keeping social media users happy is one of the most exciting challenges in the tech space. I also had the chance to work at the Yahoo NY office (Yahoo owns Tumblr) and worked across different teams (Yahoo Search + Tumblr finance). Tumblr expects interns to dive into their work on the 2nd or 3rd day and treats them like full-time employees, regardless of whether you’re a sophomore or senior –this pushed me to learn a lot over the summer.

Unique events:

Some examples include joint mixers with Etsy and Buzzfeed interns, Intern Speakr series (one non-technical and technical manager comes to talk to us every week), Weekly show and tell where employees share hobbies and interests, Happy hours every other day, Food Truck Wednesdays (Tumblr rents out some of NY’s best food trucks and gets them to feed the company at our door). I even had the chance to have lunch with the CEO (David Karp) in a group setting! I also got to meet Mac Miller at a happy hour.


In a couple of adjectives, the culture at Tumblr is: supportive, inclusive, and generous. Beyond the amazing office layout, office management, and the daily perks of food/drinks/space, I definitely think it’s the way people just joke around and have fun at the office that truly makes Tumblr a special place to work. People willingly come in during the weekends to work at our treadmill desks, play foosball and hangout in our lounges.

Advice to Future Interns:

Apply to Tumblr, invest yourself in your team’s work, get to know as many people as you can at the office, go to all the Happy hours, and eat to your heart’s content.

Life Lessons:

Talking to the CEO (David Karp is 29 and worth over 200M) – his life story and presence really inspires you to chase after your passions and what you truly believe in. I also got to hear about the social/professional backgrounds of a lot of Tumblr managers in different teams and they’re all super amazing. It’s really different from the strictness of finance.

accentureJean Song (Haas ‘17)

Company: Accenture

Position:  Management Consulting Summer Analyst

What made your internship meaningful?

It was so exciting and challenging to be such an integral part of the team on one of Accenture’s largest projects. I never once felt like the intern! Almost everything I worked on was seen by the client executives.

On only my second day, a partner at Accenture IM’ed me at 11 pm that night to ask if I could finish a really important client presentation for him. I got to have dinner with him as well as many other Managing Directors, Partners, and client VPs over the summer, which was probably the best networking experience I could have gotten.

I was lucky enough to get staffed on a project that let me travel occasionally, giving me a solid introduction to the real consulting lifestyle. There was one intern who I was friends with that had to travel weekly to Texas from SF for her project! I got to fly out to Pasadena and San Diego for my work throughout the summer. It was incredibly fun and definitely something I didn’t mind doing!

Unique events:

There were many coffee chats/breakfasts with Managing Directors in the San Francisco office every Friday as well as really great networking events. All of the 400+ interns across the nation were flown into the Chicago area to attend an Accenture intern leadership conference during the middle of the summer.

The Sunday before our first day, all the Bay Area interns got a private cable car to drive us all around San Francisco including Nob Hill and the Golden Gate Bridge. There were so many intern dinners, a bouncy house social, Giants games, Happy Hours, and a service event at Baker Beach. I know some of the interns got to go to free concerts!


The people at Accenture are incredibly friendly, smart, and fun! The San Francisco and San Jose office especially have a pretty laid-back culture.  I love how extensive the Accenture network is and the fact that the firm has so many incredible projects, global offices, and supportive resources.

Advice to Future Interns:

Seek every opportunity you can to learn something new and take on a challenging project or task. More importantly, be open to getting constant feedback. If feedback isn’t given to you on a regular basis, ASK for it!

I think one of the best things I did was go into my project with a list of goals I wanted to accomplish for the summer. I scheduled a coffee chat with my manager on my first day to review my goals so he would know what I hoped to learn and work on this summer. I was able to check off all my goals and had an incredible summer experience.

Life Lessons:

Before working at Accenture, I never realized how much truth there is in the fact that the people you work with are a huge determining factor in whether you will enjoy and/or succeed at your career. At any job you will do, there’s going to be at least a few times when you’re cranking out insane hours. Liking the people sitting around you are what will get you through those hours/days/weeks. The people I got to meet at Accenture are definitely what I miss the most about my summer!

goldman sachs

Sunny Huang (Haas ‘16)

Company: Goldman Sachs

Position: Internet Equity Research Summer Analyst

What made your internship meaningful?

Because I covered the Internet sector in equity research, I worked on rapidly growing companies such as Netflix, Amazon, eBay, Lending Club, and Twitter. It was very interesting having the opportunity to learn about each company’s business model and what drives their growth. As well, I enjoyed thinking about these companies from an investor’s perspective and understanding what our clients care about.

Unique events:

My favorite event was when the firm took us to Escape the Room in New York. We were split up into groups of eight and were put into a murder mystery-esque room with clues to find the key out of the room. Although none of the teams managed to escape, it was definitely a highlight of the summer spending the afternoon with my intern class trying to figure out the clues to escape. In addition, the firm also hosts many other intern events such as a fireside chat with CEO Lloyd Blankfein, a Yankees game, and happy hours.


As cliché as it sounds, your internship really is what you make of it. My internship was very unstructured, and I had to take responsibility for my own learning. The workplace provides a completely different and exciting learning platform from what we’re accustomed to at school. Especially during the first few weeks of your internship, you’re essentially getting paid to learn, which is really a very exciting thing. I spent a lot of time reading reports, doing my own research, and taking advantage of the firm’s resources.
Advice to Future Interns:

Take advantage of the wealth of resources available to you and use it as an opportunity to learn about yourself and your potential career trajectory. Be sure to grab coffee with some of the full-time professionals at the firm. They have a lot of experience and knowledge that you can pick their brains about.

Life Lessons:

Goldman was a particularly interesting place to work because of its sheer scale. It has many other divisions outside of investment research, and the firm encouraged interns to explore other career options. As such, I had the opportunity to learn about the intricate workings of an investment bank and the many other services Goldman offers.


Jessica Welsh (Haas ‘16)

Company: LinkedIn

Position: Human Resource Intern

What made your internship meaningful?

At LinkedIn, I was treated as a full-time employee. There was no segregation between “interns” and other employees. I was assigned meaningful projects where I was actually able to make an impact on the company, to challenge processes, and to design innovative solutions. I was proud to be a part of a company that has such a strong culture that resonates throughout every aspect of the company: the company “All-Hands,” the team projects, the delicious cafeteria lunches, you name it.

Unique events:

LinkedIn killed it at the intern events. The events were impactful, beneficial, and fun! We had a mix of professional growth events such as interviews, speaker panels, and profile building workshops, as well as relationship-building events such as BBQ’s, Ice Cream parties, Hackathons, Disneyland trips, and team outings. Through these events, I learned valuable advice and life-lessons from remarkable mentors including CEO Jeff Weiner, Senior VP of HR Pat Wadors, and Co-founder Reid Hoffman. All the while, I was able to connect with interns within and outside of my department.  


LinkedIn solidified my belief in “culture fits.” I was in awe at how well their recruiting process worked; every person I met at LinkedIn shared core values that connected our unique personalities — humor, drive, honesty, selflessness, and courage. The people at LinkedIn are the type of people who drop what they’re doing to help someone with a project, people who take full ownership of their projects (successes and failures), people who challenge the process to always innovate and always grow. We get our work done, get it done well, and have fun while doing it! My favorite part of the firm is the people. It was amazing to experience how a group of young, diverse minds from completely different backgrounds collaborate to create innovative solutions.

Advice to Future Interns:

Stay curious, commit fully to everything you do, and say “yes.” LinkedIn offers so many opportunities to connect, to grow personally and professionally, and to take risks. LinkedIn prioritizes talent, whether it comes from an intern or a top executive. If you have an innovative idea, share it. Take intelligent risks and say “yes” to opportunities and passions that intrigue you. You won’t know if you enjoy something until you try. Last of all, always remember that you are an Intern first. As an intern, you are expected and encouraged to take time to explore yourself, to explore different parts of the company that you are curious about. LinkedIn acts as an incubator to help you find what you actually enjoy doing. Fully commit to the opportunities you say “yes” to and take advantage of all of the resources you have to explore your passions.

Life Lessons:

I learned the power of following my passions, of taking small steps towards my interests. It’s easy to theorize or read about what I want to do, but talking with someone who does it or actually doing it are so much more valuable. Every step I take toward my interests and passions expose new insights that I never could have reached had I not said “yes” to opportunity.

“The Power of One Another” – Executive MBA Networking Panel & Happy Hour

Photo Courtesy of HBSA Facebook page

Photo Courtesy of HBSA Facebook page

Last week, Haas undergraduate students and Executive MBA students from the classes of 2015 and 2016 joined for a unique event on the Haas campus. From 6:00pm to 7:30pm, we heard from a panel of four EMBAs: Prashant Chouta from Apple, Julia Felts, from The Sourcery, Saurabh Verma, from Twitter, and Elizabeth Lowry, from Isolation Network Inc.


Photo Courtesy of HBSA Facebook page

The four professionals answered questions ranging from, “What advice do you wish someone had given you?” and, “How do you find a mentor?” to, “What’s your favorite food at FIFO?” (Note: the EMBAs have a well-supplied snack room, so they actually never eat at FIFO).

After the panel, undergraduate and EMBAs mingled at the Bank of America Forum, snacking on pizza and continuing the conversation in an informal networking session. This was a fantastic opportunity for undergraduate students to ask any questions that they were unable to fit in during the panel earlier.

Vice President of Alumni and MBA Relations, Daniel Phan (undergraduate class of 2016), gave his perspective on bringing this event together: 

What was the main goal of the EMBA Panel and Happy Hour?

The main goal of the EMBA Panel & Happy Hour was to foster a relationship between the Undergrad Program and MBA Program here at Haas. This is the first time that an event has been planned between the two degree programs and ultimately, it was to give undergrads the chance to get advice and insights regarding their careers and possibly furthering their education through getting an MBA in the future. These Executive MBAs are a huge asset for Haas and undergraduate students, as they have so much experience in their careers that they can answer and relate to many of the things that Undergrads are going through right now.

What were some of the challenges in coordinating and bringing together the event?

The biggest challenge of planning and putting together this event was probably scheduling. The Executive MBAs have a unique schedule where they are only at Haas for a few days every couple of weeks, so it was important to find a date where all the panelists could be here. On the Undergrad side, I wanted to choose a date and time when not too many people had midterms or other obligations to attend to. In addition to scheduling, another challenge was the vision and concept for the event. It definitely took time to plan out exactly how the event was to be run and what we wanted both sides to get out of it.

Who did you work with primarily, during the planning process?

I primarily worked with Lucky Sandhu, who graduated from the Undergrad Program here at Haas in 1996, and is now back for his EMBA, and Alessandra Demmons, who is the Associate Director of Undergraduate Student & Alumni Engagement. Without these two, the event definitely would not have been possible.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

This event is hopefully the first of many between the Undergrads and MBA students. If anyone has any ideas for events or programs that they would like to see happen, please contact me at!

Adding another perspective, EMBA Lucky Sandhu (class of 2015) shared his thoughts on the panel and networking event:

As an EMBA, what was the goal or value that you saw in creating a panel and networking event to bring together Executive MBA students and Haas Undergraduate students?

I have been honored to have earned my undergraduate degree from Haas, hence, I know first-hand how special our undergraduate (UG) program is. Similarly, the Haas EMBA program is also amongst the elite programs, in its category, across the U.S. All of my EMBA classmates are thought leaders in the management ranks of their respective companies and industries, each having a median work experience of 13 years. When I returned to Haas to pursue my EMBA, it was very clear to me from the onset that our EMBAs could and should add more value to our esteemed UG program. Our specific goal was to build a bridge between our EMBAs and UGs where the UGs had an opportunity to receive career advice, professional insights, and recruiting tips from some of our most seasoned students and industry practitioners, right here on campus.

How long did it take to bring this event together?

The vision for this event took shape at Haas’ signature annual alumni event – The Haas Gala in November 2014. Along with terrific support from Development and Alumni Relations (Alessandra Demmons, Meg Roundy), UG student leaders (first, Sam Choi, VP of alumni and MBAs and then Dan Phan, Sam’s successor) and EMBA Program Office (including all of our amazing EMBAs), we started the planning activities for two ‘first-of-its-kind’ EMBA/UG events as early as February of 2015. The first event, UG Etiquette and Networking, took place in late March. The second event was the recently concluded EMBA/UG Panel and Networking event.

What is the biggest takeaway that you wanted undergraduate students to have?

At Berkeley-Haas, the foundational principle that keeps us connected as one family, long after our time as students is over, is a wonderful concept that Dean Lyons aptly calls “The Power of One Another” ( As Haas students and alumni, each one of us carries a unique ability to contribute towards the transformational success of one another. We want our UGs to know that the entire School stands behind them in their success. And, when they reach dizzying heights in their careers and lives, we hope that they will come back to help others and continue to further our School’s defining principle of #BeyondYourself.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My hope is that in future years the events that we started with our UGs in 2015 continue to evolve, add more value, and be adopted by future classes of all MBA programs, including the FTMBA and EWMBA. Together we can continue to take Berkeley-Haas to new heights.

Boss Day The Haas Way

National Boss’s Day: the day we’re all training for.

The diverse, collaborate, and imaginative spirit of Haas is exemplified in the wide range of impressive alumni. Bosses, from Presidents, CEOs, CFOs, and Founders of the top marketing, advertising, accounting, consulting, investment banking, and hedge fund firms in the world to visionaries who launched their own companies.

Experiencing the Haas campus, we should all be encouraged and inspired by the success of our forBEARers in an extraordinary galaxy of accomplishment. Now, and historically, Haas as produced bosses across an extremely diverse group of industries; everything from the CEOs of Electronic Arts, President of JoeBoxer, Chairman and President of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, CEO of Adobe Systems, President of Absolut Vodka, or the star of CollegeHumor productions. Their success motivates current Haas students, reassured that we are being educated, groomed, and trained to be future ‘captains of industry’. Confidence that we will find success, in the company of tens of thousands of other Haas alumni, is an added inspiration to follow the defining principles of Haas.

The Haas culture inspires greatness by encouraging students to question the status quo, project confidence and enthusiasm without attitude or arrogance, continue their lifelong pursuit of knowledge, and make a positive difference in the world. Since 1898, The Haas School of Business, with nearly 40,000 alumni, has inspired, trained, and created an extensive and diverse network of the world’s business leaders and innovators.

Perhaps what is most impressive about Haas alumni is their spirit, enthusiasm, and pride in Berkeley and the business school. Every week alumni are on the Haas campus encouraging and mentoring MBA and undergraduate students in presentations, job recruiting, and teaching. Alumni are eager to engage with current students, providing support and encouragement.

On a future Boss’s Day, possibly as soon as next year, some of us will be honored as impressive Haas alumni who have achieved and excelled.