When middle school student Pedro Petcov arrived for summer session at the Berkeley Business Academy for Youth (B-BAY) at the Haas School of Business in 2015, he was unsure about whether he wanted to pursue a career in business.
“It’s a big decision,” said Petcov, 16, now a junior at Langley High School in Fairfax County, Virginia. But after spending two weeks immersed in intense business school learning in the B-BAY program, he was sold. “I learned that business was what I really wanted to do—and I will carry that decision into college and into life.”
Petcov, who returned to B-BAY this month as a program mentor, is one of more than 1,000 middle- and high-school students who have attended sessions over the past 10 years. B-BAY’s two-week sessions are designed to give students an introduction to a rigorous business education, and along the way, experience life as a Berkeley Haas student.
“Dare to dream big”
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, B-BAY hosted an event June 23 at Chou Hall, featuring a welcome (and a guitar performance) from Dean Richard Lyons, a silent auction, and the surprise honoring of Haas lecturer Frank Schultz, who made significant contributions to B-BAY over the past decade.
B-BAY was first founded for middle school students in 2008, and in 2013 began offering a residential session to high school students. It also opened the program to international students for the first time. Tuition from B-BAY partially supports Boost@BerkeleyHaas, a program which equips under-resourced students with the skills and the passion “to dare to dream big,” said Olive Davis, who created B-BAY and serves as director.
“We’re excited to celebrate all the great work we’ve been able to accomplish over the past decade,” Davis said. “We’ve watched so many students from cities in our backyard and from around the globe come to campus and blossom during their time here, turning into better thinkers and better leaders, ready to take the next step academically.”
“This program offers such a unique opportunity for students to spread their wings and experience everything from entrepreneurship to critical thinking in a rigorous business school environment,” said Berkeley Haas Dean Rich Lyons. “We’re looking forward to what the next 10 years bring for this successful program.”
The importance of teamwork
Each year, the program focuses on an area of concern to the business world. This summer, the high school students in the critical thinking class will study issues around credit cards, blockchain technology, and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. One team of five students will explore and make recommendations for regulation and governance of these new technologies, while others will develop business cases for their use, Davis said.
Business cases are a big part of the B-BAY curriculum, which is designed to foster the habits of critical thinking required for success as an entrepreneur. For the cases, students divide into teams of five, taking on roles such as CEO, CFO, COO, or the head of sales and marketing. Each team develops a business plan for a new company, and much like students in business school, conduct a “SWOT”—strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats—analysis of the proposed venture.
Catherine Tang, a senior at San Marino High School in California, who attended the program last year, said her biggest takeaway was understanding the importance of teamwork. “With our big project (on security and fraud prevention) it was really important to have everyone contributing to the group,” she said. “With everyone working together toward the same goal it really worked.”
Petcov said his positive experience with the program—which teaches sessions in everything from leadership, corporate responsibility, and accounting to marketing, finance, and public speaking—led him to return this year as a mentor helping with everything from organizing icebreakers for students to assisting them with their business cases.
“When I interacted with the peer mentors during my program I immediately said I wanted to come back and do this to share my own knowledge and passion,” he said.