When Michelle Lu, BS 21, applied to UC Berkeley four years ago, she planned to study engineering.
But then she checked a box that changed her future.
“There are only a few decisions that really change the course of one’s life,” said Lu, who is among 41 students in the founding Management, Entrepreneurship & Technology (M.E.T.) class that graduated last Saturday. “Applying to and attending M.E.T. was one of those decisions for me.”
“We’re so proud of these students, who are graduating with a unique and valuable set of business skills—from leadership to microeconomics— and specialized engineering talent,” said Erika Walker, assistant dean of undergraduate programs. “We can’t wait to see what this class accomplishes with these two degrees.”
Program founder Michael Grimes, EECS 87, and head of Global Technology Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley, said the the pioneering first M.E.T. graduates are already living up to the expectations set when the program was established.
“With deep technology training and business and management skills already developed, the incredibly successful career launches of the founding class of M.E.T. proved the unlimited demand for these uniquely dual skilled technology leaders,” he said.
Launching a new program
The M.E.T. program is highly competitive, drawing about 2,500 applications for just 40 slots in the inaugural class—an acceptance rate of less than 3%. “It was a leap of faith for students to join this new program when they had really compelling offers from other schools,” said Chris Dito, M.E.T.’s executive director. Dito praised Dawn Kramer, M.E.T.’s associate director, for her work to launch and expand the program and for her deep commitment to the students. “It’s not easy to launch a new program at a public university,” she said. “It’s tricky and she helped pull it off.”
Part of the challenge was admitting the right students, which Kramer believes they did. “The students demonstrated their interests from the start, and we were able to keep opening doors and providing opportunities for them at Berkeley. They took advantage of that,” she said.
Akshat Gokhale, BS 21, who earned the undergraduate Department Citation with a 4.0 GPA, praised the intellectual diversity of the M.E.T. students. “Each of us has a different background and story, and each of us is harnessing our dual degree in a distinct way,” said Gokhale, who is heading to McKinsey’s Digital Group as a business analyst. “So, no matter what you’re interested in researching or building, there’s most likely someone in M.E.T. who can help.”
No matter what you’re interested in researching or building, there’s most likely someone in M.E.T. who can help. – Akshat Gokhale, BS 21
Developing their resumes
The job offers M.E.T. students are accepting reflect the program’s intersection of business and tech, and they say their internships played a critical role in developing their resumes.
Lu said M.E.T. provided the kinds of opportunities that “you couldn’t get anywhere else,” including an internship at Zoom, which she landed sophomore year. “I started as a project manager and by the end I was doing everything.” (Grimes helped establish the first M.E.T. internships at Zoom). She’s now heading to a job as a technology investment analyst at Morgan Stanley.
Ganeshkumar Ashokavardhanan, BS 21, said the quality of mentorship in the M.E.T. program was “immensely helpful and inspiring—everything from the office hours with M.E.T. board members to the access to tech and business leaders who visited campus to the fellowships and internships the program provided.” As a freshman, Ashokavardhanan was chosen as a Kleiner Perkins Fellow, (along with fellow M.E.T. student Louie McConnell) from thousands of applicants. As a fellow, he interned at one of Kleiner’s portfolio companies.
Ashokavardhanan was also selected for the Accel Scholars mentorship program, where he learned about venture capital, how to fund a company and how to lead product and engineering teams. After interning for two summers at Microsoft on the Azure cloud computing team, he accepted a job with the company.
Michael Trehan, BS 21, said his experiences in the M.E.T. program equipped him to apply for a job that he’d typically need an MBA to get. He interned in software engineering at Intel and on the project management team of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco before taking a summer analyst internship at JP Morgan, where he has accepted a full-time tech analyst job in San Francisco. “I never thought I would be doing this when I came into Berkeley,” Trehan said. “But here I am graduating early and doing investment banking out of the M.E.T. program. I’m super grateful.”
With the first class bidding farewell to M.E.T., a new class of 56 students will arrive on campus this fall.
Saikat Chaudhuri, M.E.T.’s new faculty director, said he has three long-term goals for the program. These include re-imagining the curricular and co-curricular offerings, creating a summer program for high school students, and developing M.E.T. into a lifelong community.