Summer Internship at SkyDeck

After a short getaway in Hawaii, I was excited to start my BHGAP summer internship at Berkeley SkyDeck in May. I still remember SkyDeck was the first site visit in the BHGAP program (remember I mentioned it in my first blog post?). Its mission to become the top global accelerator for the world’s leading startups motivated me to learn more about how SkyDeck encourages the growth of its moonshots! Formed as a partnership between UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, SkyDeck not only accelerates campus innovation but also welcomes teams from all over the world. As a SkyIntern, I assisted in coordinating the Global Innovation Partner (GIP) program which allows global startups to accelerate at SkyDeck alongside SkyDeck’s startup teams.

The GIP program was launched quite recently with the aim to support global innovation by connecting them to talent, world-class resources, and the powerful faculty and alumni network of UC Berkeley. For Fall 2019, we welcomed 17 teams from Taiwan, Italy and China. I worked closely with the GIP program coordinator to ensure the teams get the most out of their Berkeley experience. As an international student, I could particularly relate to their needs, ranging from housing issues to campus resources. It is funny how after 5 months of study I got the opportunity to lead a campus tour for our newly arrived GIP teams, who probably felt as lost as I was in the beginning of BHGAP. And let me tell you, I felt extremely proud to show them the campus as a former Cal bear!

The campus tour was not the only way I shared my experiences in the Bay Area. My kind supervisor, Jun, trusted me to give our teams a workshop on Google Suite and Silicon Valley Etiquette. I jumped on this opportunity because I knew I could leverage the new insights I gained from my BHGAP courses and company visits. For example, Intel’s management principle to “disagree & commit,” which was discussed in professor Andrew Isaacs’ Innovation Strategies class, was just one of the concepts I was eager to share with our global startups. From the site visits, I shared how Bay Area corporate culture can be described as informal but serious. Email communication can be very relaxed, like using abbreviations and calling someone by their first names, but the content has absolute significance.

Furthermore, this opportunity allowed me to practice public speaking. As I was discussing my concerns with my coach, Arjanna, I learned that there are multiple ways to communicate my ideas. A workshop doesn’t have to be purely lecture-based but can incorporate interactive elements. Eventually, I decided to use Mentimeter to break down the lecture parts and allow the teams to participate in quizzes and discussion. This gave me some room to breathe during the 1-hour session. Coaching was actually a key part of my BHGAP internship experience. I had biweekly coaching sessions with Arjanna to discuss anything from my internship at SkyDeck to personal goals in life. I felt extremely grateful to have somebody supporting me throughout this process because I was able to reflect on my progress and make adjustments and improvements along the way.

Other tasks as a GIP intern include advisor office hours scheduling. At SkyDeck, there are more than 100 SkyAdvisors advising more than 100 startups. You can imagine how complex the whole process is, from creating office hour time slots to manually updating the calendar. At the end of my internship I realized how important this task was. Even a missed detail would affect the availability of our advisors and our startups would not be able to meet them. For our Global Innovation teams, I was also in charge of preparing and setting up an Advisor Meet & Greet. But no matter how detailed your plan is, there will always be last-minute changes and no-shows. I’m glad I learned how to respond to these changes! In my last week, I also got the chance to welcome our last GIP member. After onboarding him, I finally said my goodbyes to the GIP teams and friends I made at SkyDeck.

The highlight of my SkyDeck experience have been the people I met throughout those past 3 months. The staff, other SkyInterns and GIP teams became my friends at work. We would often laugh together, have lunch together, grab boba together and joke with each other. The closer I got with each and everyone of them, the more I dreaded my last day. I am grateful that I have a strong community to go back to next time I return to Berkeley!

Farewell dinner with GIP teams & SkyInterns

If you’re interested in learning more about my work, the logistics and how I applied to SkyDeck, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn 🙂

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