Gabriel Giguere-Joannette usually spends his summers working at a water park: the Super Aqua Club in Pointe-Calumet, Quebec. This summer, however, is the last before he graduates from McGill University, and he’s nowhere near water slides and pools. Instead, at 8:00 am every weekday, he’s sitting in a Financial Accounting class with about 50 other students at UC- Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
The students are all enrolled in BASE (Business for Arts, Science, and Engineering), an intensive six-week summer program designed to increase non-business majors’ marketability, and for Giguere-Joannette, a civil engineering major at McGill, business skills are something he’s never had time to develop.
“It’s very much like an immersion,” he says. “We’re thinking about business all day, and if I have free time, I try to do extra reading and learn more – I’m trying to get everything I can from this.”
SIX HOURS IN CLASS, MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY
Several of Giguere-Joannette’s BASE classmates agree with him, all reporting that though the program has aspects like coffee breaks, field trips, and dorm living, which lighten the spirit and add an element of summer, it is by and large very academic. They spend six hours in the classroom Monday through Thursday, attend workshops or go on trips around San Francisco and Silicon Valley on Fridays. According to several, hardly anyone skips class.
Students can apply to the program between November and March of each year. If admitted, the program currently costs $7,440, which covers all tuition costs, course readers, group lunches, and a gym membership. For students who do not live in the area, housing in a campus dormitory costs an additional $2,656 for a shared room, or $3,136 for a single.
The students are all ambitious, driven people, according to Giguere-Joanette, and they almost all have career-oriented reasons for attending. Giguere-Joanette and his classmate Erik Anderson, a rising junior at Tufts University who is majoring in French and international relations, both say they’re participating because they felt like their majors weren’t providing them with necessary workplace skills.
‘LOOKING FOR SUMMER INTERNSHIPS I REALIZED MY SKILL SET WASN’T IDEAL’
“My majors are French and IR, and no aspect of business really comes into that – except maybe a little in economics. For me, I realized while looking for summer internships that my skillset is not really what a lot of the jobs I’m interested in want,” Anderson said.
Others, like Lara Gruye, a rising senior and pre-med student at Cornell University, are at BASE to learn skills that they feel will supplement their careers.
“As a pre-med, I’ve never had the time to take business classes – it’s so science heavy – and I felt like I was missing out on life lessons,” Gruye says. “I was really interested in BASE because I think that with any career, basic business knowledge is important, and if I were to open a private practice, I’ll want to be business savvy.”
The program began on July 7 this year, and days at BASE start early. Some students who are from the San Francisco Bay Area commute to UC-Berkeley each day, and many of the others live in a dorm – with all the female BASE students on one floor and all the male BASE students on another. They eat together, and then make their way to classes.