Homeless To Haas: UC-Berkeley’s Tech Twins

The Ansell twins. UC-Berkeley Haas photo

For many, there are mental barriers keeping them from the tech industry. Identical twins Mark and Andrew Ansell have set out to change this perspective. Their tools? A YouTube channel capturing their experience interning at tech behemoths including Tesla, Apple, and Microsoft — and an unstoppable motivation that has taken them from homelessness to UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

HOMELESS TO HAAS

In Los Angeles in 2012, the boys came home from school to find out that their family had been evicted. For the next year they moved from homeless shelter to homeless shelter around the city. Despite the darkness of the situation, their parents encouraged them to focus on their education and the twins propped each other up.

“I fully recommend everyone to get an identical twin,” chuckles Mark. “You have someone invested in you for every aspect of your life.”

The Ansells turned to the internet for inspiration. Mark explains, “We listened to inspirational videos from people we admired like Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey.” To watch these videos they needed phones and a phone plan, which they acquired after landing their first jobs.

The twins focused their minds and pushed past societal expectations. “There was a $50,000 national scholarship that our counselor did not recommend us for, and after getting the proper information from her, we applied,” Mark recalls. “I ended up winning the scholarship and Andrew was fortunate to receive several thousand dollars as well. From that experience, I learned the importance of being my own biggest advocate.”

The Ansells were interested in learning all they could about the tech industry and set their sights on Berkeley. Thanks to their hard work and commitment, both were accepted and started as mechanical engineering students. They soon noticed many of their peers were taking business classes, and wanted in.

“Haas is a deeply mission-oriented school that aims to solve really big problems in the world,” Andrew says. “We were intrigued by that.”

Although applying to Haas was a challenge, the twins never faltered. “It was the next best step, having both the tech and the business knowledge,” explains Mark. As of 2018, the brothers were the only two double majoring in business and mechanical engineering.

During their time studying abroad in the spring of 2018, the Ansells were selected to talk about their journey at a Tedx event at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. The twins laid out the key principles that has kept them going and growing: 1. Create an inspiring vision. 2. Cultivate your mind. 3. Create your own luck. 4. Serve others. 5. Respectful persistence.

As a part of their principle to serve others, the brothers started two experience-sharing platforms: the Momentum Speaker Series and The Tech Twins.

THE TECH TWINS TAKES OFF

Early on at Berkeley, the Ansells earned internships at several big players in Silicon Valley. Fellow students started seeking them out for advice. The requests grew so rapidly that the brothers decided to take their knowledge to a larger stage: YouTube. In December of 2017, Mark and Andrew launched their channel, The Tech Twins.

“We decided to create a platform to break down the barriers related to getting into the tech industry,” informs Mark. “We cover our internship experiences and interview others in tech.”

It goes beyond that, Andrew believes.

“This isn’t just another YouTube channel,” Andrew adds. “We truly believe the tech industry can change people’s lives. We want to help people see themselves in this industry and find out how to get there.”

The channel has grown to have over 1,500 subscribers and over 80,000 views. Videos focus on such topics as internships, studying abroad, and application advice. Their video, “A Day in the Life of a Microsoft Intern” has over 19,000 views alone. The brothers hope to continue adding content and helping others pave their way into the industry.

BEYOND BERKELEY

While the twins do not know where the future will take them, they both have impressive program manager internships at Microsoft this summer and graduate in December 2019. Mark explains, “If I stay open and follow my principles the bricks will lay themselves. We mainly want to keep making an impact and mentoring others.”