Interview with Startup Garden Assistant Michael Yang, UC Berkeley

Interview with Startup Garden Assistant Michael Yang, UC Berkeley


This is already the second year that the 4-week Startup Garden summer program for South Korean entrepreneurship students from KEF (Korean Entrepreneurship Foundation) has been organized. This year, the program has been organized parallel with the Aalto University course Management of a Technology Venture, so that both Aalto students and Korean students could mix with each other and form international teams. To get both courses running smoothly, we have had the pleasure to have Michael Yang from University of California, Berkeley helping us out!

Michael is a graduate from UC Berkeley with a degree in Cognitive Science. While mainly interested in medicine, he also loves to dabble in other fields such as computer science and business. During his off time, you can find him either wandering around the city trying out food or trying to catch Pokémon.

Michael, why did you decide to join Startup Garden as a course assistant?

There are a few reasons why I decided to join as a course assistant; the most important one being the opportunity to learn. Not only could I learn about the culture of a region I had never been to, but this was also an opportunity to learn about business and possibly the application of business to my interests.

Tell us something about your tasks and what you’ve learned during your time here.

Aside from the administrative tasks of being the course assistant, I am also a coach for the teams to consult with throughout the course. I wanted to invoke their creativity for the assignments to make themselves stand out and have more fun. I also wanted to be able to bridge the gap between the international students that are participating in this program. I feel like this is a great chance for cultural exchange and to create international relationships. This has been a learning process for me and hopefully a learning experience for the other students here. I’ve learned so much about the world of business and startups from the speakers we’ve had and the students that I have interacted with.

What has your experience in Finland been like, and what interests you about the country?

My stay in Finland has been amazing. The people here are very helpful. The thing I find most astonishing about Finland is its education system. It’s much more liberated than what I’m used to but I feel like it’s a good thing. It allows students to pursue their own interests without the financial burden of having to pay for education.

 You have some ideas for the program of 2017. Tell us a little bit about them!

One day, Timo [Nyberg] mentioned that he wanted to start a summer program in which students would be able to teach other students in the form of lectures. I thought that this idea is very similar to something that we have at Berkeley, the DeCal system. Essentially, DeCals are student run and taught lectures that other students may take for units (like normal classes). What makes them really great is that the topics can be whatever the students want. 

Thanks, Mike. We hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Finland, and come visit us again soon!