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The Berkeley Haas Experience During COVID-19

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We continue to check in with MBA students around the globe, as they adjust to business school life that has been moved off campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  For Lipika Grover of Berkeley Haas, connections have been the key to surviving and thriving during this surreal time.  Read on for her story.

Lipika Grover, Berkeley Haas MBA ’20

Lipika Grover, Berkeley Haas MBA ’20

How is the online classroom experience going at your school? What’s different about it?
We’re all trying to make the most of our online classroom experience. While we have been put into this new learning environment, our professors have done a tremendous job switching their entire content online, and we’re lucky to have such adaptive leaders. That said, it’s certainly not the same as an in-person experience. I miss the hallway conversations that often led to interesting new ideas and connections. I miss being able to meet new classmates regularly. I miss the small talk with professors before and after class.

What is the technology platform your school is using to deliver classes online? Does it vary from class to class?
Like many others, Zoom has become our best friend these days. Thankfully, Berkeley has provided us with Zoom licenses that allow us to connect with our classmates for longer periods of time—we use it for all academic classes, coffee chats, and game nights with friends. Many of our professors have also posted pre-recorded videos before class, for us to watch on our own time, so we’re not sitting on Zoom for too many hours in one day. We use the Breakout session feature quite a bit in our classes, to ensure we’re staying engaged and having deeper conversations, rather than only listening to lectures. Each class certainly varies in terms of engagement based on the content that’s being taught, and I applaud our professors for being able to pivot to a virtual platform so quickly.

How are you maintaining relationships with your classmates, professors, and other b-school community members during this time period?
I’ve been scheduling 1:1 and group Zoom calls with many classmates, hoping to stay as connected as possible. We’re having game nights, dance classes, cooking classes, you name it. These connections are what’s been keeping me sane. I’m organizing a virtual graduation celebration with the Program Office, to provide some way to acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful two years we’ve spent together. Through each conversation with classmates, professors, and the broader b-school community, I’ve learned how this pandemic is impacting each person in a different way, and it’s important to lend an ear to all. We must take note of our mental and physical health throughout this time, and sending a quick note to say that you’re thinking of someone will go a long way.

If you are active in any clubs, how has their work continued?
As co-president of the Mindfulness Club, we’ve actually seen more engagement than we had pre-COVID19. We’ve organized several different meetups/classes, including yoga, meditation, and reflection activities. It’s been a powerful community to help us get through this crisis together. Seeing the leadership team come together at such a crucial time to provide support for the broader Berkeley Haas community has been reassuring. For other clubs, much of the work has paused to give each other time and space to cope with this massive change.

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Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.