In the middle of my third week here in Berlin and I’m starting to feel like a native. Being forced to use public transportation 24/7 helps immensely. Berlin is a very widespread city, so at times getting places can take a long while –– otherwise the system is extremely efficient and getting a monthly pass makes it cost effective. During the past free weekend I was able to travel to Prague, Czechia at an unbeatable price and the bus station is directly connected the stations where the U-Bahn or metro takes us.
This week we are doing consulting work for a Berlin startup betahaus, which is a co-working firm similar to WeWork in the United States. They have several location across Europe –– two in Berlin, which we have been using as our “classroom” for the week. It’s really exciting to get the hands on work experience I’ve been searching for out of my freshman summer. Our assignment allows us to have a lot of freedom in determining what to better in the company and requires us to venture around the city even more so than before. Our group did a web/ tech based enhancement to the current betahaus experience –– other groups worked in a similar fashion. One group created a physical product with a prototype demo within the 4 days that we had. We then presented to one of the CEO’s and the head of marketing, and got lots of constructive feedback on what we were doing well, what could be improved, whether they had tested these ideas etc.
The final week does a good job of culminating our in-class work from weeks one and two, while also building another layer of depth to the concept of the program. On Tuesday and Thursday our “class” schedule was determined by us and what we needed to accomplish and allowed many of us to try out things in Berlin that were otherwise inaccessible. The Berlin School of Economics and Law Summer School also has many other program options with schedules that differ from ours so getting to connect with those students for longer periods of time was nice. They had differing cultural visits that fit with their program which some people could actually attend. Our program visits were more so based on companies or UX testing to view startup pitches.
Overall, the access to such intelligible individuals in the Berlin community made the learning experience really invaluable and implicitly gave me a new perspective on how to conduct myself professionally and in academia.