By Jill Vanderkar
Entrepreneurship certificate alumna Roberta Tanajura already has a job she values—being a mother. Although her two children fill her with much joy, Roberta is looking to get back into the business world.
In her native Brazil, she worked as an HR manager at a large construction company. But an opportunity for her family to move to the United States appeared: Her husband was accepted at University of Central Florida. And so the family packed and moved to the United States.
“During this time, I was navigating being a mother, making sure I was dedicating enough time for them, while finding new opportunities for myself and my career,” Roberta remembers. “I was ready for my own experience and wanted to continue my education. I was hoping that applying for a program in entrepreneurship would provide me with more opportunities in the future.”
And so she began to pursue her options.
How did you hear about the programs?
I originally heard about Berkeley Global from some Brazilian friends who had done similar programs. I decided to then do some research on my own. Berkeley is well known in Brazil, so it was not the first I had heard of the university!
What made you choose to study at Berkeley Global?
When I was living in Florida, my husband and I decided to visit UC Berkeley. I went to audit classes at both UC Berkeley Global and at the Haas School of Business. I loved both classes so much just from that one visit. So I decided to apply to both the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program and the Entrepreneurship and Start-Up Management Certificate Program. I couldn't just choose one!
An entrepreneurship program was an opportunity to try to analyze things differently and find a different way of working. I knew that I didn’t want to go back to working in a corporation. I was ready for a different working style, and I hoped this program would help me find that.
After being accepted to both programs, I talked to student advisers to decide which program would best fit my needs. They were helpful and explained that while both programs are great, the full-time Entrepreneurship and Start-Up Management Certificate Program is geared more toward professionals who are looking to expand their knowledge. This was what I was looking for, and I accepted the offer!
I arrived in Berkeley in January of 2020. Unfortunately, during my first semester the pandemic hit, and I had to go fully remote. My husband and I decided to return back to Brazil. Now that I am back in my home country, I would like to take what I am learning in school and begin working on a startup in the mental health field with my close friend.
Tell me about your classes, especially after going fully online!
I'm a people person, so I liked interacting and being with the other students—online learning was definitely something I had to get used to. But overall I had a good experience. We were still able to have our class discussions and I learned a lot.
The courses were interesting and such a unique experience. I was the eldest student in the program, so I was able to see different perspectives and mindsets from the younger students.
The teachers were great! I really liked the Entrepreneurial Leadership course with Stephen Torres. He challenged the class a lot. We were required to read one book each week. With having kids, this was a challenge—but a good challenge.
During the first couple weeks, I was a bit nervous but then I got used to the schedule and structure of the classes. I loved how the instructors motivated us.
I also enjoyed Design Thinking and Prototyping, taught by Jeff Eyet. He made us think outside of the box. We did a lot of group projects; the members of the groups changed often so it was interesting working with all different types of people coming from all over the world—Singapore, Italy, Spain and more. I love learning about new cultures, so this mix of people made my classes very interesting.
In the world today, it is important to understand how other people think. Taking these courses will help anyone understand how people from China, Europe or wherever do business and communicate, and you can learn from one another.
How was the dynamic in an American classroom different from being in a Brazilian classroom?
I think that American professors are very open to helping their students with the coursework. I appreciated them offering office hours or even just a few minutes to chat after class.
Instructor Stephen Torres would offer an hour during each week for anyone to come by and speak with him. We would have the chance to talk about our grades, the class discussions, homework, et cetera.
Also, I felt that the teachers really got to know us because of the small classroom size.
What were your top favorite things to do in Berkeley?
1. I am a food lover. I enjoyed trying new restaurants in the area.
2. I enjoyed hiking and visiting parks with my family.
3. I also like to drink wine. I loved visiting Napa with my husband and friends.
What advice on how to best succeed would you give to a student who's coming to study at Berkeley?
Really listen to what your teachers have to say. For example, when I got there we heard that it is important to interact and network with people in the Bay Area. In Brazil, meeting a new person for coffee without a reference is a bit strange—but in the Bay Area, this is so normal.
Be open-minded, and you will have the best experience!