University of California Berkeley

21 February 2019

Karl Overdick, a penultimate year ESPS student, spent three weeks experiencing the work of an organisational behaviour lab at the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley. Read about his experiences in the lab and exploring the Golden State.

Karl Overdick, European Social & Political Studies

This summer, I obtained lab experience at the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley. My main aims in undertaking the opportunity were as follows. Firstly, I am a student of Economics and wanted to find out more about more behavioural research. Three weeks in an organisational behaviour lab allowed me to do so. Secondly, I hoped to get a taste of the academic culture of the US. Thirdly, I wanted to obtain first-hand experience in academic research and find out what the life of a professor is really like. My time at the Haas School of Business enabled me to reach all of these aims.


On one hand, I was involved in the lab where I undertook a range of tasks from helping with lab studies with real human subjects to making surveys online and helping with study design. On the other hand, I got to see the university, its students and how the student experience differs from my experience at UCL. The wide range of people I met was great because it meant that I could ask all the questions that were on my mind. 

There were many benefits to undertaking the programme, particularly in the context of my career aspirations. One of the options I am considering for my future is an academic career, and my stay at Berkeley confirmed to me that this is an option I would seriously like to consider. In addition, having practical experience in America is great for my CV because research in the US is famous for being high-quality, especially at UC Berkeley. Lastly, I was very happy to go back to the US just to experience its culture because I had been only once before. Whatever your future aims are, there will be a country and a place where you can get a lot closer to them all while living in a new culture. 



Personal highlights during the programme ranged from conversations I had regarding the exciting studies we worked on as well as the great places I saw in California. One particular highlight was going to swim in a nearby natural reserve where we were almost alone in beautiful nature. In addition, I really enjoyed the lab meetings with all the other RAs which provided the chance to get to know each other and discuss all the tasks we were working on. 

In terms of challenges, one thing that happened to me unexpectedly was that my bank account was empty all of a sudden and I didn't know why. I was lucky enough to get money from my father on short notice. What had happened to me was that I got charged high fees for paying my tuition fees in London that I hadn't thought about. This way I was 200 Euros short of the balance I had in mind. Therefore, I would advise to have sufficient funds on your bank account so that you never come close to having to ask someone for more. 

If you are considering a short-term study abroad opportunity, my advice is do it! You are at a point in your life where you are still relatively independent and can go wherever you please whenever you please (within certain limits). What's great is that there are places where it won’t even cost much to spend some time during the summer. The stories you will be able to tell and the experiences you make will be with you your whole life.