Podcast

Episode Notes | Episode Transcript | AskTheGuest

 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)  3-Minute Listen

Mike Mochizuki is a graduate of Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in History.

Mike’s college journey was an experiment, testing out various hypotheses about what subject was right for him. While he could have easily pursued a career in medicine, he rejected that option because he didn’t love it enough.

Hi Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. “College is a Pretty Strange Time”
  2. Why Brown?
  3. Collaborative Classmates
  4. Vibrant Student Body
  5. Advice to Students

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Mike Mochizuki on Brown University: An Undergraduate Journey to Explore and Discover.

Episode summary introduction: Mike chose Brown because it would allow him to check out and explore a variety of courses in his bid to find the subject that would excite him the most.

Mike Mochizuki is a graduate of Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in History.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • Why Brown?
  • About Academic Exploration
  • Vibrant Student Body
  • Advice for Students

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introduction [0:39]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:27]
  • “College is a Pretty Strange Time” [5:10]
  • Why Brown? [7:58]
  • High School Interests [9:54]
  • Adjusting to Brown [11:37]
  • Collaborative Classmates [15:37]
  • Campus Life [19:37]
  • The Brown Derbies & Other Campus Activities [21:17]
  • Diverse Summer Pursuits [27:31]
  • Film Production Bug [32:00]
  • Back to the Future - to Brown! [36:22]
  • Advice to Students: Convey Excitement [39:35]
  • Memories: Being on Brown Campus [45:51]

Our Guest: Mike Mochizuki is a graduate of Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in History. Mike subsequently got an MBA from Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University.

Memorable Quote: “College is a Strange time”.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.

Calls-to-action:

Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

<Start Snippet> Mike M  0:06  

As much as people told me, look, don't take, I think it was Philosophy, like 101, wait until the spring because the professor there is amazing.

Yeah.

I was a little impatient. And so I kind of, I wanted to take that philosophy class. So I remember taking one that just instantly I should have, you know, you have a shopping period, but then go in, right, you take a class, you realize it's not the right fit, and you should cut bait. I had a lot of tough time acknowledging that.

Venkat  0:39 

Hi! Welcome to this episode of College Matters. Alma Matters.

Mike Mochizuki is a graduate of Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in History.

Mike believes that in order to excel at something, you have to love it.

With that in mind, Mike chose Brown because it would allow him to check out, and explore a variety of courses in his bid to find the subject that would excite him the most.

Mike traces his undergraduate journey through Brown with us today, and shares his takeaways.

Before we jump into the podcast, here are the HighFives,  5 Highlights from the podcast:

Mike M  1:27  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[College is a Pretty Strange Time]

Great and also sometimes terrifying about Brown is that the breadth and spectrum of the activities and interests and experiences of the other students I was with, were, were so broad and so interesting, and so dynamic that it did sometimes, I think, elevate those concerns that I had, and you know, reinforces that sense of imposter syndrome. Yeah.

[Why Brown?]

When I visited the school, when I talked with alumni was this idea of, you know, a journey and a[n] area for discovery. You know, there were some of the other schools that I've looked at, which were wonderful and amazing and very impressive, seemed to have much more of a desire that you showed up on day one, and at 17 or 18 years old, you already knew what you want to be doing when you were 40 or 50 years old, right.

[Collaborative Classmates]

And especially in the Premed track, which is fairly competitive, there were stories about how the nights before, like a big chemistry test, students at other schools would go out and they would check out all of the chemistry, chemistry books from the library. Just right to prevent students from being able to read read, I guess. I, that was not only was that unheard of at Brown, it would have just been completely unacceptable.

[Vibrant Student Body]

So I was, I was deeply involved with, you know what I like to believe strongly that an incredible acapella group, yeah, called the Brown Derbies. You know, other people were involved in dance troupes, other people were involved in, you know, language groups, cultural groups, identity groups, there were all sorts of activities. So it was, you know, there, it was a really pretty vibrant student body.

[Advice to Students]

If you look at college, really just as a, you know, as a four year experience that's taking you somewhere else. What is that next step, that next destination? And I think part of the question then becomes, is it that a destination that you're really deeply excited about?

Venkat  3:46  

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast. So without any delay, let's go over to Mike.

Venkat  3:54

Hey, Mike.

Mike M  3:56

Hey, Venkat.

Venkat  3:58

So, welcome to our podcast, College Matters. Alma Matters. Thanks for making the time.

Mike  4:04  

Thanks for having me.

Venkat Raman  4:05  

Absolutely.

So, as we chatted before, we are catering to an audience of aspiring college students, primarily international students, and the main idea is to share college stories and sort of give people a feel for what it's like spending four years at a place like Brown, and hopefully they benefit from that conversation.

So thanks for again, doing this and I think it'll be immensely beneficial.

Mike M  4:40  

Absolutely. Well, I'm excited to be a part of it. And thanks for having me. You know, be involved.

Venkat Raman  4:45  

Cool.

So let's get started. I think what might be a great place to start is with maybe you looking back at the four years at Brown from this vantage point in time now. And what's your overall feelings are and what you feel about the college itself? Looking back.

Mike M  5:10  [“College is a Pretty Strange Time”]

Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, I think the college is a pretty strange time to probably put it a little lightly. You know, it is a, you're you're leaving home for the first time, I think what I underestimated personally, is the degree to which I had spent, not really just high school, but even to a certain degree middle school, thinking that college was really the end destination. You know, that I had worked so hard, I studied so hard I had prepared for all the AP tests I had done the extracurriculars, the sports, the competitions, and then you arrive at college and to a certain degree, I know I certainly experienced that strange feeling of what do I do now.

So it's a I think, and that I think, combined with the fact that you're usually moving to a different part of the country, you've lost your you're away from your friends, you're away from your family, I think the fact that you've simultaneously lost to a certain point, your direction, but also a lot of the familiar touch points that you have in your life really is just what makes college so strange.

You know, I will say, Brown, I think the other thing, which compounds the issue is that it's not just you, everybody is experiencing that exact same element, even though a lot of people seem to come off a lot more confident about it. Yeah.

So, you know, I think the one of the things that was great, and also sometimes terrifying about Brown, is that the breadth and spectrum of the activities and interests and experiences of the other students, I was with were, were so broad and so interesting, and so dynamic that it did, sometimes, I think, elevate those concerns that I had, and, you know, reinforces that sense of imposter syndrome, where you're there, and you're surrounded by just so many brilliant, interesting, well traveled, well read people that, you know, for me, at least is a boy from the Midwest, I just felt very, you know, out of my out of my depth.

Venkat Raman  7:38  

Yeah, that's, that's interesting. It's, it's, it seems like a familiar refrain. And, and so you are right, that it is, it is that everybody's feeling it, except that each person, I think, to some degree does a good job of not showing it.

Venkat Raman  7:58  [Why Brown?]

I think what would be great then is to sort of start with why did you pick Brown? I mean, you were in the Midwest? Why Brown? And maybe just go through that process.

Mike M  8:12  

Yeah, you know, for.

Mike M  8:16  

So I think for me, one of the things that Brown seemed to really be focused on when I visited the school, when I talked with alumni was this idea of, you know, a journey and a[n] area for discovery. You know, there were some of the other schools that I've looked at, which were wonderful and amazing and very impressive, seemed to have much more of a desire that you showed up on day one, and at 17, or 18 years old, you already knew what you want to be doing when you were 40 or 50 years old, right.

I thought one of the things that seemed unique about Brown is they really seem to be focused on this is four unique years of your life, you will likely never have again, take this time, enjoy it, try different things, learn different things. It's one of the beautiful aspects of the open curriculum is they, they say, look, if you know that you don't, you know, you don't care about history. You don't need to take history or if you know that you're not going to try it. It's not important to you to learn another language. Don't worry about that focus in exploring the things that you want to focus and explore.

That was what I really found compelling about Brown.

Venkat Raman  9:32  

Okay, so maybe we can dig a little further back and say, what, what kind of things did you, you said, you mentioned a bunch of things about high school or school in general. So what were some specific interests and what were the kinds of things that you were passionate about?

Mike M  9:51  

Sure, in high school?

Venkat Raman  9:52  

yeah, in high school,

Mike M  9:54  [High School Interests]

You know, and this may sound coming I was pretty involved. In almost everything I could be, you know, I, I was so excited to be able to take advantage of all these different opportunities, I went to a good sized High School. So we were roughly 1000 students a grade, about a 4000 for the high school and total. So it was a big school.

But it also meant that as a result, they were able to support a lot of different activities. So, you know, I mean, I was involved in all of the, you know, a lot, all of the kind of AP classes I did, I was involved in sports, I'm involved in theater and chorus and singing groups. I, you know, if there was a, whenever somebody would allow me, I usually try and pop my head into one of the other clubs. You know, some of the, the, there's an environmental environmentalism club, that I love being a part of a debate club that when they would let me sit in, I try and sit in on I, you know, I, I just had so much fun with it all that I'd like to be involved with as much as I could.

Venkat Raman  11:03  

Hmm. Cool. So, so you were, you know, one of the folks who in school, was interested in a lot of different things.

Mike M  11:10  

Yeah, I was.

Venkat Raman  11:14  

So let's sort of jump to the early or the first days of Brown, and from there down, or from there up. How was that transition from high school to college? I mean, you mentioned a bunch of things in the opening. Maybe we can start with the academics, how was that?

Mike M  11:37  [Adjusting to Brown]

You know, the academics, So the academics, were, were good, where I, you know, what I'd found is that when I shown up, there were all these courses that I wanted to take. And the truth is, there are as much as people told me, look, don't take, I think it was Philosophy, like one on one, wait until the spring because the professor there is amazing. Yeah, I was a little impatient.

And so I kind of I wanted to take that philosophy class. So I remember taking one that just instantly I should have, you know, you have a shopping period of time, then go in, right, you take a class, you realize it's not the right fit, and you should cut bait, I had a lot of tough time, acknowledging that, because I didn't know what the the standards were. right. And then sat through, took a couple courses that really weren't great. Only then to sit in, like, you know, the the spring version of it. Yeah, and realize just how wonderful of a course that really happened.

But at that point, I, in some ways, you know, used up the allotment that I had for my philosophy course, and was now taking something else. Right.

So, you know, it was academically the transition was fine. I think, you know, what I wish I had done was probably to listen to a bit more to the recommendations that people gave, yeah, of which classes to take when, because I was just so excited to try and take courses as soon as I could, that I probably mis-scheduled a little bit upfront.

So now you, Venkat, I don't know if this is jumping too far ahead, but, you know, I was a, I was Premed, all four years. I, I was Premed through me, I completed the pre med requirements.

But I will tell you, you know, what is what was the lesson for me is I didn't love it. But I had been told by a lot of doctors out there that you're not supposed to let these are, you know, they're, they're rough classes, not people don't love BioChem. That said, I remember it wasn't until I was in my It was my very last semester of senior year. And I was in a Biochem class. And this girl sitting in front of me, turned around in the middle of the class. And she looked at me and we were learning about like a protein chain. process. And she looked at me and she went, this is so fascinating. And she turned back around in her chair. And I remember being floored because I didn't know you were supposed to feel that. I thought I thought everyone hated being in that class. And it was the first moment. And it took me essentially four years to get there to realize I was in the wrong room.

So I think that that is that is I think one of the maybe we'll call it perils of some of these college classes is you can be so focused and dedicated. And you can kind of just power your way through these courses, that as much as you know I've said I went to Brown because I knew it was this journey and I was excited to explore you you know you can sometimes I think not realize that even though you're in the course you shouldn't necessarily be in the course.

Venkat Raman  14:50  

So, um, so you didn't major in history. So the question I have is then you were doing pre med and At the same time, you had enough credits for history. Is that what happened? Or were you fascinated with…

Mike M  15:09  

That's exactly right.

Venkat Raman  15:11

Okay. Okay.

Venkat Raman  15:16  

So, um, so let's talk a little bit about your peers, your classmates. How, you know, obviously, you mentioned the caliber of the students. How, was, was it a collaborative environment, competitive? or How did you feel about those people?

Mike M  15:37   [Collaborative Classmates]

It was, in my experience, it was extremely collaborative. You know, I think there was, and I, in many ways, the students that I went to school with prided themselves on being open and willing to help however they could.

I had some friends who went to, you know, other prestigious schools, and especially in the Premed track, which is fairly competitive. There were stories about how the nights before, like a big chemistry test, students at other schools would go out, and they would check out all of the chemistry, chemistry books from the library. Just, right, to prevent students from being able to read, read, I guess, I that was not only was that unheard of at Brown, it would have just been completely unacceptable. In every way, though, the whole point is that you were there you were with students and colleagues, and it was, you know, you're all there to become better and more intelligent and to grow together.

Venkat Raman  16:35  

Right. So that's, that's, you know, Yeah, go ahead.

Mike M  16:40  

No I was just gonna say, so that on an academic, from an academic perspective, again, students there, they were brilliant. Again, I think the smartest people I've ever met in my life, I met there.

On the, on the personal front, their students were incredibly impressive. I remember in my freshman dorm, there was, there was a guy down the hall, who was a Golden Gloves, boxer, there was a girl who would snowboard professionally. There were people from, you know, all over the world who served in, in the military.

It was, you know, and again, I think, in some ways, a standard, broad array of religions and backgrounds and experiences, but everyone was just so sharp and so interesting. And so open. That again, I think, that was what was so striking is finding how much he enjoyed these people who came from such distinct and diverse backgrounds. And were really, you know, there to form a community.

Venkat Raman  17:43  

How is the teaching? How are the professors?

Mike M  17:47  

So the professors were great. You know, one of the values is that there was, so Brown has certain structures in place, with professors that really does encourage essentially professors who want to be teaching students.

There, I am, you know, I'm struggling to think of courses, where teachers really, where teachers had really kind of deferred the class to their TA. I know that that's pretty common, especially in a lot of the entry level science classes, right?

There were, there were certainly a couple of classes with, with TAs. I will tell you actually Venkat for what it matters.

If anything, what stands out is that there were some times where the professors love teaching so much, that they would almost get in their own way. Because they would be so excited to tell you about this new protein about this, the way that this you know, biological structure work, right. And then there would be a TA who would usually afterwards be like, okay, so the professor was really interested in, he loves sharing, and he loves teaching this. For the actual purpose of this exam, maybe focus on this section.

So the again, the professors were great, they love teaching, they were so enthusiastic. And so it was really wonderful. They were there are a couple of those small situations where they may be love teaching too much.

Venkat Raman  19:17  

Okay. That's okay.

[Laughter]

Because it is better than the other way. Right?

Mike M  19:19

It's true.

Venkat Raman  19:26

So let's get out of the classroom and look at the campus life. And maybe we can start with the dorms and sort of work our way through other things.

Mike M  19:37  [Campus Life]

Yeah.

So when, when I went to Brown, my freshman year, my first dorm was this dorm called Perkins. Perkins is, has a bit of a reputation because 99% of the dorms are all within like, you know, the same quarter mile. And then Perkins is way out in the distance. So it's got this great reputation. It's got a very mixed because on the one hand, you know, everybody else is basically rolling in, you know, is rolling into breakfast out of their dorms and like still in their pajamas. For if you are a Perkinite you actually have to suit up, because it was like a trek.

Uh huh, the plus side is that because you had this whole dorm full of students, actually known for creating sort of these uniquely strong relationships. You know, and I've actually it's funny, even thinking about that I was the best man to one guy who lived and one of the guys who lived down the hall for me, I was the best man in his wedding. I have a friend who lived down a floor below, I officiated her wedding.

You know, this really was the basis of these incredible lifelong friendships.

Venkat Raman  21:04  

So what about the campus activities like social and cultural? Will they all dorm based, or for them all over the place?

Mike M  21:17  [The Brown Derbies & Other Campus Activities]

Oh the, I think broadly, the activities were much more interest based. So I was, I was deeply involved with, you know, what I like to believe strongly is an incredible acapella group called the Brown Derbies. You know, other people were involved in dance troupes, other people were involved in, you know, language groups, cultural groups, identity groups, there were all sorts of activities. So it was, you know, there, it was a really pretty vibrant student body.

Venkat Raman  21:50  

So, did you, the Brown Derbies, did you, get, start from the freshman year, or...? Did you do that all four years?

Mike M  21:59  

Well, I did I joined freshman year. Yeah. And then and stuck with it all four years. And those, those became great friends.

Venkat Raman  22:06  

Sure. Sure. So did you go all over the country? Or how did how did that work?

Mike M  22:13  

We, we did. So you know, every year we would we would generally go on a tour.

I think one year it was we did a Las Vegas and Los Angeles trip. One year it was, we did a big trip all across Texas. So we basically started at one end of the state and drove all the way over to the other side.

There were a couple trips that I think that I actually unfortunately missed out on. Because I was actually on other trips. And again, it is a pretty active student body. So I think during one of them, I was traveling on birthright to Israel on a different one. I believe I was down in on the Gulf Coast doing some rebuilding work after Hurricane.

So you know it. So it was a wonderful experience. Now I actually now I believe they actually they started traveling internationally, which sounds like even more fun.

So. You know, but, but unfortunately, I think that is maybe the one of the biggest lessons to take away from college is that all the fun stuff basically happens immediately after you leave? Yeah, of

Venkat Raman  23:24  

Yeah, of course. It's always better in the years to follow.

Now, so, so you mentioned a few other things. So what was this rebuilding and stuff so hard to get involved in those?

Mike M  23:42  

You know, so one of the things that is, I think, notable about Brown is they have what's called the Main Green, and a lot of schools have this, but for some reason, I think at Brown, it really is sort of this central point. And bronze a bit. You know, it's a it's not the largest of schools, it's about I think 5000 in enrollment. So in general, it means that it's, you know, it's not like a state school where you have giant quad, right? Sometimes you pass through, right, it is something you generally tend to walk through multiple times.

Students will set up tables as they often do, and you know, so there might be somebody trying to organize a trip to a country, they might be trying to get people to sign up for something political issue. They might just be doing a bake sale.

So I, you know, I'll be honest, it was a while back. So my general recollection is that I had a friend who was out there and kind of flagged me down and said we're going to go organize a trip to help do some rebuild, work with Habitat for Humanity. And I signed up and it was, you know, it was really rewarding.

So yeah, but, but that was I will say the type of activity for you know, having gone on that one trip, there were probably 100 other chips that I didn't go on, because there was something else. Sure tons of opportunities that were great.

Venkat Raman  25:11  

Anything else on the, on the campus side that was worth highlighting?

Mike M  25:18  

You know, there again,

Mike M  25:20  

it is I've heard that Brown actually has a higher involvement percentage in Student Activities than than average. I think in acapella alone. I only know this because I'm clearly a bit of a nerd there is I think it's, it's something like, I think when I was there, something like 12 or 13 different groups, it had the highest acapella to student ratio in the country.

But there were so many activities, there were extracurriculars, there was the sports teams, I know had this this wonderfully, you know, rich social world, there was fraternities, there were groups, I was actually that I was the president of the fraternity. You know, there really were so many different opportunities.

And that was really only if you wanted to engage, kind of with the social groups that were cast structured through the university, there are all sorts of people who are doing incredibly cool research and working jobs.

You know, I had, I was friends with one guy who was working on a bunch of, he could never tell me anything about it. But it was a bunch of research that involved I believe it was, it was water on Mars. Wow. that was that was sort of what he was researching, and every now and then come back and be like, today was exciting. I can't tell you anything else other than that.

And then I had other friends who would, you know, take the train over to Boston. Because it's an easy, quick, quick training. Yeah. And he'd worked for some finance companies, their people, you know, New York was not that far away. So they're, they're really people had, a what was so often again, so exciting and interesting, and also often intimidating was just how varied the interests were of so many of the students.

Venkat Raman  27:11  

Yeah, well, they did find some water on Mars. So your friend should be happy.

Venkat Raman  27:19

I think, um, let's sort of talk a little bit about the summers, the four summers or three summers? How, How'd you end up spending those?

Mike M  27:31  [Diverse Summer Pursuits]

So they were, they were interesting that, you know, for, for me, since I was Premed, a lot of it was focused on research.

I spent one summer interning at an emergency room. This was actually at a Cook County Hospital in Chicago. I spent another one doing research for, for at a, at a dermatology practice up in Chicago. There was you know, the great thing is there also some opportunities there is, you know, when I, early on, oftentimes what will happen is the first year or two is much more of a job type internship. Right, right. And then, right later, more pre professional, right. So you know, one of them, but there's, there are great opportunities to explore.

So I spent one summer clerking for a judge there is one summer that FBI, I'd studied abroad in Spain. Okay. And so I actually was spent a large portion of the summer backpacking across Europe, in between, basically, when my internship, my study abroad period ended. And strangely enough, there was a wedding I needed to go to and Macedonia.

So basically spent a good portion of the summer, just backpacking from Spain over to Macedonia.

Venkat Raman  28:54  

Wow. So, so when you do, in the, say, the emergency room, I mean, so you weren't actually allowed into the operating theatres or were you? Were you part of the team?

Mike M  29:11  

You know, correct. I mean, I, you know, I was 19 years old, right? They weren't gonna let me exactly. Yeah.

Ya know, a lot of the work generally it was, you know, I mean, it's it's intern work and by intern, not the medical intern Yeah, truly intern. So, you know, you're going in it's, it's generally you're helping to organize things, you're dealing with a couple small projects, they have, you know, you’re a lot of times it's in some ways the general grunt work as like a volunteer.

Yeah. So you know, but it was a way and then oftentimes what would happen is you'd be able to one of the physicians would pull you to the side and you get to ask them questions, or they kind of let you shadow them as they go talk to some patients and you just get a better sense of what that of what that type of profession was was really like.

Venkat Raman  30:02  

So I take it you didn't like it that much, or was that not so?

Mike M  30:09  

You know, there was I and I hate to say it, but again, it came down to the that one girl in biochem, senior year, who just, you know, as much as I admired and liked the field and the work, yeah, at the end of the day, the actual material that you have to be focused on, which is very much it's very much science, it's very much, you know, there can, you know, it's some of it is elements of chemistry of biology, right. It was fine to me, I didn't love it. And I thought that, again, I just thought that that was how everyone felt, but you liked interacting with people or you liked dealing with problems, or, you know, and I think when I realized that there were ways to still solve problems and work with people that didn't require, you know, working in the bio sciences, that was sort of a big change for me. And again, part of it too Venkat, not to put too big a point around it, there are just, there are people who love Yeah, of course, their field, of course, of course.

And, yes, that was a flag to me.

Venkat Raman  31:22  

Yeah. I mean, you know, it's very hard to compete with people who love those things. Because, you know, there's only so much you know, that extra oomph that you need, or the X-factor that you need, is what puts you over the top, and that, if you're missing them, it's very hard to compete.

Mike M  31:39  

And I think that's a great point, right? Yeah, it is. There's that element. Not only is it hard to compete with people when they love the field, but when you find a field that you love, yeah, in many ways, it's very hard for people to compete with you.

Venkat Raman  31:53  

Right. Exactly. Exactly. So yeah, I mean, the trick is finding that you know, and that's the challenge.

Venkat Raman  32:00  [Film Production Bug]

So how did this...Where did this interest in film and film production coming out of that?

Mike M  32:10  

Absolutely.

So what happened is, I had, you know, I graduated college, I completed my Premed requirements, and I just actually studied and taken the MCAT, which is, of course, the test, you need to get into medical school, and I did well on it, yeah. But I was I had, again, I was I had been, I was pretty miserable studying for it. And I finished and I just had hit a point where I thought, you know what, if I keep doing this, it will likely only mean that it's going to be four more years of medical school, where I will be miserable. And then, you know, four to seven more years of residency, where there's a good chance I will also be miserable. And then worst case is now I'm somewhere like 13, 11 years, 11 years down the line, right? And I may very well find out that I'm still miserable, right? And that would be unfortunate.

So while I took some time, trying to figure out what I want to apply or not to medical school, I actually happened to, through just the strangest of coincidences, find out about a documentary that was being shot nearby. And I was back home in Chicago at this point.

And so I somewhat naively showed up, introduced myself and asked if I could help. And they gave me a you know, I think the appropriate look when a stranger shows up out of nowhere, and

[Laughter]

ask you if you can be involved with your job.

Mike M  33:39  

So, so I somehow, they said Well, if you really want you can grab that bag, and carry it over here, when we moved to kind of our next location, which I did with all of the enthusiasm that I could, you know, and excitement of somebody who has never been involved with a documentary before, right.

So I ended up helping them with this over a period of a few weeks. You know, and I think every day they would break down and I'd help them break down their shot their shoot. And they say, Well, if you want, you know, we're going to start back here at this place tomorrow at 7am or 8am, or whatever time it was, and I'm sure they expect I was never going to show up again. Yeah.

And I was and they would sort of be amused and surprised that I showed up and we'd go through another full day of shooting and you know, next day they say, Well, if you if you want you can show up and this went on for four weeks.

And eventually they finally had finished shooting and they were all going down to Tennessee to, do, to edit the show to edit this film, and they said well, if you want we're going down to Tennessee, you can show up you can crash on somebody's couch. Yeah, and help and of course I had no editing experience because I hadn't done this right.

But I, I showed up. And, you know, I learned how to edit the I learned how they kind of had, we're approaching the construction of a documentary of how they kind of looked at this storytelling. Yeah. And when it was all over, it was I just had had so much more fun than I realized I was that girl in the biochem class, I was so excited by what anybody else would think was so mundane.

Yeah. And that at least, so I ended up coming back to Chicago and I went door to door at different production companies in Chicago. And eventually, it was able to talk my way into the place where they let me again have start sweeping the floors. And then ultimately, I moved my way up to being a producer and studio director.

Venkat Raman  35:57  

Fabulous. So, so, how many years is this after graduating?

Mike M  36:02  

That was I mean, that was really basically right after graduating, right.

Venkat Raman  36:09  

So okay, so, I think this is very interesting, because, you know, you were looking, as they say, looking in all the wrong places, till you ended up looking at the right place!

Venkat Raman  36:22  [Back to the Future - to Brown!]

So given that, if you were to go back to Brown or if you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

Mike M  36:32  

How would you well, so I will tell you, I mean it again. And maybe it was poor time. I'm, I'm sure it was poor timing on my part.

But in that, that last semester of senior year, it was not only this semester, where I heard, where I sat in front of behind that girl who said, you know, yeah, this biochem is fascinating. And I realized I didn't belong. But it was also the semester when I sat in on what we called ENGN 90, I think they've changed it to be ENGN 900. But it was a essentially an entrepreneurship course, that was tucked away into their engineering school.

And again, this was one of those classes that everyone said, you have to take it, it's amazing, the professor's fantastic. I, somewhat foolishly, I could have either taken it my very first semester, or my very last semester, I unfortunately chose to take it my last semester. And it was one of those courses where every single day, I would come back and be amazed and excited. And I would turn to my roommates and say, Did you know that you can project out cash flows? Yes, you do. And it's not that exciting. You know, you can add an interest payments to know exactly what your balance is going to be and then go Yes, we do. And again, you're far too excited about this.

And so that was but that ended up sort of being this little flag, because then when I ended up working at the production studio, as much as I thought I would be interested in the creative part of that business, it was really actually the business side of it. That was so exciting. For me, it was less about what is the, you know, what is the narrative of this shoot? What is the storyline? Or how are we casting, even though it was very fun to be involved with all that, for me, I found myself far more interested in, you know, did this production actually make money for us? Did we spend too much should we change the way that we're sourcing our, our freelance talent, and that ended up sending me down this course to ultimately go work at a startup, to apply to business school, and then to ultimately come work in the field that I work in today, which is very much business development and strategy.

Venkat Raman  38:51  

Now, it's, it's a, it's really interesting. By the way, if there any accountants listening in on this show, might get a few calls.

[Laughter]

Cool. No, that's, that's really, and it's really a very interesting, not just a story, but it's a very interesting way that ended up you know, you ended up making a decision, but it, you know, you had, it had to basically be at the right time, and the timing is everything and all these things, and maybe you could have done something differently, but maybe it wouldn't have clicked when you were 18, what clicked later on the age of 22. So, you never know.

Venkat Raman  39:35  [Advice to Students: Convey Excitement]

Based on all this experience and understanding and insights, what would you tell an aspiring student today who's applying to college, basically, and maybe, you know, if they’re aspiring to go to Brown?

Mike M  39:51  

Absolutely. You know, I think it's, it's tricky, right?

I think to a certain degree. I remember being you know, 17 I'm so excited to go to college, but it felt like the destination. Right? So I think what's tricky is, in some ways trying to understand, if you look at college really just as a, you know, as a four year experience that's taking you somewhere else. What is that next step, that next destination? And I think part of the question then becomes, is it that a destination that you're really deeply excited about? Right?

I remember, there's, there are points where, because I was involved in theater, I thought maybe I'd go into, to kind of more acting, but I didn't, there was always sort of a hesitation about it from kind of a lifestyle perspective. Yeah. You know, certainly there was a big part of me that was continued to be kind of dedicated to this idea of medicine. And, but there was also that was something that I thought I could do that I was,

I was sort of positive about, but not enthusiastic about.

So I think to the degree that anybody, student was looking at college can look and try and see, here's where I really would be excited to end up, even if it's still broad. This is how I see college really helping me get there.

And again, you know, that may be that it is the journey to explore that may be that it is a very specific curriculum, or professor or research opportunity that you can access by going to that school.

And then I think being able to still have that opportunity to take advantage of that time to say, look, here, here are the specific courses that I would love to take my freshman year to help either confirm, or reject this hypothesis, essentially, I have about what I want to do and what I want to be.

Venkat Raman  41:54  

You know, I always wonder, there are obviously two classes of students, right? one that seem to be so certain and so definite about what they want to do, and so clear. And there are others who are just exploring and sort of, you know, feel like they will never make a decision, right?

And the reality is that both things, you know, by definition converge, because they have to, I mean, they can find something that they have to do now, whether it is the right thing or not, is a different question.

Now, So I think I think there's, as long as the college allows you to explore, and, like you said, try out options and be able to get, you know, test out either a hypothesis, or it might be going in cold, I mean, it, you might even know nothing about it, It's like, you know, going to a movie that you've heard nothing about and coming out, saying, Wow, that was awesome, you know, rather than going in thinking this is the greatest movie and, you know, being led down, right? So it's, it's there's a, there's a certain amount of excitement to the adventure and the mystery, as well, which, you know, you don't want to play too much of that on the education side. But, but I think I think there's something to that. And as long as there are ways to navigate, and the student is able to navigate those four years to make that And plus, of course, what they do in the summers and on campus and different clubs, and who knows where the connections are made, that allow them to sort of go to the next station in life. So no, I think you know...

Mike M  43:38  

...and I just would add, you know, I think I recall, feeling very self conscious, again, because you're surrounded by so many people who are so, so smart. And they bring such a different background that even though they're probably equally as intimidated by your background, right, because they don't know any of the things, you know, they're sometimes there's this, this element of holding your cards a little close to your chest, right? And not asking.

And one thing I would have loved to have done was earlier on just turned to people whose parents worked in different fields, or who were interested in different things and really tried to actually sit down and understand what those fields were and why they were interesting.

Consulting, for instance, which was a pretty common field for people to go into was something that he not until I graduated, did I even understand what it was, you know, just it was something I heard about. It was a word and I couldn't conceive beyond that.

I think most things in finance, I didn't come from a family that had experience with finance didn't really mean anything to me. It all just seemed sort of broad. You walk around in a suit and something But I don't know, maybe your, you trade pork futures or something? Yeah. And that was I think those are opportunities that I wish I had spent a little bit more time understanding, because I think just that that very informal peer network could often probably have provided a lot more insight than I was comfortable necessarily asking for.

Venkat Raman  45:24

True. True.

Venkat Raman  45:31  

Okay, so um, before we kinda wind down here, want to give you a chance to sort of talk about anything that you think would be pertinent, relevant, or plain interesting, or even if it is not relevant, but interesting about Brown that you'd like to share?

Mike M  45:51  [Memories: Being on Brown Campus]

You know, there is a friend of mine used to say that one of the things that's so strange is education, is already in the midst of this pretty big change. You know, you you're seeing all these questions arise about, you know, what is the value of a college education? What is the value of a college education that, truthfully is really quite expensive, right?

And, and I remember having a friend kind of respond to that and said, Well, you know, what, Harvard has a digital curriculum. It, it is fractional, inexpensive, you can just sign up for that. If you could do it over again, when you just sign up for that. And I remember my buddy kind of laughed and acknowledged like that. It's not the same thing. Yeah, yeah.

And I think in many ways, that's that's sort of the very difficult the, it's difficult to articulate sort of that value of just being on campus, of, you know, we used to, when you could sit on the main green, there'd be points when you'd be walking kind of through through the campus late at night, coming back from the library.

And there are just moments that you'd see somebody or you'd come back from, like a show or a performance. And you'd all go to one of the cafeterias and you'd get what was called a spicy with, which is the spicy chicken sandwich with cheese, which is delicious. And, like, fantastic at one in the morning. Oh, yeah.

And they're just those experiences were, which I think are so hard to replicate. But they inform you so much. And they're these windows sometimes where you end up having super interesting conversations with people or you gained start learning aspects about them, or you learn about their lives, or their histories or their experiences, in ways that you wouldn't have done in another context that I think end up really bring become the value of, of that entire time.

And in many ways, unfortunately, I think it becomes things you remember, far more than that Philosophy 101 course. You know, you probably shouldn't have signed up for.

Venkat Raman  48:03  

Exactly. Um, well, that is the truth, I think. No, at the end of the day, I think college is about people and about the people you meet. And obviously, you learn a lot of from them. And obviously, the professors and the classes are part of it. But it's the holistic experience, as they say so.

So fantastic. This Mike has been phenomenal conversation, really enjoyed it. I hope our listeners do and I'm sure they'll find it extremely beneficial as they try to figure out how to spend the four years in college and maybe the one to pick and then hopefully, they won't take that Philosophy 101 class that's in the first semester.

Okay, thanks a lot, Mike. Appreciate the time, you've been extremely generous and hope to talk to you more about these things. But for now, thanks and take care. No, thank you.

Mike M  49:06  

No,  thank you. It was a pleasure talking. You know, this was this was a delight.

Venkat Raman  49:10  

Thank you. Take care. Bye.

Venkat  49:12

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Mike Mochizuki.

Mike’s college journey was an experiment, testing out various hypotheses about what subject was right for him.

While he could have easily pursued a career in medicine, he rejected that option because he didn’t love it enough.

I hope this exciting experience pushes you to check Brown out further.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io].

Thank you so much for listening to our podcast today.

Many thanks to the Counseling firm Admissionado for introducing me to today’s guest, Mike Mochizuki.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

Summary Keywords

US Colleges, College Admissions, University of Pittsburgh, Pitt, Study Abroad, India, China, Extracurricular, International Students, Model UN, Common Application, Common App, College Essays, Innovation, Gig Economy, Thesis, Capstone, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Business Development, Dubai, Singapore, Grab, Ride-Sharing.


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