Coming in as a junior transfer to Haas, I did not know what to expect at all in the prestigious business school. The application process itself was already excruciating, so thinking about my first semester gave me mixed emotions. On one hand, I was happy and proud to have been admitted into Haas. While on the other, anxious and scared. If getting into the program was as difficult as it is, I wondered with nervous trepidation how actually being Haas was going to be like.
Since I began my academic journey in the United States, Haas has been my biggest educational goal and dream. And now that it’s right in my fingertips, I was afraid I might make some careless mistake and let it slip away. Fears of failing and being inadequate would preoccupy my mind. Thankfully, my worries slowly withered away when I attended the Annual Haas Career Conference last Wednesday, August 22nd.
The event began with a few words of welcome from the Cal Career Center director, Tom Devlin, Haas Undergraduate Program executive director, Erika Walker, and executive director of Center for Financial Reporting/Management, Maria Nondorf. They talked briefly about what was going on in Haas. We were given a sneak peek into the Career Center’s new facility for when it moves to the campus’s Lower Sproul area later in the semester. Photos of its state-of-the-art reception lobby, multipurpose conference and interview rooms, career counseling areas, and internship workshop spaces were projected proudly on the Andersen Auditorium screen. The goal was to attract prospective employers and open more pavements for on-campus recruitment, as well as avenues for students to build on shared interests. This assured me that I was in good hands, and that Haas had our best interests at heart.
The Career Conference also invited alumni speaker, Aaron Mendelson M.B.A. 2002, to share his experience before and after Haas. Mendelson emphasized on the need of defining ourselves as individuals and make the most out of our residence in the school. He strongly encouraged us to explore other hobbies and passions in addition to our majors, because it is only during our time as students that we get to be immersed in books and courses about diverse interests, and in an environment so conducive to learning.
Mendelson also mentioned the importance of the four defining principles, and how they carry on even after graduation. One, which he strongly practices to this day, is “Beyond Yourself”. He currently serves as president of the Haas Alumni Network’s (HAN) San Francisco Chapter, and has been on the Board of the Cal Alumni Association (CAA) since 2008. Through both platforms, he was able to give back to the Haas community by granting scholarships like the CAA Leadership Award and HULA (HAN-SF Undergraduate Leadership Award) to deserving students.
Vision, the intention to implement that vision, and stewardship are three major criteria to HAN-SF’s selection process. His short message relieved me. It made me realize what I briefly forgot due to my anxiety about venturing into Haas and the unfamiliar Berkeley grounds. The reason I wanted to go to Haas above all other schools in addition to its myriad resources, tremendous opportunities, and large network was the core values that Haas strongly instills in their students. As Haas, we are not only to be excellent and exceptional in our respective industries, but also leaders with a heart.
Our interaction with various business professionals through the recruiting panels later that day further reinforced this truth. There were four fields that conference attendees could choose from: (1) Accounting, (2) Banking/Finance, (3) Consulting, and (4) Marketing & Management. I went to the Finance and Management forums. Although both are different branches to a business, the panelists provided almost similar advice to landing an internship and succeeding in the workplace. While a great GPA and technical skills are severely essential to being a competitive applicant, passion and drive are what will make recruiters remember you. After all, we only have about 30 to 45 minutes to leave a pleasant and lasting impression in interviews.
Some characteristics that kept resurfacing throughout the sessions were:
- Great drive, competition, and initiative (attend information meetings for companies you are interested in working for)
- Enthusiasm and maturity (be professional!)
- Ask inquisitive questions (show interest and determination)
- Confidence, but humility to adapt oneself
- Detail-oriented (observant and analytical)
- People-person, ability to work in teams (know how to communicate)
- Be teachable (there’s always something to learn)
- Leadership through experience (does not necessarily have to be business-related)
While it’s only been a week since the Career Conference, the experience has drastically changed my perception of this new Haas world. There’s still evidently a lot of lessons and preparation that I have to learn and make. However, attending the conference as a kick off to my residence in Haas was definitely a decision well made. It gave me a kind of outline as to what qualities I should have developed or experiences achieved in order to at least reach that level of competitiveness. I no longer feel too uneasy or insecure, because I know that no matter what struggles I might come across, I’ll have the Haas Undergraduate Program Staff, as well as other great resources on campus that I can count on to guide me through.
I look forward to my first semester at Haas. I hope all you juniors are too! Good luck and Go Bears!
Class of 2014