The other day I gave someone directions to Wheeler Hall and as I did, I couldn’t help but realize that I had made the leap from the fresh transfer student that needed directions myself, to the Cal student who I asked for directions a few months back in a panicked rush, who had told me: “Wheeler’s just down that hill to the right.” It felt good to help her out and made me think back on all the help I’ve received along the way to Berkeley. There have been many teachers, family members, and peers who have helped me get here, and I will always be eternally grateful even if they never even know how much so. But for this article, I thought I would focus on a few of the places and services on campus that have really helped guide me now that I’m at Cal. For those students who may still be struggling with the adjustment, or just have a question about what path they should take, maybe these resources can help you like they helped me.
Alright, so I know no one likes “going to the office” – OK, well I guess no one likes being sent to the office. But actually, one of the quickest resources I’ve found to get my questions answered has been the Haas Undergrad Program Office in S450. When I had questions about a minor I was interested in, they were very helpful and got all my questions answered in a few minutes. When I had another question about studying abroad, I met with the adviser the same day who told me what I needed to do to stay on track for an EAP program. Every time I go in there with a question I walk out with an answer or knowing where to go to get one. And everyone is very nice and really there for you with whatever you need. They even have some sweets, another reason to visit.
Another fantastic source is the Alumni Network. We’re lucky enough at Haas to have access to this as students and it’s a great way to put your ideas out there and get some feedback by members of the Haas family that have traveled down a similar path. The caliber of our students is only rivaled by the extraordinary talent and accomplishments of our alumni and having access to them before we graduate is a HUGE advantage we get over non-Haas students. Take a look at the many different ways they can help you at: http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/groups/alumni/ Reach out to our alumni, they’ve been in our shoes before!
The new Career Center is also a great asset to have. With a full-time dedicated staff, they can help you make your resume stronger as well as preparing you to get the internships or jobs you’re looking for through mock interviews. There’s no worse feeling then being in an interview and not knowing how to make yourself stand out from the other candidates, or worse, freezing up when asked a tough question. I mean, how do you answer the infamous: “If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be?” Don’t be that person who answers: “Oh well I’m a perfectionist” or “I can’t really think of anything!” The people at the Career Center can help you prepare for those and other zingers interviewers sometimes like to throw at you. They can also help you develop an idea of your strong points and how you can find ways to bring them up during an interview, because they don’t always come across on the resume so sometimes the interview is your only chance to show the interviewer(s) what distinguishes you from the rest.
And perhaps some of the best people you can talk to are the recruiters and interviewers that will ultimately hire you themselves. I was lucky enough to make it to a speaker series hosted by the Undergraduate Marketing Association in which two Disney recruiters came out and let us know what options they have for internships, where to go, and how to make yourself as attractive of a candidate as you can. Additionally, they stayed and advised people on their resumes until the building closed. Much needed in depth, blunt advice, on what they look for, thereby helping differentiate you from the rest of the pile of applicants.
As Haas students, we only have 4 semesters to maximize and sometimes it can be tough to find time to participate in anything other than homework. In the scramble to finish at the top academically, some people may miss out on other options they have to distinguish themselves: extracurricular activities, volunteer work, internships, and study abroad programs. If you want more information about any of these, I can’t recommend higher utilizing the resources I’ve listed above. They are definitely there to help!