The UC Berkeley Trilemma

We experience this problem every day on campus as UC Berkeley students. Regardless of our major, it is there— staring us in the face. Every day, we make conscious, and sometimes unconscious, decisions about how we go about-facing this problem. Some even claim that this problem is nearly impossible to not only avoid, but also to solve. But I am here to successfully tell you that there is a way to solve this problem.

My name is Monica Diliberto and I am a 4th year studying Business Administration at the Walter A. Haas School of Business. I came to UC Berkeley as a transfer student from a community college in the greater Bay Area in Fall 2013 and am sad to see that my journey at UC Berkeley is almost over. During my time at Haas, I have not only made some of my greatest friends and immersed myself in fantastic clubs/programs on campus, but I have also had the opportunity to develop myself as a future business leader in the retail industry. Amidst the craziness I experienced during my first semester on campus in Fall 2013, I was able to attain an internship at Macy’s in their Store Management Development Program and successfully completed the program just this past summer of 2014.

This photo was taken, with my mentor, after I completed the Macy's Store Management Development Program Internship this summer 2014.  On a side note, my mentor is a fellow CAL Alumni!!! From left to right: Paige Tamada and Monica Diliberto.
This photo was taken, with my mentor, after I completed the Macy’s Store Management Development Program Internship this summer 2014. On a side note, my mentor is a fellow CAL Alumni!!! From left to right: Paige Tamada and Monica Diliberto.

When I am not busy with schoolwork or trying to get a full time offer (like most of us are doing right about now), I am on the Executive Board of FAST (Fashion and Student Trends)— a student run organization which hosts bi-annual fashion shows that showcase the talents of our student-models and student-designers on campus. I am the Shattuck Cohort Leader for the Class of 2015’s Haas Cohort Program, I teach a Retailing DeCal on campus, and I also blog for the Haas Undergraduate’s Blog. Oh, and did I mention that I actually get a decent amount of sleep, have good grades and have a pretty great social life too? Yes, you heard me correctly—it is possible to have it all at UC Berkeley (and not suffer too much).

There exists this problem that we each face every day of our lives on campus and it is known as the UC Berkeley Trilemma. Here at school, you are given three incredibly great opportunities: to have a great social life, get good grades or get a decent amount of sleep. For those of us who are student-athletes, they must also consider their performance in their sport as part of this decision pie. However (and here’s the catch), there is this stigma that you can only have two out of the three of those things. It is a difficult decision to make; however, we all make this decision every day as a student here at UC Berkeley.

Most of us will gravitate towards having great grades and a social life and, as a result, we suffer from sleep deprivation. Our reasoning for this choice is that we are only given 4 years at this prestigious school, so we might as well make the most of this opportunity. More plainly put, you only live once. For those of us who like to let the die-hard “nerd” in ourselves take charge in our lives, we will opt for great grades and a decent amount of sleep. There are eons of time to make those best friends at my fabulous full-time job and let’s all be honest: we only befriend other students in class so that we can share notes if we decide to catch up on more sleep.

Regardless of which two you decide to choose and your reasoning behind your choices, I am here to tell you that you actually can have all 3 components of this Trilemma. Coming in as a Transfer Student, I knew that I only had 2 years to not only get that CAL experience, but to also make friends, join clubs, do well in school, get a full-time offer, and not regret one second of anything. My time crunch definitely pushed me to try say yes to every opportunity that was given to me, which sometimes led to a bust, but I allowed myself to go out of my comfort zone and ended up with having a great social life, great grades, and the ability to get enough sleep. After all, if you could have it all, wouldn’t you want it all?

The Cohort Program attends a Comedy Show in Oakland.  From left to right: Juliana Kim, Monica Diliberto, Jessica Li, Bryan Moore, Lyall Behrens, Subha Rengarajan, Stacey Patten, Corde Snell, Rafy Choi, Eric Golden and Jessica Yi.
The Cohort Program attends a Comedy Show in Oakland. From left to right: Juliana Kim, Monica Diliberto, Jessica Li, Bryan Moore, Lyall Behrens, Subha Rengarajan, Stacey Patten, Corde Snell, Rafy Choi, Eric Golden and Jessica Yi.

After reflecting over this past academic year at CAL, I have come up with some tips on how you can overcome this UC Berkeley Trilemma:

1. Work/school-life balance. I cannot emphasize this enough! If you can learn to master this during your time at UC Berkeley, you will not only be excellent at time management and efficiency in school, but you will also succeed immensely when you start working full-time post-grad.

My Production and Operations Management final project group.  They were all international graduate students from Sweden! From left to right: Johannes Hultling, Monica Diliberto, Behrang Abbassi, Sofia Toft and Henrik Berg.
My Production and Operations Management final project group. From left to right: Johannes Hultling, Monica Diliberto, Behrang Abbassi, Sofia Toft and Henrik Berg.

2. Put yourself out there. We all “say” we will go out to those club events or promise our friends that we will go those mixers, but actually go! Even if it is not your normal scene or you don’t know anyone going to this event, I promise you, it is better to say you went than not go at all. And even if it is a total bust, at least you will have a great story to tell your friends or kids someday. “So kids, back in my day when I was at CAL…”

Representing that blue and gold at the CAL vs. Colorado Football Game at Memorial Stadium (9/27/14).
Representing that blue and gold at the CAL vs. Colorado Football Game at Memorial Stadium (9/27/14).

3. Remember, it IS socially acceptable to stay in on a Friday night to study. I know that we all feel pressured to go out to those tempting frat parties or Pappy’s, but it is not the end of the world if you don’t go out this weekend. Those frats and bars are not going anywhere. Plan to have a date night with Moffit or Main Stacks every so often.

4. I am not insinuating anything, but hit the gym! Working out gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Make the effort to either go to the RSF or get some physical activity at least 3-5 times per week. Not only will you stay happy and healthy, but also it is a great break from your busy life and you will be able to focus more once you get back to the books. Don’t be intimidated by those tough guys lifting heavy weights—I promise, they are nice enough.

My latest hike up to the Big C on a beautiful Saturday morning.  From left to right: Brian Yandell and Monica Diliberto.
My latest hike up to the Big C on a beautiful Saturday morning. From left to right: Brian Yandell and Monica Diliberto.

5. Have designated “me” time. Take yourself on a date to your favorite coffee shop/restaurant, enjoy a hike on the Fire Trails, watch the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy in one sitting—whatever it is, invest time in yourself. It is easy to get caught up in the UC Berkeley stress-stupor and sometimes we can lose ourselves in the midst of midterms. Just remember that college is about finding yourself and figuring out who you want to be. If you are so caught up in classes, with your professors and with how recruiters will view you, how will you ever be able to realize what your true potential is? Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture and always think of “me” time as a long-term investment for success.

The Men's Gymnastics Team helps me find my seat at the CAL vs. Colorado Football Game on Saturday, September 27, 2014.  From left to right: Kevin Wolting, Monica Diliberto and Michael Diliberto.
The Men’s Gymnastics Team helps me find my seat at the CAL vs. Colorado Football Game on Saturday, September 27, 2014. From left to right: Kevin Wolting, Monica Diliberto and Michael Diliberto.

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