The Berkeley Group (TBG) is one of Berkeley’s student organizations that offers pro-bono consulting services for non-profits and social enterprises in the Bay Area. TBG aims to help create a better world while encouraging its member to grow professionally and personally through hands-on experience on high-impact projects.
Josephine Kao, a current TBGer, reflects about her experiences. Here is what she shared about TBG:
Before I joined TBG, I looked upon the club with an odd blend of aspiration, curiosity, and reverence. I attended an info session and scrolled through its website to try and gain a sense for TBG’s core qualities, but didn’t truly arrive at an understanding beyond the slick navy blue logo and the phrase “pro-bono consulting for non-profits” until I went through two semesters of meaningful work and relationship building in the club.
In two semesters of consulting for TBG, I was graced with the opportunity to work on a corporate sponsorship strategy for the urban, classy arts organization SFJAZZ and a marketing project for the passionate and more homegrown Aspire Education. By engaging with two very different clients, I gained exposure to everything from the shiny corporate realm to the specific struggles of local non-profits. Though I enjoyed the experience of interviewing key stakeholders, crunching numbers, and engaging in rapid discussions with my teammates, the beauty of each project was not simply the work itself. As I learned about Bay Area industries and communities, I also developed a passion for others’ stories and dreams. SFJAZZ helped shape my views of the human capacity for expression through music and art. Working for Aspire reaffirmed my personal commitment to furthering equitable, high quality education for students from all backgrounds.
This type of personal growth has stemmed not only from my project experiences, but from the relationships I have built in TBG. We are bound together by more than a mutual interest in consulting or business (in fact, the club is known to have a good deal of non-business majors, ranging from Media Studies to MCB), but rather, a commitment to causes outside of ourselves. Some of my fondest memories include cooking a meal for Project Open Hand and volunteering to teach a financial literacy class for students in Oakland with friends and alumni from TBG. Over many ice cream, coffee, and foodie outings, I realized that these people were not just “my TBG friends”, but genuinely concerned peers and mentors. I have become confident in expressing myself on things related and unrelated to TBG: my faith and my future, my highs and my lows.
Digging deep into the club’s familial culture, resources, and network helped me to sift through preconceived notions of “legitness” and pre-professional buzzwords throughout my first year at Cal. As a result, I have developed a strong grasp for both TBG’s mission and my personal trajectory in college. The personal impact I have encountered from aligning myself with a social impact oriented community is more than I could have asked for. I have realized that the very essence of the TBG experience is not meant to be self-elevating, but empowering to selflessly driven communities—both in and outside the club.
Josephine Kao is a sophomore at Cal majoring in English and Economics. She has been a member of The Berkeley Group since Fall 2013 of her freshman year, when her backpack was too large for her. Outside of TBG, she works for Student Affairs-Information Technology as a Residential Computing Consultant and is involved in Klesis, a Christian fellowship on campus. When she’s not drinking coffee or scribbling down random things in her small notebook, she enjoys playing the harp and exploring the Bay Area with friends.