Written by Josh Wang, Haas UG Blog Writer
Recruiting is one of the defining experiences that every Haas student has to endure. And while there is plenty of advice on how to recruit successfully, none of it addresses our personal lives. How do we successfully and effectively manage our mental and physical health, stress, and relationships?
I admit that I did not handle these things well. In the months that I spent networking and interviewing for my junior summer internship, I stopped exercising altogether, and picked up a habit of eating incredible amounts of greasy fast food. My weight ballooned, and the massive, but more importantly, uncontained stress put a strain not only on my happiness, but also on the happiness of people around me. I stopped going out with my friends, I stopped seeing my family and spending time with my younger brother, and most of all, I stopped caring about happiness altogether. I always told myself that after I got a job, I could find it again.
Yet the truth is, even as a senior who is finally done with recruiting, it has been a slow and painstaking process to return to the old Josh. I look back on my junior year, and although I found a great job and enjoyed my summer internship, I regret the lost time that I spent stressing about insignificant things and over-preparing for info sessions or interviews. I’ve had to rediscover my interests and hobbies. I’ve begun reaching out to people that I had neglected to catch up and hopefully become part of their lives again.
So, for all juniors and seniors still at the recruiting grind, here are three principles that I have realized over the last year. I hope that you’ll at the very least be open-minded to them, and at most, be shaped by them.
- Do not pay for your career or academic success with your happiness.
You go to Berkeley. Academic success is ingrained in your blood. Missing a final is a nightmare that you’ve woken up from. Similarly, you are pressured by your peers, professors, and even Haas to find a prestigious career. The tagline that adorns every webpage: “Our students go on to great firms such as Goldman Sachs, Bain, and Google,” fills you with dread as you wonder if you’ve failed for not working at those places.
And as a Berkeley student, despite having midterms on your plate, despite having family or financial issues that eat away at your mental capacity, you’re still going to bust your ass to get a great job. That’s great. My point isn’t that you should give up your ambition.
But instead of giving up your happiness, give effort and dedication when you need to. For the other times, don’t forget to unwind with your friends. Don’t opt out of your hobbies, whether they are dancing, hiking, trying new foods, or binge-watching Netflix shows.
Don’t overthink emails, or let the stress of waiting on an email back from HR ruin a night out with your boyfriend or girlfriend. I can’t tell you how many times I had dinner with my bMail, with my girlfriend as a third wheel.
Continue to do things that make you happy, because your job or internship, by itself, will not.
Make weekend plans. Smile when you wake up. That smile is going to emanate in your next interview and set you apart from all the other Haas zombies you’re competing with.
- Your relationships are the most important thing that you have.
Think about the last time you were truly happy. Where were you? What were you doing? Regardless of your answers to these two questions, I guarantee that nothing was as important as who you were with. One of the most important things I learned last year was that no matter how successful I became or where I was in the world, I wouldn’t be happy without the people that mattered most to me.
When you start recruiting, or any stressful period in your life, it becomes easy to tell yourself that you don’t have time to see them. That is simply false. You may have less time, but if you want something enough, you can make it happen.
When you graduate from UC Berkeley, you will have forgotten most of what you’ve learned in your classes. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably already forgotten what you learned in accounting today. The only thing that you will hold onto is the relationships you form and the memories you make with those people. Don’t come away from this amazing time and community with nothing. Make time for the important people in your life.
- Allow yourself to be happy.
A Haas friend of mine wrote an article last year for the Daily Cal, in which she talked about the “UC Berkeley problem that has no name” – we give ourselves so much pressure that we feel guilty for making time to do things that make us happy.
Too many times last year, I found myself thinking, “I should be prepping for interviews,” when I was doing anything but. My peers have repeatedly told me that they’ve experienced this as well.
I’m telling you that it’s ok. Take a deep breath. Two hours to unwind with some basketball or to grab a drink at Tap Haus isn’t going to undermine your chances. Don’t feel guilty about having a good time and being happy, because contrary to what your world is telling you right now, it’s what you should be doing. And when you’re done, feel free to lace up those dress shoes, grab that folder of resumes off your bed, and proceed to the next info session.
Just remember, in the words of king Kendrick, “We gon’ be alright.”