Racial Equity@Haas: 4th Year Haas Undergraduate – Abigail Balingit

This Racial Equity@Haas blog series written by three Haas students (Charlie James, Alankrita Dayal, and Naayl Kazmi) is providing the space for us to meet our core principles of being Students Always, Beyond Ourselves, and Questioning the Status Quo by opening the conversation on race, how it manifests in business, and its broader implications. We’re asking Four questions to members of the Haas community in order to illuminate how racial equity in business and Haas is conceived and to stir an open conversation.

Abigail Balingit is a fourth year Business Administration and Media Studies double major. During this past year, she was an Arts & Entertainment Reporter for the Daily Californian. Balingit enjoys long walks to FIFO and also listening to Drake on the way to class. After graduation, She will hopefully be employed somewhere in marketing and advertising, and she will be going to New York during the summer with her family.

Q1) What is Racial Equity to You?

“Racial equity is kind of seeing people of all different walks of life and different communities, whether that be African American, Asian American, or international communities. I think that it’s important to see that America is not really a melting pot, but a salad bowl made up of different people represented in a community. I could say racial equity is racial equality in a sense; that’s what I think it means.”

Q2) How do you find Racial Equity Important to Business?

“I think it’s super important right off the bat. If a company or organization doesn’t have the best diversity or if you don’t see other people besides one certain race, what other or different perspectives will you gain? – especially in business where I feel it affects so many other people besides just the direct consumers, direct suppliers, or employers. I think it’s important to know that in surveying a community or even – in a profit sense – trying to increase profits, a business should not exclude entire different groups of people from that whole process.

Q3) In Your Perception, How is Haas on Racial Equity?

“I would say I feel like there are efforts to increase people of different backgrounds in the community, which I feel personally that I am part of – I used to be in Partnership for Pre-Professional Philipinxs. There are also other groups on campus like HUBBA, LBSA, which I think do a great job in trying to integrate people within the business community. But I definitely do think it would be nice to see more diversity. I definitely think there could be a lot more representation at Haas.

With the immigration ban that happened earlier this past semester, it would be great in the business community, within Haas especially, to shed more light on the different experiences of people from different backgrounds that do come to study at Haas and to actually highlight and stand in solidarity with that cause of resisting the immigration ban. I think it’s important to do more; I mean they’re doing stuff, but I want to see more personally.”

Additional question) What would “doing more” look like to you?

“Even in my own personal experience, there aren’t many other people who are Filipino American – I literally know two other people at Haas that are. It’s really difficult not seeing more people of color being represented as they could be because there are a lot of different kinds of people at Haas – there are athletes, people in all different kinds of organizations. It would be nice just to see more people that can understand where you’re coming from to be in that space too. Not just for me, but for other communities as well that are underrepresented minorities, it’s tough when you feel like you’re having your community on your back almost, like you have to hold that weight on your own. For me it’s kind of difficult when I don’t have a lot of people from the Filipino community to talk to.”

Q4) Please Add a Personal Anecdote on Racial Equity.

“I took UGBA 105 Leading People and we talked about how it’s hard when we face different conflicts in the workplace, especially harassment – those are the really touchy topics as well as how to deal with those scenarios in real life. But I remember vividly in class asking something along the lines, ‘if someone is putting you down because of the color of your skin or where you come from but it’s not an outward slap in the face, how do you address that?’ It was a question I posed to the Professor, which I identified to the class as microaggressions. It was difficult to talk about these things, especially in Haas where we talk about stuff like accounting and how to increase profits, but she asked if I could explain that to the class, but it’s almost so hard – I think microaggressions are one of the hardest things to explain especially.

For me, my background was like – I came from a low-income background; in high school, it was like the minority-was-the-majority kind of experience for when I was growing up in Stockton. It was really weird because I kind of put a halo on Berkeley – I think of the halo effect – like it would have the most diverse people from everywhere and that everyone would be woke. That’s what I always thought, but going in, it was a little different because I totally saw that – where I come from is like a bubble – and then here it’s like, while there is so much diversity and that so many people come from different countries, I definitely saw more of what America looks like – you know – a majority white, and less people of color. I did for the first time feel like a minority, especially in times of snide remarks and light things that made me feel kind of ignored, which is really hard since I didn’t even know how to say these things. For instance, when we were looking at scenarios in Leading People; it’s just like what do you say when your co-worker kind of makes fun of your food or something. There are definitely degrees of racial inequity but sometimes it’s to the extent where sometimes it just feels like you’re getting put down. It’s kind of an insidious feeling where you don’t even realize it for a long time until you think about it for a while.”

 

Who You Gonna Call? Noor Gaith: The iPhone Guy

From Center: Nuurglass founder and CEO Noor Gaith surrounded by his team of expert technicians.

 ​“I became the Napa Valley iPhone guy,” joked Noor Gaith as he told me about his path to becoming an expert tech and go-to electronic wizard on the UC Berkeley campus. Gaith’s company, Nuurglass, offers uber-like on demand, cost-effective, and student-run cell phone and computer repair. His eager, helpful, can-do attitude is part of the company culture and extends to his technicians whose efficiency and friendliness virtually erase the angst, stress, and disaster of damaging one of your electronics.

​Nuurglass, which began as father-son bonding back in 2007, inspired in part by his father’s Mechanical Engineering background, nurtured into Gaith’s electronic and entrepreneurial expertise. After successfully repairing his brother’s iPhone, he became Napa student’s go-to for tech. Encouraged by promotion from his brother and his father’s enthusiasm for hands-on learning, Nuurglass took off. While in community College, Gaith balanced 20 unit course loads, daily repairs, building his business and technical skills, and preparing his transfer application to Haas. UC Berkeley and Haas provides the education and student base necessary to grow his company.

​Gaith is grateful for the support, confidence, and ‘push’ his family gave him to pursue expanding his hobby into a company. He realized the necessity to take smart risks when the correct opportunities presented themselves. At Haas, Gaith was inspired to grow his company from a solo-operation to a multi-employee and platform endeavor. With a team of student-professional technicians available, on-demand, Gaith is making a name for himself at Cal. The Nuurglass facebook page (see link at the end of this article), where services can be ordered and paid for, is filled with positive student and faculty reviews praising the price, efficiency, high quality parts, and helpfulness of Gaith’s service.

Healing Tools: The parts that bring your iPhone back to life

​His drive to expand Nuurglass was reenergized in Kurt Beyer’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation course which acted as an incubation space for students to work on their startups. The course’s encouragement and lessons helped Gaith get past the business school’s sometimes consuming competitive spirit. Rather than getting “overworked and worked up”, as Gaith has noticed some students do, he allowed the competitive energy to “drive him”. Gaith reminds himself and his peers interested in entrepreneurial career pursuits that, “college is a microcosm of the world…now is the time to give something a shot,” because while it might be “scary, it’s [also] very exciting”. His passion and positive attitude have helped Gaith push through setbacks and continue building his company and team.
​His enterprise faces competition from larger companies but what makes Nuurglass unique is its place on the Cal campus and its creation, maintenance, and employment of Cal students. While the app is in beta, at launch, it will further expedite the already efficient and convenient on-demand process. Gaith has selected employees carefully considering not only their advanced mechanical, technical skills, but also their ability to immediately inspire trust between strangers. Gaith hopes to expand Nuurglass to the other UC campuses within the next five years. He’s a perfectionist, committed to ensuring all technicians and future college ambassadors operations are streamlined and error-free, creating the same trust and student connection he created on the Cal campus.

​In addition to campus expansion, Gaith wants to make a dent in e-waste. His research and training taught him that roughly “70% of a phone can be recycled” but the industry typically recycles “only about 14%” is. Gaith repairs electronics more efficiently. Nuurglass will help reduce e-waste, solve your tech emergencies, and provide mechanical training and employment to undergraduate students. It’s a classic Berkeley entrepreneurial story- improving life for customers, helping the planet, and achieving economic and personal success. The next time you have an incident with one of your smart devices, don’t stress. Let a Nuurglass technician come to you and bring your device “back to life”.

https://www.facebook.com/nuurglass/

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“Know Thyself”

“Know Thyself.” My time abroad has provided me with the necessary change in perspective to reflect on this phrase. In doing so, I have thought about one specific area of development that runs through every aspect of my life.

Delayed Satisfaction.

The idea of this is often frustrating. We, as business students, do not like to work without the notion of immediate results. But, could this delay actually be a good thing? Here are a few areas in my life where I have identified the value of delayed satisfaction. I hope that this reflection will allow you, reader searching for immediate results, to take the time to reflect on your own life. Maybe, to determine where you seek immediate satisfaction. Hopefully, to figure out how delayed satisfaction is actually valuable to you.

Track and Field:

As a student-athlete, I have continually experienced long periods of delayed satisfaction. It has helped me develop strength. During weekend training, my coach will often check in and ask about the state of our bodies. Usually, following a week of practice, I am honest and say that I feel beat.  He accepts, understands, and then we begin warm-up. Intervals come next. We are coached to push far over our level of comfort. These practices, for me, are sometimes frustrating. I, as an athlete, do not feel springy or fast or fresh. But I realize now that I am not meant to. These practices are about working in a state of discomfort in order to develop mental strength. They are not about immediate reward. I have had to learn that the reward for mental strength may not come in the next day or next month. But the value of this delayed satisfaction lies in the process. You develop the strength to practice when you don’t want to, the strength to push when you think you can’t, and the strength to compete in uncomfortable circumstances.

Haas School of Business (UGBA 100):

As a class representative for UGBA 100, I learned that delayed satisfaction is valuable training for the professional world. In this class, we were often given an assignment that had minimal direction. Yes, we knew the length, the font, and the margin requirements. We knew the ultimate goal but were unclear about how to get there. And…that was the assignment. Figure out how to get from point A to “successful pitch.” At first, I was frustrated. I asked for more instruction, more details, what exactly do I need? Near the middle of the semester, our teacher explained that there is value to be found in working “in the dark.” Working to produce a finalized, quality assignment without a blueprint. That in the working world, we will not be directed around every turn. There will be decisions we need to make for ourselves. This practice of working without robotic delivery, strengthens our confidence in our instincts as educated students.

Study Abroad at The National Theater School of Ireland:

Through studying conservatory acting, I have learned that delayed satisfaction is valuable due to the process it forces. That is, the process without immediate result. A large part of my curriculum in Ireland requires memorization. From Shakespeare sonnets (Sonnet 137) to Greek speeches (Antigone) to plays (Othello), I have had to memorize countless lines. The process of memorization involves a huge amount of delayed satisfaction. True memorization, for me, is about repetition. Memorize. Say the lines in a quiet room, say them with a beat, sing them, say them while running, say them in an elevator, say them while trying to listen to your favorite song. The process is long and frankly, it is often irritating. Often, the point of it is to put yourself in situations of mental or physical stress in order to see if the lines are truly memorized. The value is finally recognized in performance, on stage, impacting an audience. The lines are clear, the groundwork is laid, and the process pays off.

So, I know, this is my reflection, my view of delayed satisfaction. I realize that my experiences may not resonate directly with yours. I encourage you, reader still looking for immediate results,  to think of areas in your life where you have felt frustrated with a process. Where you have been  frustrated by the time it took. Search for the strength you’re building, how this might help you in the future, and what you are gaining from laying the groundwork. There is often value in delaying satisfaction, we just need to find it.

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You’re Not a “Haas-hole”

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People aren’t born with corruption as their goal in life, but rather people grow and develop aspirations, and sometimes fall short of their moral compass along the way. I want to share my story, where I went through and continue to go through the process of balancing my dreams with my ethical values.

Throughout my life, I have been taught to act with integrity and consideration for others. As a business student, I am constantly reflecting on my career goals, making sure my intentions and actions are in line with my moral compass and ethics.

The “Haas-Hole”

From an outsider’s perspective, the term “Haas-hole” comes to mind. People feel that business students’ intentions are corrupt, because we are “learning to make money”, rather than a technical skill. However, this mindset fails to grasp everything the term “business” encompasses. Yes, in order for a for-profit business to survive, profits are necessary. But, there is so much more that happens before profits are realized.  Businesses have the potential to impact thousands, if not millions, of lives every day. Employees, customers, influencers, suppliers, distributors, shareholders – these are all people who are touched both directly and indirectly by the role businesses play in society. Moreover, businesses have significant power, where their actions can either benefit or hurt stakeholders. Though my intentions are to act with integrity and consideration for others, is that really enough? Or do I need to consider the repercussions of my actions?

The Beginning

Ever since I was the age of six, I have had a love for business. This sounds crazy, right? You’re probably thinking, “how on earth could a six-year old possibly like, let alone love, business?” It all started in my home. My younger brother and I had converted our bedrooms into operating businesses. Some days it was a 5-star restaurant, and other days it was a luxury day spa, where we charged our parents and grandparents reasonable prices, of course. Throughout high school, I continuously exercised my creative desires, organizing school dances and other events. I’d show up at 5AM just to start lining the entire school with posters and decorations in order to build spirit and unity amongst our campus community. And somewhere in between making menus for my restaurant and making signs for high school dances, I found my love for marketing.

Marketing

In my opinion, marketing is one of the fastest changing aspects of business. The ways people interact with products are constantly shifting. In the 1920’s, people would sit by the radio in order to receive information. By the 1950’s, television ads had become the next big thing. Then came the online banner ads. And now, you are exposed to product promotions on Instagram and Snapchat. Cool, so what’s the point? My point is this. Marketing is so much more than just advertising products or services. Marketing captures the art in which people communicate with each other and our surrounding environment. It’s the way businesses connect and engage with society. Sure, radio, television, internet and social media ads are all trying to sell you something, but it’s the “why” that is most intriguing to me. Marketers have to be knowledgeable of the relevant communication outlets in order to do their job effectively. Coming up with a message is easy. It’s coming up with a message that people will resonate with that’s difficult. This includes the way people are exposed to the message. Different audiences engage with different technologies and platforms at different times and places, so it is important to capture them appropriately. Now with that said, I have to ask myself, “will pursuing a career in marketing allow me to continue acting with my core values in mind?”

Career Goals and Ethics

Objectively speaking, marketing involves a variety of processes that ultimately attempt to create a demand for a product or service. However, is this really ethical? How much “stuff” do people really need. Do people really need that Kate Spade purse? Or do people really need five different colors of Converse shoes? I’m a person who considers my ethics and moral compass in every decision I make. As such, this was a conversation that I commonly had during interviews. My passion for marketing was obvious, but could it satisfy my need to make a positive contribution to society? Could I still pursue a career in marketing, while staying true to my beliefs about what I feel is right and wrong? My answer is yes, conditional to the following:

  • I believe in the company’s mission statement
  • I believe in the product and/or service the company is offering/selling
  • The company is genuine, meaning anything the company portrays itself as to the public eye is 100% accurate
  • As a member of the marketing team, I will never lie to consumers (i.e. products that consumers do not need will not be expressed as such)

Though this list is quite general and brief, it has helped me to find an amazing opportunity, where I feel I do not have to compromise on my career aspirations or personal values. And trust me, there is no better feeling than waking up to do something you love, while feeling good about doing it. So, just because you’re majoring in business, it doesn’t mean you’re an unethical person. You’re not a “Haas-hole”, despite outsiders’ negative perspectives. You’re allowed to follow your career interests and passions, while following your ethical values. Hopefully my story and thought process can help you to figure out how your aspirations will or will not align with your moral compass.

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Racial Equity@Haas: Core Professor – Krystal Thomas (UGBA 100)

Guest Post Written by Naayl Kazmi.

This Racial Equity@Haas blog series written by three Haas students (Charlie James, Alankrita Dayal, and Naayl Kazmi) is providing the space for us to meet our core principles of being Students Always, Beyond Ourselves, and Questioning the Status Quo by opening the conversation on race, how it manifests in business, and its broader implications. We’re asking Four questions to members of the Haas community in order to illuminate how racial equity in business and Haas is conceived and to stir an open conversation.

Krystal Jalene Thomas is a lecturer with the undergraduate program at UC Berkeley – Haas, and an alumna from 1994. Her professional experiences range from change management consulting with Accenture, to strategic marketing, to media, where she helms her own content development and production company, Pooka Ventures. Professor Thomas has a BS/BA from UC Berkeley and an MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Responses have been abridged for length and clarity.

Q1) What is racial equity to you?

“Racial equity as a whole is hope, a goal. Part of the problem is that we, as a society, don’t have a common sense of what is equal.  That’s why we’re having this discussion to begin with.

Personally, I think the promise of racial equity is what MLK talked about – the moment where all people will be ‘judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.’  I don’t want to be solely defined by race, gender, or other labels we are so quick to impose. I’d rather be seen for my contributions, my humanity, my actions, my spirit. Labels reduce individuality to stereotypes. Once typed, you’re left with one of two positions:  assume the stereotype or fight the stereotype. Either way, a typed person never gets a fair chance to fully express who they are in the world. So, to sum up – I see racial equity as an abstract concept, best expressed in Dr. King’s hope of an equity that transcends superficial markers.”

Q2) In your perception, how is Haas on matters of racial equity?

“As a student at Cal in the 90’s, the diversity of the campus was the most transformative aspect of my college experience. I used to say it was like ‘going to Howard in the middle of Harvard’. The numbers spoke for themselves back then: around 15% Asian (depending on how you define Asian), 8% African American, 4-6% Latinx, and international students comprising 25% of the student body. I have friends now in Uruguay, because I met someone from that tiny South American country back in undergrad. So, it hurts my heart as a professional faculty member today to not see that kind of representation, or to see certain populations be the only face in class. At my time at Haas, I was never the only African American student in any class. The reason it hurts my heart is because people come to Berkeley, specifically, on a journey to figure out who they are and define themselves as individuals. You can’t fully walk that path if you’re not exposed to the world you are defining yourself in.

In my own life, I was one of 13 African Americans in a high school of 3200 in Huntington Beach, California.  During that time in my life, I always felt out of place because I was constantly considered an exception. In school, I was ‘the articulate black girl’ but my extended family felt I ‘acted too white.’ Berkeley was the first place I ever felt like a whole person. And then to discover courses like African American Studies 1A, my world just opened. I would’ve never had that opportunity if I hadn’t been at Berkeley when Professor Roy Thomas could call up Angela Davis and say ‘Hey, come talk to my class!’ – those were the kind of Berkeley experiences that shaped me. As the daughter of an international businessman, I spoke multiple languages. So, the opportunity to just go hang out in a Chicano class – and hear from my Latinx contemporaries about the politics of language, for example, wouldn’t have happened at any other college. Today, I try my best to bring diverse perspectives back into the classroom to pay forward the Berkeley experience.

Moving back to your question in regards to Haas, many of those shaping the vision of the undergraduate program today were connected to Berkeley in the 90’s and saw the impact of Prop 209.  I’m very confident in Haas leadership because it’s made of individuals who understand how we’ve evolved. We can’t solve a racial equity problem, as you’re terming it, without understanding how we got there. Programs crafted by leaders like Dr. Erika Walker, or Dean Lyons are rethinking what it means to be diverse. Consider a simple act like the defining four principles of Haas. Such an innovative move cultivates the seeds for emphasizing individuality, content, and character, allowing for a more holistic assessment of the kinds of people associated with Haas without discrediting the experiences shaped by anyone’s gender, race, age or socioeconomic status.

Like many alumna from my era, I held emotional scars from racial debates impacting California educational policies. I distinctly remember an incident at Berkeley, when an Asian male student told me that I’d likely taken the place of his more qualified Asian friend because of affirmative action. But when I actually listed my accomplishments and qualifications from high school, his response was like ‘oh, well maybe you do belong here.’  I share this not to debate affirmative action or Prop 209, but more to express the emotional impacts of policy. For many of us, it felt like they didn’t want us here – that we hadn’t earned the right to be here. For quite a few years after graduation, my attitude towards Berkeley was – ‘Don’t call me for money, don’t reach out for my support; if you don’t believe in my value, then – deuces!’  It was my best friend from Cal, also an African American who said to me, ‘if you feel that strongly about it, go back and work to change things.’ So, when you talk about how things are today, you can’t ignore the emotional impacts. Our Haas leadership today recognizes the pain of that period and is demonstrably committed to creating a culture where everyone is respected and belongs.”

Q3) How do you find racial equity important to business? 

“Businesses are microcosms of the society and the environments they operate in. Today’s world is more global and connected than ever before. To stay competitive, businesses have to be exposed to diverse environments and ways of thinking.  Race, gender, and age are elements that form our reality, and shape our perspectives as individuals. Differentiation in product, brand, positioning, culture, and market comes from distinct perspectives. Native understanding of problems, gaps and opportunities generate stronger business solutions.  You can’t grow by staying static, or unearth the next product or disruption if everyone in an organization thinks the same way or shares only one similar experience. In short, companies that reflect the world they serve, win.”

Q4) Parting thoughts?

“As a school and a workplace, Berkeley is one of the most committed organizations to diversity I’ve ever encountered. Although discussions about this topic can be challenging, Berkeley and Haas remain committed to having the conversations, which is half the battle. In fact, I think a role of Cal in the world is to talk about these kinds of things and spark meaningful dialogue.

The movements on this campus are often decades ahead of the mainstream zeitgeist, from the civil rights and free speech movement, to sexual identity and gender equity, to the myriad of conversations happening today. Diversity, of all kinds, is something people care about here, and that authentic spirit creates a culture where the fullest expression of personal identity has a chance to be realized.”

Thank you.

 

 

Building Community with NextGen Consulting

There’s a new consulting club at Berkeley! What makes this club different from other consulting groups? Their mantra says it’s “inclusivity” and “transparency” – something that seemed to resonate with its impressive 70+ student membership pool, recruited in just its initial launch this semester! They’re calling it “NextGen Consulting,” and they’re striving to question the status quo of on campus business culture. To learn more about NextGen, we have with us Daniel Sheperd, the Executive Vice President and one of the seven founding members.

Let’s start with why your team decided to create NextGen Consulting?

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Daniel Shepard. Haas Undergraduate. NGC Founder. Life Changer.

D. Shepard – We created NextGen because we saw a gap between student needs and current consulting club culture at Berkeley. Although there are a ton of consulting clubs, we saw that overall there is a lack of access for those who are interested in the industry, but currently have no experience. The design of the current system seeks the “best of the best” candidates, which results in familiar faces in club leadership and hundreds of capable applicants out of the picture. This rejection can have career implications too–if people aren’t able to get into business clubs as a student, it is nearly impossible for them to land an interview in the real world. This culture also reinforces the common “Snake” narrative on campus, which has its own deep, ulterior effects on Haas students. We’ve found a way to deliver the consulting experience to everyone, because we know that there is a lot more impact possible than what is currently out there.

 

 When starting this new organization, was it challenging competing for clients or members against more entrenched business clubs?

D. Shepard – It’s difficult to measure whether or not other clubs are having an impact on our ability to land clients. And while we do have “traditional” clients like the clubs you mentioned, we focus more on our own NextGen projects, where we reverse the traditional process and proactively reach out to companies after we decide to work on a problem they already have. Thinking about the overall student candidate pool, there doesn’t seem to be a need to compete since there is so much demand out there. This semester was our soft launch and we only expected about 20 people–but then we turned around and had 80 applicants! We’ll find out next semester during our hard launch whether or not there is some measurable competition between us and other business clubs.

So the demand is there, is NexGen using it to focus more on building client relationships or student development?

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NextGen founders seen building community one meeting at a time!

D. Shepard – While we do take pride in the NextGen process and the work we do; we feel that there is a much more important mission in developing our members to be ready for the business world. We help them by giving everyone Analyst-level training, and the opportunity to work on a NextGen project. Beyond that, we have a rotation of professional development events like Excel training, networking/resume workshops, and career panels. Also, we try to open these events up to non-members (if they are willing to pay a fee), so that everyone can have access to this experience.

How else does NextGen differ from other consulting groups?  Like through culture for example?

D. Shepard – That is a dense topic! The one thing I’ll say about other consulting clubs is that, objectively, there is a current perception of exclusivity and pretentiousness that has given business and Haas a bad reputation (e.g. Snakes). This environment has resulted in the inherent (and understandable) partiality to familiar faces in the recruiting process, and a lack of willingness to change when things are already going so well. As founders we recognized this problem, and made inclusivity and transparency  the core values of what we believe in as an organization. Again, thinking about the current business club culture—it doesn’t have to be this way!

Is there anything you want people to know about NextGen?

D. Shepard – We’d just like to emphasize that we are not here to throw salt at anyone. Knowing that quite literally all Cal students are very capable individuals, we simply disagree with how business is currently being done on campus. Part of our long-term mission is to eliminate the negative view of business on campus while making it more positive and accessible for everyone. We are working with (not against) other clubs to hopefully make this vision a reality!

Thanks a lot for your time today Daniel and for sharing your team’s perspective on inclusivity and transparency! NextGen is sure to set a great example to future students for how an organization can exude several of the Haas pillars while also giving back to the student community!

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So you want to be an investment banker? (Or accountant, or consultant)?

As the summer nears, many juniors at Haas are beginning to worry about their summer internship and how to do well. I know there were many instances in which I freaked out before last summer, and I’m sure many of you have the same questions:

How do I get an offer? Are the hours as long as people make them out to be? Am I going to sleep under my desk? Are people going to be mean to me?

So, I thought I would shed some light on my summer internship experience – keep in mind that because I did banking, this will be more relevant to ABC (accounting/banking/consulting) internships, but I think all of these tips can be applied to any job! Here are what I think are the few most important things you should keep in mind going into this summer:

  1. Get the offer.

Your job this summer is to get a return offer. There are a few reasons why this is true. First, if you decide that you want to continue doing investment banking, or consulting, or accounting after graduation – then you will have a job lined up one year in advance. That is an amazing proposition, and will make your senior year an absolute blast.

However, beyond that, getting offer is crucial to proving to future employers that you performed well enough that a company wanted to hire you back. Remember, the internship is essentially a 2-month interview. If you don’t get the offer, it signals to future employers that perhaps there was something wrong with your work quality, or that you simply did not perform well – that’s definitely something you want to avoid! Getting an offer, even if you decide you want to work somewhere else after graduation, is highly important.

  1. The little things matter.

This is so cliché. But it’s absolutely, 100% true. Being on time, being presentable, communicating effectively. These are the things that will get you an offer. You were hired because you are a good culture fit for the firm, and because they believed that you were capable of doing the work. And at most firms, the offer is yours to lose. However, if you become known as the “habitually late” intern, or are a poor communicator and your boss has to hunt you down for his work, then you will surely not receive a great review for your internship.

Over-communicate. Ask your boss if there is a hard deadline when they give you an assignment. ALWAYS take notes when they are explaining a project or task to you. And be on time – I cannot stress punctuality enough.

  1. Relationships matter.

People don’t believe me when I say that being a good culture fit is equally as important as being a good worker. At Berkeley, you already know how competitive it is. Most of your peers are capable of doing the work of an investment banking analyst, or an entry level consultant. At the end of the internship, your colleagues are going to sit in a room together and decide whether you should return for a full-time position. It will surely reflect well on you if:

  1. Everyone in the office knows you because you’ve worked with them/grabbed coffee with them/had a friendly conversation with them
  2. People in the office genuinely like you

Therefore, make sure that you talk to your co-workers! Don’t bury yourself in your work all the time. Walk around the office, ask people to grab coffee, ask questions, and try to make friends among your intern class and your colleagues. It will not only make your experience more enjoyable, but also help you come home with that offer.

And at the end of the day, remember that this is just an internship, and the path to a return offer shouldn’t be ambiguous. As long as you are diligent, communicative, and friendly, it should be yours.

Good luck everyone!