Following up with my gigantic list of business clubs, I thought it would only be fitting if I talked about my own experience with extracurriculars. Experiences definitely vary person to person, and if you’re interested in learning more about a particular time of mine, feel free to shoot me an email! In addition, you should definitely ask members about their own experience in their organization, because these are not standardized.
Freshman Year First Semester (Fall 2012)
In my freshman year, first semester, I decided to join FSBC, or Freshman Sophomore Business Club as a general member. What’s cool about FSBC is that they are an organization run by underclassmen, for underclassmen. Thus, if you’re interested in getting more involved in a club with a less competitive atmosphere, FSBC is your ticket for faster leadership and hands-on experience as a freshman or sophomore. For me, however, I was disappointed in the lack of opportunities general members are given, and I left the following semester. They do offer a variety of committees if you’re interested in those.
During the same semester, I also joined UC Women’s Chorale (UCWC). This group is great for a first involvement in the Berkeley musical sphere as it’s inclusive and open to everyone. However, I thought there were too many people in the organization, and wanted to sing more meaningful music.
Towards the end of the semester, I took part in In Christ Alone, a Christian fellowship. I joined because the people there were really nice, and I was at a disconnect with my own thoughts and religion from high school at the time. As time went on, however, again I eventually drifted away from religion and wandered somewhere else.
These groups were the ones I participated in the most, and it’s clear that I did not do that much my first semester. While I explored various opportunities here at Cal other than the ones listed, I ultimately decided to try something small and move on to bigger organizations and opportunities when I felt ready. This was a big mistake. In the end, I didn’t find a community I felt I belonged in, wasn’t able to fully develop my interest in business, and couldn’t even sing for fun. My first semester wasn’t exactly the ideal first semester experience, and if I could do it all over again I definitely would have.
Freshman Year Second Semester (Spring 2013)
I transitioned to another club called Business Careers in Entertainment Club, or BCEC for short. I really wanted to join because I figured we’d learn a lot about business and entertainment, two areas I wanted to explore. I managed to snag a committee member position with the TV Committee, where I developed professional skills through various workshops, case competition planning and hosting, and canvassing. I enjoyed my time there, but ultimately explored other opportunities after the semester ended because I thought I had to continue into leadership positions in which I did not feel ready to partake in. I should have done another committee with them instead of having this mindset.
From my UCWC flop, I tried auditioning for other a cappella groups. I got a bite, and ended up becoming a singer for Perfect Fifth, Berkeley’s premier Renaissance and Baroque a cappella group! Here was a group I liked much more, singing beautiful pieces for many to hear. I am a part of this group to this day!
I was invited to Acts2Fellowship, another Christian fellowship under Gracepoint church, composed of many other fellowships on campus. I wanted to try religion once more, but the result was the same. I unfortunately am no longer open to the idea of pursuing Christianity.
Second semester, I was much more content with myself than the previous semester. I again did not pursue bigger organizations, however I was directly involved in several opportunities with smaller and more personal groups, so it was a good transition into more meaningful things I would experience later on.
Sophomore Year First Semester (Fall 2013)
I became a part of Berkeley Marketing Club, or BMC in the fall after hearing about a Disney kick-off. I applied to be an internal committee member, and finally I found a club that I could stick around with. I was quite passionate about marketing at the time, so I wanted to be a part of an organization dedicated to helping others learn more about marketing and provide more experience in the field! It was perfect.
I was still with Perfect Fifth, and began maintaining the website as well as assisted the business manager in participating in bimonthly UC Choral Ensembles (UCCE) meetings.
In the summer, I became an advisor for CalAsk, a “Ask Us Anything” type of website dedicated to answering questions that students may have about Berkeley. In addition, we compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions on the website and set about answering them. In a sense, this website is similar to Advice From a Haas Major (and prepped me for advising questions), except with more people involved and provides more generalized advice.
This semester, I also applied for Haas. Note, none of these opportunities directly had leadership experience. I also perceived this part of the application to be extremely weak; I hopped around clubs, and had some committee experience here and there. But nothing as concrete as leadership. I was nervous I wouldn’t make it.
However, as you are well aware, I did indeed get into Haas. While I don’t attribute such success to any one factor, I do believe that working and building relationships throughout your semesters here at Cal with one or a couple of organizations will help. This is why I suggest checking out the ones you’re interested in, and make a commitment.
Sophomore Year Second Semester (Spring 2014)
Ironically, all of my leadership experience arose after I applied to Haas. The reason? I wasn’t interested in leadership beforehand. I didn’t feel as though I was ready to lead others when I myself wasn’t clear on what to do yet. However, when this spring came around, I suddenly shouldered much more responsibility than I had in previous years. I became the Co-External Vice President with BMC, and became project manager on a side project, assembling a team of programmers to help me with a web application that will (eventually) be released.
I followed my interests, and pre-determined which opportunities would be fit for me and which weren’t. Perhaps it was unfortunate for me. Perhaps if I only went for the risk, I would have became more confident and more connected than I am now. However, I led myself to grow, not Haas. Perhaps that’s also why Haas accepted me, because somehow, they knew I did the things I did not for the sole purpose of admission, but for self-development and contribution as well. You should do the things you do for such pure purposes as well.
I didn’t join any of the “big” and popular clubs available. I did have a big consulting phase my second semester, but that didn’t pan out. I guess you could say I’m a bit different than most people interested in business clubs in that I was only really involved in one per semester, but that’s also because I did a lot of other activities and projects on the side. I suggest you try them out and see if they are for you! It gives you a chance to become involved on campus and meet other people. It’s a good experience to have, and if it ends up not being your cup of tea, you can always try something else.
Right now, it may seem overwhelming with the amount of business clubs we have on campus. In addition to those, there are tons more organizations that have foothold in other departments such as dance, music, ethnic, volunteering, etc. How does one go about choosing? Go with your interests. Think about what kind of experience you want out of an opportunity, and go with the one that best suits your needs. To get there, visit their website, talk to current members, and get suggestions about other clubs from other people you know! You can do this!
Remember that everything should revolve around your needs and your contribution to campus. Do not just choose one particular activity because it will look good on your resume or application. You must be the person to initiate, you are the one who will take this with you through to your future. Make every experience count, make it something that you enjoy. Don’t be like me and not make the most of it.