Haas: What Happens If I Don’t Get In?

Reality? Nothing happens. Nothing happens when you get in, either.

Yesterday, hundreds of people received a congratulatory message from the Haas School of Business, yet other hundreds received a not so encouraging one. Some celebrated, others were disappointed.

Whatever was the result of that outcome, or the outcome that is to come, remember that your major does not dictate your career nor your life. If everyone had to be a business major to do consulting or accounting, the corporate world wouldn’t be as diverse as it is today.

If you will soon enter the Haas Class of 2017; congratulations! If you did not, that’s okay. Both of your journeys do not end at this point. Instead, you have to work even harder in order to do what you love.

You want to do consulting or business development?:

  • Apply to consulting organizations. If some of the more popular ones like Berkeley Consulting or The Berkeley Group are out of reach, try more well-rounded ones like Berkeley Business Society or Phi Beta Lambda, where you can always be a general member or apply to a committee. More groups here.
  • Practice cases. A good way to do this is to join Consulting Club at Berkeley, where they have weekly cases to practice for interviews.
  • Try to build a business for yourself. You’ll only really be an asset if you have good business sense and intuition. Building something like a student organization or a start-up is good practice for that. Identify a key business opportunity, and work off of it.
  • More information here.
  • Note that “business major” is not a pre-requisite in any of these scenarios.

You want to do accounting or investment banking?:

  • Take UGBA 102A (Introduction to Financial Accounting), UGBA 102B (Introduction to Managerial Accounting), and more advanced courses like UGBA 120AA, 120AB, and 120B. Also good choices are UGBA 103 (Finance) and other courses in the UGBA 120 and 130 levels. Phase 1 yourself, choose an unpopular section, and you’ll be good.
  • For a more quantitative approach, consider taking Statistics (Stats 134-Concepts in Probability perhaps), Economics (Econ 100A or 101A-Microeconomics & Econ 100B or 101B-Macroeconomics), UGBA 104 (Spreadsheets), or even some Computer Science courses (CS 61A-Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs or CS 61B-Data Structures).
  • Talk with the professors of these courses, and they can give you solid advice about your career path. My UGBA 102A professor (Tiffany Rasmussen) graduated from Cal with a degree in Sociology and became an accountant for KPMG for 10+ years before lecturing three different levels of financial accounting at Haas. She still maintains good relationships with recruiters at KPMG, so she could potentially forward you to the appropriate parties. I’m sure this is similar with other professors as well.
  • More information here.
  • Note that “business major” is yet again not a pre-requisite in any of these scenarios.

You want to do marketing?:

  • I’ve provided a list of courses and organizations to try out here.
  • Note that “business major” is yet again not a pre-requisite in any of those scenarios.

You want to do human resources?

  • Berkeley unfortunately does not have that many resources dedicated to HR. There are a couple classes you can look into like UGBA 105 (Organizational Behavior) and UGBA 151 (Introduction to Human Resources), which both can be enrolled through Phase 1ing in an unpopular section. There’s also SHRA, a student organization dedicated to promoting HR at Berkeley.
  • Make your own organization or business, and manage people directly! That will give you a good sense as to whether HR is a good fit. Become a leader, and you’ll naturally learn principles of recruiting, interviews, onboarding, and other tasks that human resources do.
  • Note that “business major” is yet again not a pre-requisite in any of these scenarios,

You want to do product management?

  • PM is a very broad discipline. There’s the tech side (that focuses more on how the product will be developed across design and development teams) and the more business side (that focuses more on what happens after the product has been developed across marketing, financial, and organizational teams). If the product is a type of software, having some knowledge in computer science would be beneficial.
  • Because it’s so broad, you’ll need to have some knowledge in Marketing (UGBA 106), Accounting (UGBA 102A / 102B), Finance (UGBA 103), and maybe some CS (61A / 61B). You can get into these classes if you Phase 1 an unpopular section. In addition, classes like IEOR 185 (Challenge Lab) are interesting in that you can simulate a real start-up situation, like creating a product for consumers and pitching it to Venture Capitalists.
  • Participate in project-focused courses like in UGBA 190T / MechE 110 (Product Development) or CS 160 (User Interface Design) would get you a feel for how to manage and work on the product itself. Working on projects within student organizations like CalBlueprint, The Berkeley Group (which works with CalBlueprint), or even some other consulting organizations also helps get a sense for how projects are developed, giving you a better sense of how projects can be managed.
  • Build your own projects and find people to work with you on them! If you have an idea, go for it. This will give you the greatest sense of whether or not it’s for you, since it’s mostly a logistic and integration challenge.
  • Note that “business major” is yet again not a pre-requisite in any of these scenarios. However, learning some computer science would be important, depending on what kind of PM you’re interested in.

You don’t have to be a Haas major to do any of these career paths. You will end up doing what you love; regardless of your major, because you will work hard to get there. Let’s work hard together!

Edit: I didn’t mention anything about internships here. However, in order to become truly good at your discipline, it takes practice; and internships is a good way to get this. Check out more information about internships.

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