Choosing Your First Semester Classes

Welcome incoming freshmen! Good to see that you’ve chosen UC Berkeley as the school of your choice, and good to see you’re interested in Haas.

A very common question I’ve received from students lately is how to choose your first semester schedule at Cal, and it’s amazing I haven’t written about it before; so here goes!

In a nutshell, I suggest you take these classes your first semester:

  • Math
  • R&C or fun / breadth / pre-req
  • fun / breadth / pre-req
  • fun / breadth / pre-req

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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.

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Beginning of Another Semester – Regrets and Learnings

In a couple of days, one more semester will start, leading to another semester of accomplishments and mistakes, happiness and sorrows, love and heartbreak. I know I’m looking forward to it! (Not being sarcastic here, I swear)

When the semester ended, I had talked with a couple of freshmen who were anxious and disappointed of how their first semester at Cal turned out. Some didn’t get the grades they wanted. Some decided to switch majors halfway through. Some didn’t find where they belonged.

When I completed my first semester, I pretty much embodied all of these problems. I didn’t meet what I thought would be a “core” group of friends. I thought getting anything below a 4.0 was a terrible GPA (that high school mentality showing). I didn’t really like business or linguistics. I stayed in my dorm a lot, my floor wasn’t social, I didn’t get along with my roommate, and didn’t enjoy my extracurriculars of that semester. I didn’t like what I was doing, didn’t have direction, and didn’t feel like I belonged.

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Identity and Business

Before you say anything: it’s okay to have opinions. It’s okay to change direction. You have four years to ponder the life that you will be living.

When I finally thought about college, it was the summer right before my senior year of high school. I had many interests, but I had to write down a list of all the majors I was going to consider; and boy was it a hefty one! Things like foreign language, design, neuroscience, and pharmacy were on all that list. Eventually, it came down to business and translation; the latter of which was my primary interest at the time. I thought about business primarily because my mother suggested it. I know, I should follow my own dreams and not my parents’. But I wanted to remain open to all possible paths, so I considered the idea. I eventually applied and chose Berkeley because of their business program in addition to its strengths in nearly every other program. I figured that if I changed my mind, Cal would have something else for me.

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Starting Off Your First Semester

Tomorrow is the big day! Congratulations to all UC Berkeley Freshmen: you have made it. And finally, tomorrow you will begin your journey into UC Berkeley. I share with you a word of advice from a previous freshman, regardless of whether you are trying out for Haas or not. Good luck tomorrow, you deserve all the best!

Attend as many events as possible.

Freshman year is the time to explore! Attend as many info sessions to organizations that you can stuff into Welcome Week; audition, interview, socialize. It’s a great way to find out where you fit in at Berkeley, and meet interesting people.

Start something new. Create.

You’re here at one of the best educational institutions in the world! Make your mark, and show the world what you can do.

Check your emails. Frequently.

Your professors, student organizations, and potential employers all use email, and this will be your primary point of contact. You’ll know whether your class is cancelled, see midterm reminders, check out the next event, and know whether you’re interning for a company. Super important; you don’t want to show up to something and realize you’re late, or you’re not supposed to be there.

Don’t purposely miss class in the first couple of weeks.

Professors have the power to drop you from a class if you don’t show up; this includes if you’re on the waitlist. Ensure your position by going to class and participating. If you’re on the waitlist, make sure you go; you have a chance to enroll!

Sometimes, section is more important than lecture.

Section (discussions or labs) gives you the chance to solidify the material you learn in lecture in a smaller setting. This also means participation becomes pretty important, and can make a whole letter grade of a difference.

Get to know your professors, GSIs, and TAs.

On an academic level, they will help you understand concepts that are still unclear to you. On a personal level, these people are overflowing with experience and knowledge; their insight will always be good insight. On a grading level, knowing your professor or GSI puts a semester of activity to a face, which may bump you up to the next letter. Go to office hours! It won’t hurt, only help; no matter the reason.

Know your syllabi inside and out.

If you can’t remember it, write it all down! I have a calendar where I compile all my class syllabi into one, so I know what I have to get done by which day. It’s quite helpful for me, and it’s always nice when you can look at something and be able to cross it off from that giant to-do list. This isn’t high school, no professor is going to remind you all the time when assignments are due, and they aren’t going to be forgiving if you turn in something late. Make sure you’re on top of it.

Focus on your priorities.

Everyone’s priorities are different in college. For some, college is a stepping stone into the next thing: job, graduate school, medical school. For others, it’s a way to learn interesting subjects. For even more, it’s an opportunity to explore and meet new people. While the purpose of a college education may be the courses itself; remember that education is holistic as well. Knowledge may be what one derives from courses, but mentality and strong bonds can only be formed amongst people. Make sure you set some time for them. Also make sure you spend time on your important classes! With good time management, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too. Practice it here, in your first semester.

Get to know your floor.

One of my biggest regrets as a freshman was not taking the time to get social in my dorm. Doesn’t really help that I was in a mini-suite, but regardless; make sure you find people you can connect with.

You’re going to make bad decisions. Don’t let it get to you.

Whether it’s drinking the night before a midterm, screwing up on an important test question, forgetting to write a whole paper the day before it’s due, receiving a C in an important course, getting Asian Ghetto at 2 in the morning and gaining freshman 15 in one night; whatever. We all have the little things that we regret, everyone makes mistakes. What’s more important than dwelling on the past is how you deal with it in the future, and learning from the experience.

Have fun!

Of course, what a cliche way to end a post. But there’s a reason why people say that college will be the best four years of your life! You have so much opportunity to try new things, meet the most people, learn anything and everything, and figure out your future. Make the most of it!

Good luck class of 2018! If that 6.0 earthquake didn’t set you off with a bang, then I don’t know what did. You’re going to be great.

Tips for Internships

Internships is somewhat of a craze nowadays. It seems like you need to have an internship to get even an entry-level job after graduation. While it’s not necessary to get one to apply to Haas, I believe it’s still important to think about even as an underclassmen.

Interning is one of the only ways you can receive direct exposure in a particular field. Putting it another way, it’s the only way you can determine whether a particular career is right for you. Classes give you the background behind it; internships give you the application of that knowledge. If you already have a career path in mind, internships can either solidify or question your intentions, which in my mind, are both important inquiries to have. Think about applying for them when you have that direction. Only when you have obtained job experience will you be able to determine whether you should pursue the field or change pursuits.

I’ve held many internships throughout my lifetime. I was a Fashion Marketing Intern at Shop.Share.Love! in Summer 2012. In Spring 2013, I was a Music Management Intern at Ineffable Music Group. I went to Shanghai, China and was an Intern at the Shanghai Academic Services Center in Summer 2013. That fall, I stayed local and interned in Internet Marketing for Go Overseas within Berkeley’s own start-up incubator at Skydeck. Finally, in Summer 2014, I worked (intern is what they like to call it colloquially since I’m the only college student, but I am indeed an employee) at Intera Growth Partners as a technical recruiter and office manager, where I will continue to be in Fall 2014.

As such, I have a lot of experience with how to find them. And what you should get out of them.

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Haas Specializations

While Haas only has one major, Business Administration, students can still choose to specialize in their own time. According to Haas Employment information in the Berkeley Career Center, students go into consulting, investment banking, accounting, marketing, and financial and business analysis. If you check out the employment reports on that page, it gives you a consolidated view of the career paths of the Haas respondees.

With any career path, it is best to do three different things: obtain knowledge, get involved, and gain experience. You’ll need to know the rhetoric and jargon, and the best way to do that is to take classes (and focus) in that particular field. To get involved, there are plenty of other students who have paved that way for you in the form of organizations, so all you have to do is join and obtain hands-on experience. Obtaining internships is also another way have direct experience in employment.

Below, I have outlined different career paths, and show some classes and organizations that provide more knowledge and experience about the different areas.

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