ESS 303: Transitioning to Berkeley Engineering, First-Year Experience
This week on the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer podcast we are splitting in two: first-year and transfer student experiences of transferring to UC Berkeley and becoming Berkeley Engineers. Up first are two Berkeley Engineering students that just finished their freshman year. Alexandro Garcia, Civil & Environmental Engineering major, and Natalie Celt, Bioengineering major, share their experiences of choosing courses, learning the difference between high school/college studying, and creating a home away from home. If you have more questions for Alex and Natalie, send an email to ESS and we’ll pass it on.
Links that Natalie & Alex suggest you check out:
- Learn more about classes: guide.berkeley.edu and classes.berkeley.edu
- Check out your degree worksheet
- Make an appointment with your ESS adviser
LAURA VOGT: Hi my name is Laura Vogt and I’m the Communications and Events Manager for Engineering Student Services in the College of Engineering. Thank you for joining us this week for The (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. This week we are focusing on the first semester experience and breaking the podcast into two parts – freshmen and transfer. My guests today just finished their first year at Cal, Natalie and Alex, welcome to the podcast! Let’s start off with introductions, Natalie, tell us a little about yourself and what you are studying.
NATALIE CELT: So I’m a first year are now rising second year bioengineering student at Berkeley and I’m pretty interested in selling tissue engineering. That’s one of the concentrations within biology.
LV: and Alex finding you tell us more about yourself.
ALEXANDRO GARCIA: OK. So my full name is Alexandro. We’ve just got Alex for short because it’s not that much confusion with it. So I’m currently going to be a rising second year studying civil engineering things I’m focusing on or more says upon the stability and hydrology part of civil engineering.
So there’s a lot of professors who have a lot of research in that and that’s what I’m trying to get involved in here and hopefully get into a master’s program where I can fully put myself pull myself in that environment where I can make a difference in society.
LV: Excellent. Well thank you both so much for being here today. I’ve got just a big list of questions that I kind of want to talk about your first year experience really focusing on that first semester and even a little bit of what you did to get ready when you came here. So what do you remember about choosing that first semester schedule?
NC: All right. So I was really confused. The classes were indicated by numbers you’d have like math one a math one B can one a. Now I don’t know. These classes are. And so the best way to go about that I just went to like the Berkeley course catalog or you could go to the Berkeley engineering Website. That’s a great resource. And basically you pick out if you’re whatever major you are a civil engineer, bio engineer, or even undeclared they have a recommended course guideline for you. And from there you can basically pick and choose which classes you might think would be best for you to take in that semester. You don’t have to follow it strictly but it is a good guideline just to get your feet on the ground and see where you’re at. Definitely a tricky part a lot of contention comes in deciding a math class as Alex could probably agree with the math 1A math 1B that’s the introductory calculus used if you have AP credits you can go about skipping out of those classes but a lot of students debate whether they should do that depending on how long ago they last had calculus. So that’s honestly a question that is very personal to a student. You’d go on college confidential Berkeley Reddit. But It all comes down to your own experience.
AG: Yeah. So for me one of the biggest struggles is figuring out how to enjoy myself during the first semester but also be on track to graduate on time. So I had to figure out how many technical classes which are the classes you need to take for graduation. So it’s like math sciences and all. But also got great help from the advisors here at the ESS. When we do have the engineering advisory they do send us an e-mail and do advise that we don’t have to always follow the curriculum like Natalie said. There’s a lot of loopholes that you can do and a lot of time but there is where you can just I can add an extra class here here here and I’ll be OK. But I was also in the situation when I was talking about having AP credits for math. So from my personal experience I took AB and BC so I had two years of calculus in high school and taking that over and over I felt very comfortable with the math 1A equivalent material. So I felt that I was ready to go into math 1B but that’s like on my personal behalf and how I felt. But that’s like what I would recommend. If you feel really good about it and they have these things where you can check out the tests, the exams, and see if you can answer some of it. Because of course we know like high school and college they don’t really equivalent to one another because you come from a high school that doesn’t have a lot of APs and come to Berkeley you’re just like oh my god that’s so different. But if you can at least attempt it and like at least figure out ways of solving it and maybe get close to it then I feel like you’re comfortable enough with the subject to maybe you go ahead but it’s all based off like when Natali said your own personal preferences and how you think you can handle the classes.
LV: So I like that you’re telling folks don’t worry about if somebody’s telling you well you took your AP class you should definitely go up higher. You should take the time to look at what do and what you’re comfortable with.
AG: Yeah of course of course.
LV: And do you have any tips for choosing those classes? So if you’re having to choose like an R one B class or an R one a class how do you actually choose which classes you want to take in like 27 different majors across the campus?
AG: One of the things is if you’re going to go for engineers specific especially like we already have our courses like designated. So you have to take Math 1A, Math 1B and all these different courses. So personal recommendations always use rate my professor and Berkeley time. OK. These are very like essential tools to figure out what classes and what professors you want. I used it a bunch of times to figure out how difficult is this class, how difficult is the professor and it’s figuring out ways of how I can maximize my potential getting a good grade and also having a great teacher. So there’s a couple of things that you have to think about when you’re trying to choose your classes.
NC: Yeah and I would definitely emphasize that for the R1A and R1B classes since you want to be comfortable with that class so you want to do a topic that you’re interested in. So when you are choosing those classes they are a lot of descriptions so you could see what the topic or theme is about. You can also check that out on Berkeley catalog courses. And so yeah definitely check out Berkeley time and then rate my professors for those because want to get stuck in a class or writing 10 page papers every other week because you will be busy with technical courses. So I made sure that I find a class that I would be enjoying and also not spending the majority of my time reading and writing.
LV: The students right now are all going through the Golden Bear advising which I know both of you went through last year and one of the things that we try to talk about over and over again is having backup classes. So when it came time for you to do your registration did you have those backup classes and did it come in handy?
AG:Of course. You need to understand that when you go into college there’s a lot of things that can go against you and especially as registration times there have been instances that happened last summer where it crashed.
LV: Oh that’s right.
AG: So the server crashed so you couldn’t choose your classes. I was blessed that I already had the tab open so I didn’t really have to like worry about it crashing but I know for other people they had to really just like “oh my whole schedule changed” so it’s always good to have a backup schedule. That’s because like with Berkeley time you also have like an enrollment catalog and seeing how many people are actually enrolling in the class to see if you actually have a chance of getting into the classes. And also like it says this is for freshman students, this is for a continuation students, those are good indicators of how popular the classes are and how fast it goes up in the class. So those are great indicators it’s like OK I need to choose this class but I have to have this backup class because there’s going to be space in it.
So do you made sure as you were going through then and have that extra set of classes just in case?
AG: Yeah. Because you have to you always have to be like cognisant of like things not going your way
LV: What was registration day like outside of that server crashing? Do you remember what was going or what feelings that you had?
NC: I made a mistake and I scheduled my DMV driver’s test like a couple hours before that. And if you guys know the DMV doesn’t always go according to plan. So my driving test got like postponed like an hour and I was freaking out because I had to rush back home. Not only did I have the stress of like passing a driver’s test but I had to go back home to make sure I got all my classes so big suggestion.. do not schedule things like a doctor’s appointment a DMV test or anything of that sorts before your registration because you want to have all your attention all your focus on that day and time.
LV: That’s a really good tip.
AG: That’s a lot more intense than mine was. I was just chilling on a couch. That’s exactly why you just make sure that the classes that you want are still open when you can get them.
Like you said earlier like you always have to be ready like what an hour before. Even now. It’s like second years we had to choose our classes. Some of us were blessed enough to have a great schedule time. So you just have to be ready for if anything happens so what your backup is.
Oh OK. It might be hard this time it is hard for a couple of semesters it’s not…
AG: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like all the upperclassmen have the upper hand so you can’t really like if you want a class that’s like there’s a certain class like a lot of like the HSS courses which are the social sciences and history for people who don’t know a lot of those classes that are very interesting and maybe fairly easier than some classes are those classes get taken up very fast because people are trying to fill up “oh I need to fill this requirement for the breadth”. Like you’re not only competing with people who are in the College of Engineering for enrolments but you’re competing people outside of the college engineering. I remember there’s thirty two thousand students in this campus. So you really can be like Oh people wait wait for me to get my classes.
LV: One of the things that we have a lot of people ask questions about is the swap function. Have you used the swap function?
AG: Many times many many times.
LV: What do you find it the most useful for?
AG: Well one of the central things like figuring out like What fits in your schedule because a lot of us have a lot of outside activity we want to do and also figure out what’s the best days to have them because for me I currently switch one of my classes I swapped it because a lot more of my friends were in the class. So that’s the kind of one thing you should maybe consider as well because having people you already know in the class that you can study with are great ways of being prepared for the class. So I say if you can come to a class because you’re sick you have people who can help you out. OK. So yeah and like people study people study mates a lot of things that can happen and like throughout the semester and having a great group of friends who can help you out is a great way of like utilizing the tools and the abilities you have in campus. That’s like using the swap function I can allow allow myself to like “oh no one’s in this section but I kind of I really want to get help in this type of topic. OK. I know some friends in that that discussion section that lecture I can maybe go to and ask them questions.
NC: Yes so instead of dropping that course and risking someone else taking your spot you’re just swapping the section and it’s like an easy safe way of ensuring you get that topic
LV: Oh great. So you don’t end up with no class at all.
NC: Exactly. Yeah.
LV: It’s always a good thing. We always want you in the class. And so once you did your registration what did you have to do for the rest of the summer? What were things that you had done? Did you have to keep going back and checking in or were you still investigating other classes that you wanted to register in?
NC: I pretty much stuck with what I had, however, I did keep researching different R1 B courses but I did end up staying with whatever I had.
LV: Yeah okay.
AG:Yeah. I just had to make sure like if I wanted to do extra classes I had to know what class I wanted to do. so for my freshman registration I had a schedule that I wanted to do and the advisor was like “No don’t do that. That’s too much for you for your first semester”. And so I had to re-evaluate and I had to keep thinking of a schedule that not only fit my current schedule has and like all my classes but also like if you have to work the first semester and the second semester to pay for school. So figuring out ways of like having bubbles where you can have time to study work and doing things of that nature so you can maximize all your time.
LV: So that kind of leads us really well into my time management question that I had for you. How much has your time management changed from when you were in high school to the coming year?
NC: It’s kind of interesting because in high school I was really booked hour to hour sports, band, classes of course. So that was just like I had a very sturdy schedule whereas when I came into college a lot of that changed I didn’t have sports anymore I didn’t have all these extracurriculars I just had class because we didn’t join any clubs yet. First week we’re just doing our thing. So I think it was kind of tripped me up in a sense is the fact that I didn’t have a lot of things that a lot of free time and that’s where your discipline comes in. You have to make sure you’re getting you’re staying on top of your classes. You might not even always have homework because in a lot of these technical courses you’re just filling in like you’re studying nonstop. You always have your midterms like every two to three weeks.
LV: Midterm is the greatest misnomer. It’s not just a midterm.
AG: So they call it a midterm but like they’re not really midterms because midterm means in the middle. But you have two midterm that’s what they call it. So all we have to go with. So you have every five weeks so after the first five weeks you have a midterm second five weeks you have midterm then you have the final. Yeah some classes have three like chemistry
NC: So yeah. That’s also you have to be cognizant that because you do only five weeks or you have five weeks in between the midterms and so you could get ahead of yourself be like “Oh no I’m fine I have five weeks to study for this” but then a week before the exam you like I only have a week to study for this and you start freaking out because you had all this free time before learning from experience. So. Just making sure you have a calendar writing these things down. I honestly also highly recommend making a college schedule before even starting school. Just have like is going to change for sure but just having these my classes there at this time I’m going to go to bed at this time and then work out at this time. If you just have that in your in your brain you’re thinking about it. It’s to be way easier to stick with it than trying to like cram it in trying to create a schedule midway through semester when you’re ready like on stressing out about midterms and such.
AG: Yes time management. Like I said my schedules back then I try to take the bus to school so I wake up at six o’clock and I get home at 8 p.m. so I had like a tutoring thing I used to do. So I had to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m I was busy. So back in high school we have like the ability to use intelligence as a way of just like getting through our coursework. But now when you come to Berkeley Berkeley isn’t about intelligence. It’s about hard work. How much work you can put in each of these classes and use your intelligence to maximize, so you can do the best you can in each class. So for me, one of the first things I had to do was I had a set time for myself to like just study and do homework because the best thing to do is be ahead. You always want to be ahead because if you just something happens at least you’ll be on like everybody else and not like behind because of people I’ve heard l my friends and other people around but they fall behind because something happens and “oh I didn’t do this I didn’t do that so now I have to catch up” and overstress themselves. But if you have a lot of free time like you have to maximize it. So working out that’s a great way of just relieving yourself of the stresses of college or you find other different types of media to like do that. So like dance there’s like a lot of dance teams that are RSF there’s a lot of different things that you could do that help you feel better.
LV: We want to be mindful.
AG: Yeah you want to be mindful of you like yourself. Like that’s one thing that you always have to consider is like not just like “oh how can I do good in school” but also how can you do better for yourself. Yeah like last semester I will be completely honest I really did not care too much about myself. I really cared about my classes and my work and everything else. So I didn’t take care of myself the way I should. Okay. And that’s like one of the tales that you have to understand is like you might think you can do all this but what do you have to sacrifice for that. Do you want to sacrifice yourself or you want to sacrifice I don’t have take this class right now because it’s like it’s like I’m just trying to get ahead but you don’t have to get ahead. you can be on time with everybody. There’s nothing wrong with being with everybody else. But yeah like how I said earlier you need to make time for yourself make time to study and also make time for friends because this is like the first semester and you need to figure out a way of like building your network so your network is like your group of friends who you want to be like going to have lifelong friendships with them. So if you don’t spend time with different people and it’s like I’ll have this this this this and like be solitary like that’s like not acknowledge people you’re going to lose lose advocates who are going to advocate for you people are going to like hey you help me help I can help you out. people who can bring you up with you might feel down. So the first semester very tricky but you have to figure out ways of just maximizing your time to do what’s best for you like personally, mentally and even socially.
LV: And how did you handle the transition of moving from your parents house to living by yourself in a dorm? And what suggestions would you have for other folks how to make that transition smoother?
AG: So the first thing was. OK. So I am back in high school I did like a lot of like one week camping trips. So it’s kind of just like OK I had like all the way from my parents for a week and I would come back. So it’s kind of like an extended like trip. But I got when I dropped off my parents I guess one of those heart wrenching things you like oh like parents like go cry please. But I think the first thing is like also like you want to get accustomed like the people are going to be around because people like your family members you’re around them all the time when you’re at home when you go to sleep when you wake up you you’re going to see a family member. Mm hmm. And coming to college that you’re going to me like you’re going to have roommates. So having a good relationship with your roommates can help you develop like a second family. And also having different organizations that support you maybe from a cultural standpoint from an I’d like an ideal standpoint those type of clubs that can help you feel like you’re part of something that helps you bridge that gap between having like your actual biological family to like a family of friends who you feel so close with that you don’t want to give up. So it’s even harder to leave Berkeley and trying to go home.
NC: So I had a situation where I was rooming with my best friend from high school and then a third roommate was paired with us. So that really helped me not everyone has that ideal situation or they can’t room with their friends but if you don’t have a situation make a friend out of your roommate like you come home every day after a stressful day back home you would talk to your mom you talk to your dad but here you’ve got no one else but you have your roommates and you have your hallmates. So you want to optimize the happiness that you can experience and get to know your roommates don’t be afraid to reach out everyone everyone is shy are like everyone is trying to make friends . So just go out reach out make friends introduce yourself that way when you’re in the bathroom you could be like Hey what’s up what class are you taking. And that can take off they can introduce you to a different club and it’s just like a beautiful like chain reaction that can occur just from introducing yourself so don’t hesitate to reach out and don’t be afraid to like go to the socials at your home we have this really great opportunities to get to know the people in your Major and also yeah common activities
AGL Yeah that’s one of the big fallacies that people come in like don’t make friends.
That’s kind of a lie. If you’re incoming freshmen living in the dorm so you’re going to have something called GBO Golden Bear orientation that happens right before school starts. So you can not only get us to have a group of people with you to begin with which about like 50 students Yeah. And one group depending on what door what dorm you live in so you can make friends there your hallmates your roommates. There are so many opportunities for you to make friends and then things that happen at Sproul Plaza. when they have Calapalooza when you have a lot of different clubs. Well people want to be your friend they want to have you be there support supporting them but also like so they can try to support you. So don’t think of coming to Berkeley as like “oh look at this place, it’s boring, it’s like desolate”. No it’s a live vivid place next to San Francisco one of the greatest cities in the nation. So you’re in a good spot to meet a lot of interesting people who are gonna make you feel at home.
LV: Did either of you start study groups or use the tutoring services that we have available here at the beginning of the semester.
AG: I would ask like an occasional question. Sometimes I had the mentality that I could do it on my own. So sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes a little too much but then you just like when you get hit with reality when you have your quizzes that you just don’t really do well on . But like I have used like the services at the ESS or the CAEE to be specific and ask like “hey I need some help. I don’t really get this question”. And the tutors aren’t gonna give you the answers they’re going to give you the ways of how to solve the question. The tools the tools. Yeah. Because anybody can tell how to tell you how to solve this question. like oh here’s the answer. But like someone please explain the topic and like how to like help you get through it. And so just like oh you just do this, this, this is more useful.
NC:No I completely agree with Alex and the do it yourself mentality. That’s a big mistake actually coming into Berkeley was like “oh I could do it myself that’s what I did in high school I didn’t depend on my peers to help me through classes. I just had to work a little harder and I’d be able to understand a youtube video here and there. But in Berkeley it really did change because I realized that a little too late. But I can’t do it on my own. Especially as an engineer as an engineer you’re surrounded by community you can build a building by yourself. So you just really have to get used to working with other people. But what I would recommend if you are someone who does like doing something on their own I would definitely recommend being familiar with a concept or being really good at explaining something that way when you are in a study group you could be the one teaching it or that’s like the best way to learn Alex could probably attest to. He’s a pretty good tutor but yeah I just like being able to explain to someone or being able to engage in a study group. That’s also something I was always afraid of like I want to be able to contribute necessarily because I’ve been behind I wouldn’t have been familiar with the lessons so I can’t necessarily contribute as much because I didn’t do the necessary reading. So it just makes you’re like really put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to go to office hours meet your professors. That also makes the Berkeley community a lot smaller when the people who are up there and those big lecture halls. But I personally like that makes it so much more intimate and like so much like a high school experience where you have a small classroom setting and you’re not gonna have that here necessarily but if you do take that time to get to know your professor your classmates it does become way simpler and that also aids in the transition.
AG: There’s a lot of interesting characters that are Professors. We think of professors as these big scary individuals who are so accomplished but they’re just human beings some professors like the civil engineer department Professor Horvath he’s amazing he’s done a lot in his career but he’s just a generally funny guy like he likes to have fun. probably Alexander Pollin like math professor he’s had so much fun teaching yeah like they want to meet you they want to talk to you so that they have there’s a real give a little bit of intimidation to students but once you’re able to break that barrier there just going to be themselves like they’re a great person.
AC: Professors get lonely too.
LV: Yeah I know if you ever want to get them to talk, ask them about their research.
We’ve talked a little about student organizations, but what student organizations are you’re involved in, or competition teams?
AG: I was part of a couple during my first year, I did a lot. So , I might have done a lot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everybody else do a lot. So, I was a part of the Hispanic Engineers and Scientists which is a SHPE chapter, which is the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, right here on campus. I was a part of Hermanos Unidos, part of Cal Construction, the construction design team, and then I was part of CalEnviro, where we were filtering water out and figuring out how to make a good filter using things you could find around the house. And then I was a part of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
LV: You did a lot.
AG: Yeah, so , I might have done a lot, that’s cool and all, but also there’s a lot of things you have to do being a part of all those clubs and also trying to be an active member. So that’s like one little cautionary tale, like don’t try to do too much that’s out of your reach.But, that’s what I did during my first semester.
NC: As Marvin Lopez, the ESS Director of Programs, says under commit and over deliver. So try not to be part of too much, I think you would like you want to dip your toe into the different clubs, especially for a semester, like that it’s such a great resource and a way to make friends. And also just get a ton of resources, in terms of textbooks. people are passing on textbooks, they don’t even need them anymore. So making friends in these kinds of clubs, like I remember before my semester started, I looked up all the Berkeley clubs and organizations and I looked through the list of 2,000 clubs or so. And then I filtered them through like into sports, entertainment, dance teams, engineering teams. And so I narrowed it down to 20. And then, no I didn’t join all 20 of those clubs, but I already had an idea of what I wanted to be a part of coming in. So I joined the bioprinting club and then I joined a Biomedical Engineering Society and then I was also part of a church group. So that was a lot of fun and really helped me cultivate a family. I didn’t fully engage that first semester, was kind of this and also a little cautious but I just really wanted to make those friendships it’s really great to do that first semester just so we can already get the ball rolling. Get your foot in the door for potential the committee positions or something like that, being an officer. That way you’re already a step ahead of the game.
LV: And so you said you had investigated it ahead of time, just online. Did you go to any of that like the Calapalooza stuff that they do here or I know during GBO we have student organizations out for it specifically during our college of engineering day.
AG: Yeah, I attended most of those to go check everything out, but also a lot of fun recommendations. Organizations to join, not only for professional development but also for social development. Like people that are upperclassmen in my major, who are more aligned to what I think about because that’s when you come to college, and for me, my own experience, being Latino is kind of hard to see engineers here, because there’s not a lot of us. So joining HES, which is short for Hispanic Engineers and Scientists, I was able to meet other civil engineers who are also Latino. It was a great way of also bridging a gap between what I thought a civil engineer was, but what we actually are. We’re a diverse group of people, doing the same work, the same goal. That’s what I took from it.
LV: We talked a little bit about your ESS advisor. Have you had one on one appointment with your advisers to get advice on either schedule planning or time management or anything along those lines?
AG: In the first semester I was a little hesitant to go but the second semester I felt a lot more comfortable with where I was in the curriculum. And I thought, OK, I want to go talk to Catherine, the civil engineering adviser. And she told me a lot of things and from her own personal experiences being at Cal. So I was asking her about like the education minor. And she got education minor. She was able to give me some advice. And I had some ideas of what I wanted to do, get all these minors, but she was advising me that a minor really doesn’t mean as much as taking the courses and learning what you want to learn. So I had a lot of more of just like trying to now think of like oh my accomplishes but I think that I feel accomplished more by myself not like already like a little like a little sticker on my diploma to tell me that I did this. it’s the course I took that enrich my experience here.
LV: Okay. And did you meet with your adviser?
NC: Yes, so I met with Joey Wong, the bioengineering advisor. I met with him once. I actually was in correspondence with him before the first semester started. He was really good on emailing a student’s back about questions. I was really nervous and what causes should I take? Is this too hard? And he was like, No that’s fine, you’re gonna do great. And he’s just super supportive. And then when I met with him one on one before second semester started, he also confirmed that my second semester course load was good and that I was on track with graduation. So it’s just a very great comfort system. They’re very supportive, no matter who you have. Just another resource you have and should take advantage of.
AG: They really want to help you, that’s their job. They want to help you graduate, they want help you succeed. I know there’s this old stereotype that I think maybe it was started by Berkeley students, that you look to the left or right and one of you won’t be here. That’s an old, old stereotype. But we’re transitioning from that phase of cutthroat competitiveness, to wanting to see everybody succeed. Everybody has the potential to change society the way they want to do it. So these advisors, the tutors, your fellow students, they really want to help you out. You should take advantage of everything they have here. Engineers are very privileged on this campus. Just to let , if you come to ESS, you will get free fruit, you will get advising, tutoring..
NC: free pens, free shirts…
AG: So many events they hold here, they’re just giving you a lot. So you should take advantage of everything and you need to feel comfortable asking people for advice because that is like the biggest thing. Don’t ever think that you can’t do it, because people here believe you can do it. You have the ability to do anything you want, but it’s your drive and willingness to put in that effort. These advisers will you straight – what are you doing? Like what are you doing? Your k fellow peers will tell you the same thing, because they all want to see you succeed. They don’t want to see you lollygag…
NC: keep you accountable…
AG: Yes, keep you accountable.
LV: The other part of Engineering Student Services is we have a lot of programs for our students that include workshops. Did you have a chance to do any of the workshops that we offered this year?
AG: Oh yeah, they had the Cupcakes and Headshots, that’s really good because they give you some advice on how to market yourself. There was a LinkedIn event beforehand. If you don’t know LinkedIn, it is a professional Facebook, where you tell people what you’re doing but in a very professional way. Like if you’re gonna go volunteer, you maybe post a picture on there and show that you’re busy and doing stuff. And then the Cupcakes & Headshots, where you get a headshot for LinkedIn and then to be rewarded you get a cupcake. And there is a graduate workshop they had.
LV: Oh yeah. We talk about it if you’re thinking about going to grad school had to make sure you’re on track for that.
AG: There’s like all these like little things that just happen around Bechtel and ESS that you can be a part of. You can walk in and they’ll accept you with open arms and say sit down, and you can enjoy what you’re going to learn. You should RSVP of course if there’s an event and about it, but you can just walk into an event and not be kicked out.
LV: What’s the best way to learn about the events?
AG: We do have the website…
LV: Newsletter, talk about the newsletter…
NC: Yes, the newsletter is the best way. Every week basically they send you a synopsis of all the events that are gonna be happening in the following week. Whenever I see something that interests me, I put it in my Google calendar right away because I don’t want to forget. We actually forget that we have so many things on our heads so definitely to put that into your calendars because there’s incredible events, speakers, workshops are going to happen and a lot of times a book. Oh it’s all right. I have to go to that. I didn’t feel like going but I really pushed myself to go on I just learned so much that like help me find some things to do for the summer or get a job just like really really great way to stay active.
AG: Also, check the bulletin board in the ESS, there are some things in there where you really look at it like I don’t think about that. I didn’t know about that. So you just go to the events. Yeah and maybe if you’re lucky you can get an internship, research opportunity. there’s a lot of things that you can do. One little thing you see you can make a lot out of it like at least I like you can if you keep yourself accountable – look I want to go to this event because I’m really passionate about it. that passion that you showed to like someone who is in that field could lead you to something bigger than this like oh just talking to someone but actually maybe getting some actual work involved with them.
LV: In the newsletter we’ve got things, not only the events that we put on here in the office but we’ve got company info sessions, we actually have job postings and internship postings. If you had to talk to anyone who was going to be starting in August, do you have any tips for them of what they should do this summer to make sure they’re ready to go when they get here?
NC: Well, first of all congratulations and enjoy your time after high school its the beautiful honeymoon period, I like to call it. The time between high school and college where we don’t have any summer readings, you don’t have any assignments. You might be working but first of all pat yourself on the back, enjoy your time off but then once you get to like mid-July you want to start brushing up on your math skills. Check out what you might be rusty on because that once again will help you as we mentioned earlier decide what math class would be best for you. The sooner what you don’t know is amazing. You want to be on top of things. You don’t necessarily have to learn an entire semester’s worth of math or CS but definitely just like look at the classes you’ll be taking. And then watch YouTube videos, get your hands on it because once this school year starts, it does not stop. And so the more you do now, this summer, you’re going to love yourself. Do something to improve your future self, for sure.
AG: So, to reiterate what Natalie said, congratulations on graduating from high school and getting accepted to Berkeley, College of Engineering. So one thing you should do is listen to this podcast, that will help out a lot. But other things you should really consider is things that will make your life a lot easier. So if you’re having financial problems look for a lot of scholarships, do things that will help make your time easier. So you don’t have to worry about finances and worry about money and you can get things paid for by doing scholarships, my friend says it might take four hours to complete a scholarship but it’s worth a thousand dollars. That’s two hundred fifty dollars an hour. You just got a thousand dollars for doing four hours of work.
LV: That’s an awesome way to look at it.
AG: So just try to do a little thing like that. Brush up on what you don’t know. The more you know what you don’t know, the better you can be prepared. If you are blessed enough to have friends who are actually on campus, may have similar measures taking the classes, maybe you can ask them for like previous notes, things that they could advise you on. Try to figure out ways of setting this up for success. And if you can come to campus, maybe checkout some resources, like go to EOP, just do things around the campus. If you’re going to be around, to try to find ways to just maximizing your free time because we’re all free during the summer. Well if you’re not, coming from out of high school, if you have an internship or doing community college classes, you guys are doing good too. But people who are not still have a chance to do a lot. So you use that time. And enjoy your family while you’re still you’re still around.
LV: All right. So we want to wrap this up, is there any last point that you wanted to make sure that you said or we haven’t had a chance? Is there another thought that came to mind that you haven’t said yet?
AG: One thing I probably would say is, don’t try to limit yourself when you come here.
AG: If people are forcing you to do something, that is your right to say no. But if it’s something you want to do but you’re saying no because you don’t believe in yourself or you’re hesitating because for no assertive reason, say yes, because there’s some things that you just don’t know what’s going to happen. So let’s say people want to invite you go get food. Maybe you’ll meet the love of your life or something. Who knows? Berkeley and this college in general is a great way of exploring the surroundings but also decide who you want to be when you become a professional. I stopped saying no because the more times I’ve said no, the less opportunities I’ve had to say yes. So if you don’t have the opportunity say yes because you keep shutting them down, then what happens if one of them was the right one for you? You just have to think about what’s going to be in your best interest.
NC: Yeah, definitely don’t count yourself out as Alex said. You’re coming into Berkeley for a reason. The admissions staff went through rigorous hours selecting the prime individuals to join our engineering community. So times are gonna get tough, not gonna lie, but that’s who you are made up your made. you could get through this you can get through anything. And so just enjoy the moment, enjoy every late night. You might not enjoy the moment but sooner or later these years are really going to go by fast. This first year, Alex can agree with me, it went by in a blur. So just make the most out of every opportunity and take care of yourself.
AG: Also, the first semester was the semester that a lot of things happen.
AG: …because not only football season, there is a lot of things that just happen and you should just be aware that things are going to distract you. So there’s sometimes where you can allow distractions to distract you, sometimes you can’t. So there’s knowing that difference. Then if people invite you to go out, go out with them if you have time. You could already be ahead but if you have a four page paper due tomorrow and it’s like 10 o’clock at night and its due at 8am, you should probably not go out, just moderation. Think about yourself when you want to do things but also just like advise in the best interest of yourself.
LV: That sounds awesome, I really agree. Those a really good notes on things to think of for students when they start here. Thank you both so much for coming today. You have been absolutely amazing and I appreciate your time and Alex I know you flew up here for m. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And thank you everyone for tuning in today to the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineering and we’ll be back here next week. Thank you.