5 activities during your college breaks

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As a Cal student, I countdown the days until the next spring or winter break. After weeks of rigorous school work, sometimes career exploration gets pushed off to the side; however, apart from sleeping in, Netflix binge watching or catching up on school work, I have learned to take advantage of many opportunities during breaks. I have listed five great activities that can also help you with career exploration.

  1. Update your Resume or Linkedin

I like to view a resume as an ongoing career project. During a break from school, crafting or updating a resume is the perfect activity. Then during some downtime your resume can be transferred over to your Linkedin. A school break makes the perfect time to work on your resume because you have time to reflect on work experiences without thinking about assignments or studying for a midterm. Updating your resume is fun and easy. Just add work descriptions with the examples on our Job and Internship guide. https://career.berkeley.edu/Guide/Guide

  1. Volunteer!

Volunteering may seem like free work, and it is. However, volunteering has its benefits. You can gain a lot from volunteering as it provides an opportunity to grow at a personal level. You can make a positive impact, whether you choose to volunteer for a summer camp, a leadership program, or other opportunities. Explore different work environments, while at the same time explore different career paths. Afterall, volunteering not only can help you build up your resume, but also can benefit you by creating more connections and opening possible job opportunities.

  1. Sign Up for University Sponsored Programs

Many university campuses offer programs during breaks available to all students. These programs can include externships, public service trips, or even just company trips and tours. These opportunities can help you get a sense of different career paths, career environments, and these can help you learn from workers and employers while making connections. You may even gain a mentor from this experience.

  1. Create a Handshake Account

A break between semesters is a great time to work on your Handshake account and take a look at any job or internship listings. Filter through the many career options and you can narrow job postings that fit your interest. You can apply directly to job listings while browsing through Handshake. You might just find your next job or internship!

  1. Attend Career Center Events

Take the time to see the upcoming events at the career center calendar through your Handshake account. You may just feel overwhelmed at all of the different events, which include, job fairs, career related workshops, mock interview events, employer resume critiques, etc., which is okay. However, it might be helpful to take the time to view at the upcoming events and register for the events that grab your attention. Take advantage of these events while you are still at Cal!


Help!! What Do I Do With My Life??


It’s a question that we all inevitably ask ourselves sometime throughout our college careers. We go through our day to day routine, class after class, semester after semester, putting an insane amount of pressure on ourselves to succeed when often times, we might not know what or where the destination is. I can definitely say that I’ve had my fair share of doubts after a midterm or an essay where I questioned whether or not this would all matter 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the line. The truth is, I’m not sure if it will matter. What I do know from working at the Career Center, however, is that if you asked the employers and recruiters at Google, Apple, Goldman Sachs, Spotify, or any other big name company out there if they knew that they would be where they are now when they were in their early 20s, then 9 times out of 10 they’ll say they had no clue.

In short, that’s the most important thing to remember: It’s okay to not have it all figured out and figuring it out is just a part of the college experience. Everyday we grow, mature, and learn more about what it is we want to spend our life doing, so take a deep breath and keep moving forward.

Now let’s take a minute to think about what exactly that “process” entails. Here are my steps to getting you closer to “figuring it out”.

  1. Experience. Experience. Experience.

Try as many new things as possible. Find internships, externships, shadow people in the field of interest, network, and get as much information and experience as you can to be able to comfortably decide whether or not that field is something worth pursuing. Just think about it, worst case scenario you end up spending a couple weeks doing something you don’t necessarily enjoy. That’s a much better option than spending the rest of your undergrad pursuing something that isn’t at all fulfilling in my estimation.

  1. Don’t be shy.

Use your network! LinkedIn has saved me countless times during my monthly existential crisis and has provided me with a network of strangers who are always willing to help someone who was once in their shoes.

  1. Remember that it’s okay!!

This is probably the hardest thing to do but the most important. Remember that you’re young and even though it seems like everyone around you might have it figured out, the truth is we all move through life at our own pace. Live at yours and #TrustTheProcess.

The Best (and Most Humbling) Career Advice I’ve Ever Received


If you are a college student, you know about high pressure, high stress, big decisions and no time to deal with any of these criterion all too well. While the stakes are ever rising, relax. Everyone at Cal is in the same boat, even if some pretend they’re not. Trying to navigate college while pursuing a professional life can be more than difficult, but with a little advice, you’ll have the confidence to keep moving forward.

When thinking about entering a field of choice come graduation, students immediately connect this to grades, references, experiences, and skills. While all of these factors definitely boost your chances of landing that dream job, there’s one thing that is often left out. As everyone pretends to have everything together, we often forget one simple thing: to slow down and ask for help. At Cal, it is normal for students to feel ashamed for not knowing, not having a plan, or not having everything together. I promise you that swallowing your pride and asking for help anywhere along your journey will get you further along than you’d imagine.

5 ways that asking for help can kickstart your career:

  1. Go to the Career Center regardless of where you are in your job search: talk to experts who are in contact with hiring managers, get your resume edited, practice an interview, practice using Handshake/LinkedIn, learn about different career fields, discuss your goals and develop a plan, attend events with recruiters, connect with peers in the same field, etc. etc. etc.. Get started here! →  Career Center Website

2. Letting your friends and family know you’re looking for help with the job search is a convenient way of informally networking! Not only will they be able to point you to resources that have helped them, they will also notify you of job openings, will keep a lookout, and may even be able to refer you. If they don’t know you’re seeking help, they won’t be able to help you.

3. Simply acknowledging that you need help is also impactful. Understanding you need extra support will automatically boost your energy to find resources and get your questions answered! You will start to keep a consistent lookout for resources and helpful information. Remind yourself that there are so many people who would simply love to help you, and other people who would love to help you and get paid to do it, so reach out!

4. Reach out to recruiters and employers! Although this may be nerve-racking for some people, asking recruiters/employers actually shows passion, engagement, and initiative among other great things! Ask an employer/alum for help on how to get where they are, how to become the best applicant, how to leverage yourself, and how to become the best reflection of their company. They will love the interest and also love reflecting on their own experience.

5. Connect and leverage Steps 1-4. Using multiple methods of asking for help will increase your chances of seeing good results. Stop, relax, breathe, get help. Do not try to navigate the job search alone.

ASK FOR HELP and good things will come your way.

Courtney Kirkland

Peer Advisor

Extra-curriculars – the Extra-boost to Resumes

extraIn my six months of advising my fellow undergraduates in building their resumes, I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve heard: “Oh, I’ve done_______ for so many years, so I just threw it under the Interests section in the bottom??” Okay, maybe not those exact words, but the same sentiment: people are afraid to show their interests on their resume. Honestly, I get it – why would an employer care about my hobbies? Don’t they want to read about my more relevant experiences?

In response to that second question, yes – your relevant experiences to whatever you’re applying for are definitely the most important part of your resume. However, in response to that first question – think about this. Every single applicant has relevant experiences and recruiters are going to keep seeing these similar skill-sets over and over, inundating your resume in a pool of forgetability. This is where your extra-curriculars can sneak in and help you float out of this pool by adding in a sense of your unique personality. Are you on a tap-dance team?  Have you been practicing archery since you were four years old? Did you find a community in a culture group on-campus? Do you volunteer at the local elderly home? Whatever it is that you do outside of your classes, jobs, or internships, there are always transferable skills that you can pull from this experiences and translate into the workplace. Furthermore, these experiences almost humanize you – they remind employers that you’re not just another job-seeker – you’re your own individual with fresh perspectives!

Questions you can ask yourself to help market your extra-curricular experience: how long have I been involved? Have I taken up any leadership positions? Was I ever in-charge of a project? How many people did I have to work with? Did I have to pay close to attention to detail? Did I have to use time-management to keep a balanced schedule? Using that archery example, what could you possibly market about shooting arrows? Skills that immediately come to mind – self-discipline needed to keep practicing all those years, attention-to-detail to ensure arrows were shot safely and accurate into the bullseye, mentorship of beginners, determination to enter competitions, and more. This example would definitely add qualifications for someone applying to any positions that require independent work, attention-to-detail, or working with others. Archery, in this case, could supplement any other relevant experience described while adding that personal flair and narrative that recruiters want to see.

Extra-curriculars thus can serve as modes of expressing soft skills like focus, motivation, commitment, helping others, and more! However, I know not everyone will immediately have an experience to add onto their resume or may not have been that involved. That’s okay – just don’t be afraid to get involved with something you enjoy because you don’t think it’ll add to your resume! Nearly any experience can become a marketable and worthwhile learning experience. There’s beauty in doing what you love and being you are – and there are jobs out there that want that beauty in their workplace!

How Dating is Like Recruiting

Why Dating Is Like Finding A Job


You have an online presence

Dating: It’s 2018. Let’s be honest, you have some sort of online presence that says “I’m single” if you’re looking. Whether its some casual fun on tinder, commitment on eHarmony, or in between like Facebook, people can find you. We’ve done this before. Have interest in someone, and with enough curiosity you find everything you need to know. You see your crush’s pictures of them hanging out with friends, working, or a picture of their dog Marley (Hey Marley). Before you even muster the chance to talk to them you already have a general idea of what to ask or how to approach them.

Recruiting: A potential candidate’s presence can be just as important as an in-person impression. A badass resume can provide links to the persons’ other parts of professional life (Linkedin, Twitter, Portfolio). You can see their interests, experience, and maybe a picture of their dog too (If that’s worth mentioning on a resume). From that you can see if they’re looking too!

I’m Different

Dating: You learn about your crush’s background. You learn about their past experiences. Maybe their EX hurt them in such a way that broke their heart. After hearing about this you go, “I’m not like them” and make sure to set yourself apart.

Recruiting: It’s no secret that recruiters can be cold at times. Perhaps you went to one you were excited, and you thought maybe they were “the one”. After some sad songs and an adequate amount drinking or food you soon realize what was really brought to the plate. The experience you had although it was good didn’t set you apart because it was all about the other party and not enough about you. When it comes to recruiting and talking about your experiences, it’s also about setting yourself apart from others who have done this before. Where in the experience can you say, “This defines my work ethic and its not like any others”

Did I just get ghosted?

Dating: Remember that one time you went on a date that was just awesome? The meet up was cool. The conversation went in every direction because it was that fun. You ask, “Can I see you again?”.  They say yes, and after that, you don’t hear from them ever again. Bummer

Recruiting:  Unfortunately, the same thing happens in the recruiting world. You think everything goes well from your initial pre-screen and you end up submitting a resume over to a client and BAM! The client wants to request an interview with your candidate. So you call, and call, and call…but you never receive a response. As much as it does suck this does happen at times, however, regardless of the outcome it does show you that something did work. So keep trying.

It’s Official

Dating: After all the attempts with people in the past. The awkward silences, the check ups to see if they’ve read your message, wondering if you should call, or wondering if he/she even likes you. Doesn’t matter. They are yours. Things feel well, and after some spending time together, you decide this is “the one”. You pop the question and the other person, goes “Yes”. Score. You win. Go live your life.

Recruiting: You’ve made it through the interview process and the hiring manager decides that they finally want to make it official and offer you the role. All the times you were ghosted, wondering if you were being too needy, or not confident enough, it all doesn’t feel so bad anymore. This one is yours. Your adrenaline starts pumping and you get excited as you call your candidate. The manager wants to offer you the position (AKA Popping you the question). You decide to say yes and like that, you are set. Go on and have some fun.


Happy Valentines Day Everyone!

“Do I need to be a programmer to get a job?”

Have you ever wondered if you need to study computer science to get a job?
When I was a freshman, I know I did. As Berkeley students, we border Silicon Valley, home to Facebook, Google, Apple, and other technology companies that seem to be on their way to taking over the world, and hiring all our friends along the way. With high starting salaries and much less supply than there is demand, it can be easy to think that all jobs involve computer
science and to really ask yourself “do I need to be a programmer to get a job?”

The short answer is no – there are plenty of jobs that are not CS focused, within technology companies or outside of them. However, I encourage you to flip that question inside out. What if you instead asked yourself “how can I make sure I add the most value to the field I aspire to be
in?” Once you can convey value to a future employer, hiring simply becomes a formality. Switch your view of the job hunt from you trying to gain an uneven deal that benefits you to a fair exchange of value provided for compensation.

Now that we’ve shifted our perspective, let’s focus on the real answer.
To preface, technology has disrupted nearly every industry it has touched. With the evolution of the internet, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation, many of the typical jobs that could previously be done by humans, such as data entry, are being taken over by machines. If you want to continually add value, consider how you imagine the field you aspire to
work in evolving in 5, 10, and even 15 years. Remember that the iPhone, iPad, and wearables mostly did not exist 10 years ago. For some people, computer science does hold the answer. It can make data analysis faster, more accurate, and streamlined, whereas for others it couldn’t matter less.

This simplifies the question to your field in particular. Do you picture computer science relating to your job function in a few years? Ignore any notion that you’ve never coded before or that you might not be able to do it. I’m studying mechanical engineering and business, and definitely plan
on fitting in a computer science class or two before I graduate.

-Andrew Ansell

Judging a Book by its Cover (Letter)

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Cover Letters – what even are they?? Cover letters are so weird – you literally write a letter to a company about how great you are so that way they can hopefully employ you and give you money. But when you think about it, it’s really no different from the same “letter” we had to write to get into Berkeley. Cover letters are basically personal statements for a company. Each one is personal and made to get into something. That being said, cover letters are different in that they convey why the connection between you and a company makes so much sense. To convey this, there are four “links” that help build the flow to make this connection work.

Link 1 – How did you find out about this position? What attracts you?

  • If it was an info session, a friend, or even scrolling on Handshake, contextualize how you found out about the position. Now what interests you about it? Do you have previous similar experience? Do you have a passion for that field? Did you meet someone from the company that really recommended it you? (Hint – mention that person here)

Link 2 – Why are you qualified?

  • This part is probably the part that will remain most similar throughout your cover letters, unless you’re applying to positions that are super different from each other. Here you will expand on experiences you mention in your resume and focus on the projects you worked on / what skills you gained from those experiences. Use the job description to figure out what skills you should be highlighting! Feel free to use their own language!

Link 3 – Why them? Why you? Why together?

  • This part is more about the company. Why do you want to work for them? What stands out? Why are YOU a good fit for them? How will you benefit the company? How will they benefit you? This part is where you can make it personal – maybe you have something really important tied to this position / field or you’ve always dreamed about working with them or they can help you get closer to your dreams. Regardless, demonstrating that you have passion and an interest in the company is the point of this part.

Link 4 – The End

  • This is the end – pretty standard. Ask for an interview to further discuss your qualifications, talk about the position, etc.

These four links connect together to create a story by you featuring this company / job. Even if the four links don’t work for you, remember that cover letters are personal. Sending out the same cover letter to each position may help you apply to more positions in a shorter amount of time, but it won’t elicit the same amount of responses. Companies know when we send out a general cover letter that just swaps out address information. If you can’t spend an hour writing something for this position, are you that serious? – thoughts recruiters may think of seeing a general, un-personalized cover letter. I know it’s time-consuming – I get it. But like everything else in life, with practice, it’ll get easier. Good luck on your job search and I hope this helped lessen that job stress just a little less. 🙂

Alex Rodriguez

Peer Advisor