This week on the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer we are talking with four students that were Golden Bear Orientation Leaders. We wanted to find out what they enjoyed about the experience and why they think more students should apply this year. Thank you to College of Engineering students Haruka, Tyler, Malvika and Jacob!
As a Golden Bear Orientation Leader, you become part of a team that works collaboratively to welcome and orient new students to the UC Berkeley community. Fill out the application and New Student Services will be in touch. DEADLINE TO APPLY: February 17. If you want to know more, contact NSS or attend an Information Session.
Find out more online or attend one of the 2019 Info Sessions:
- Monday, Jan. 28, 6-7pm, Unit 2 All-Purpose Room
- Thursday, Jan. 31, 7-8pm, Unit 3 All-Purpose Room
- Tuesday, Feb. 5, 3-4pm, 218 Eshleman Hall (Public Service Center)
- Friday, Feb. 8, noon-1pm, 100 Cesar Chavez (Transfer Center)
- Wednesday, Feb. 13, 6:30-7:30pm, 306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium)
LAURA VOGT: Hello and welcome to The (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. My name is Laura Vogt and I’m the communications and events manager for Engineering Student Services and I’m excited to have you here this week. We’re talking with four students that were Golden Bear Orientation Leaders to find out what they enjoyed about the experience and why they think more students should apply this year especially all of you engineers. So thank you Haruka, Tyler, Malvika and Jacob. Why don’t you please tell us a little bit more about yourself.
HARUKA ICHIKAWA: Hi my name is Haruka Ichikawa and I am with third year studying civil and environmental engineering.
LV: and Tyler
TYLER WATERMAN: Yeah. I am also studying civil and environmental engineering. I am a fourth year student getting ready to graduate.
JACOB FISHER: Hi everybody my name is Jacob Fisher. I am a student in the College of Engineering. I am currently a second year studying bioengineering.
MALVIKA SINGHAL: My name is Malvika Singhal, I’m a third year bioengineering major and intended math minor.
LV: How did you find out about being an orientation leader?
TW: Well for me it was honestly from my own orientation leader I just had such a positive orientation experience and they were really just seemed like an amazing person and they really seemed to vibe well with both the students and with the people they worked with. And it just seemed like such a good positive community. I mean orientation really gave me a community. So I kind of wanted to give that back.
HI: Yeah, for me when I went through orientation, I actually went through the previous CalSO model and then my CalSO leader was a student coordinator, which is more like the highest positions that a student can have, for Golden Bear Orientation in its first year and I saw him posting about it on social media and I was like wow that seems really cool. So I decided to do it.
JF: The way that I found out about being an orientation leader is there was a lot of information that was posted in our group chat that we had created when I was a GBO student. So I was in the first class of students that were actually orientated during GBO and during that time we created a group chat and my orientation leaders were absolutely fantastic and they actually encouraged us to apply to be orientation leaders the next year. My freshman year experience although it was definitely a little bit of a learning process, didn’t go as well as I was hoping that it would. So I guess I became an orientation leader and I found out about becoming an orientation leader so that I could kind of make that process just a little bit easier for all of the new students here at Berkeley.
MS: I heard a GBO first through social media because on Facebook people were like plugging it a lot and I was like Oh this looks fun. And then actually in a SWE (Society of Women Engineers) general meeting Haruka came to the front and announced that the orientation squad needed more leaders. And so I was like – okay, well if Haruka says it’s good, it’s probably great because I really trust her. Also, I went through orientation as CalSO and so I’ve heard that GBO would be a lot different. And I remember actually this very clearly like I actually lived across Coffee Strata when the first GBO was going through and I remember during orientation every day these huge groups of students coming through and these signposts. The signposts are the things that really drew me in because it was so creative and like wonderful. I was like – I want to make one of those, I want a part of that and it looked so fun, like a little parade. And I was like – wow amazing. So yeah that’s what drew me into being a GBO leader.
LV: Oh that’s fun. You’re going to be creative and teach new students. Why do you think this is a unique volunteer opportunity?
HI: For me, especially as a student in the College of Engineering, I feel like from my first year I was put in a lot of technical classes and I could meet a lot of students in some measures but I couldn’t really meet people outside of that. But through Golden Bear Orientation, I was able to meet so many people from different backgrounds and different majors. And it’s not just about orienting the new students, it’s also about building a community for yourself.
LV: Oh okay.
TW: Yeah, I have to agree with Haruka on the fact that it’s just I think a lot of times in STEM and in engineering we tend to only talk with each other. And I think orientation offers a unique opportunity to get a lot of different perspectives and to get experience working with people from other backgrounds, who are coming from different places, who might not be familiar with what you’re talking about or what you’re doing and really interacting with people can improve your ability to interact with the broader world. I mean as engineers we don’t live in isolation, we have to interact with the broader world if we want to make things happen. So, I think it’s really been a great opportunity for me to develop those skills that are involved in working with people outside of engineering.
MS: Yeah, like in a sense like being an orientation leader is in that role, is it is a volunteer role but it’s also a chance for you to sort of not only make other students feel comfortable but also have a second chance to like redo your own orientation, perhaps like a go and or maybe the way you want, and so sort of vicariously like lived through the other through the incoming freshmen.
LV: So talking a little bit more about being an orientation leader, what are your responsibilities? What is it that you’re doing?
HI: Well, you have a group of new students, you also might have an orientation leader partner. So either you, or you and your partner, will be leading a group of new students, either freshmen or transfers and teaching them about the values of that the UC Berkeley community thinks is important and also taking them out to like fun activities. We have a segment called Day in the Bay, where you get to choose a location to go to from the Bay Area. So last year there was like ice skating, the Exploratorium in San Francisco, so you got to like got an outing with them. And there was also like super cool late night activities that you get to go to. So there’s like Silent Disco…
TW: and karaoke. Karaoke is always a fun one.
JF: You’re basically in charge of leading students around campus and introducing them to different campus services. So kind of beyond introducing them to campus tours and kind of showing them around campus, you’re also in charge of giving them diversity training, you’re in charge of giving them training on more sensitive topics such as sexual harassment, and you’re in charge of kind of being their first role model on campus as a student here and so you have a bunch of responsibilities involving leading and facilitating discussions revolving around important diversity training topics. You’re in charge of maintaining composure and making sure that they know that Berkeley students, while they are able to have fun, they kind of maintain the sense of professionalism. And you’re also in charge of, I guess you could say, being there for them as a support system because it is their first time being on campus and they most likely haven’t gotten accustomed to the idea of being on campus alone without anybody else from family or friends from back home. And so you’re kind of in charge of basically helping them out with finding friends and finding a support system that they can rely on throughout the rest of the semester.
LV: And so when you have these groups how are they divided up? Is it all a specific major or is it a little bit of from across campus?
TW: So, I think it’s really cool how they’ve kind of done this. If you’re a residential freshman, it’s all going to be people in your residence hall. So it’s gonna be people that you will actually be able to see and interact with everyday throughout your first year. So they’re not gonna be strangers that you won’t see on campus ever again. Which means they’ll be coming from a variety of majors and backgrounds but they’re all gonna be people that like – oh hey – like you see them down the hall on a regular basis. So it creates a nice set up where you can continue that community past just GBO fairly easily because they live with you. And then as far as for non-residential students it is kind of just the mix of wherever they are.
LV: So you even get to create that community with people that are maybe in the same transit thing that you’re having to do. Driving here the morning or take a BART or whatever it is that you’re doing. And then it’s definitely it’s split between frosh and transfer, which also makes it nice.
LV: What is the training like to be a leader and what is the time commitment?
MS: For orientation leaders, I believe there are two days in the spring semester that are day long training sessions. From morning to evening you’re basically working with your orientation mentor and going through workshops as a whole entire group of orientation leaders and within just you’re like little group with your orientation mentor. So there’s like an individualized training focus training and then group training in a sense. And that’s for like two full days in the spring semester and then over summer you do like this sort of online training Which is like modules on bCourses.
TW: It is two three days right before orientation starts in August and then the week of August orientation.
LV: When you’re actually here over the summer you said that you have to train a little bit beforehand and then what are the days like? Like how long are the days when you’re actually working GBO?
JF: Oh they’re pretty long, I will say. When you’re actually working GBO most of the programming goes from around 9:00 in the morning to sometimes midnight if you’re leading residential students. And until about 9:00 or 10:00 when you’re leading transfer students. But because of the fact that we have meetings beforehand you have to wake up around six thirty or seven o’clock and be at the meeting around 7:30 which can take a toll sometimes but I believe that the experience of going through GBO and leading the students kind of makes up for that fact. And of course you can sleep a couple of days afterwards when GBO is over.
LV: I know we were trying to talk about a little bit off mic about what the perks of being a GBO Leader are. So I know, it’s not necessarily like actual things that are given to you for being a GBO leader but what do you think GBO has given you? Like how have you grown as a GBO leader or how has it helped you grow as a person?
MS: Yeah, actually GBO has helped me grow so much. I wasn’t very good at public speaking at all or even starting conversations with people that I like, even friends. But after GBO I started noticing that I had the opportunity to break out of my shell and you know sort of really value and focus on you know creating social connections with people outside of networking. GBO has also kind of giving me more of a space to feel welcomed at Cal. It’s never too late to look for that or even find it. When you come in as a freshman, you’re not gonna get that immediately and if it takes time that’s fine for me coming to GBO and being an orientation leader was sort of that process.
JF: Yeah, I totally agree with that. It’s kind of like add onto that. We do get free swag, so like t-shirts and stuff like that, which is pretty fantastic. But yeah, after my first year at Cal, I kind of questioned whether or not I would be able to still find that community on campus and through GBO, I’ve actually been able to kind of develop more of a community and meet new people and make new friends and kind of feel more at home while volunteering as an orientation leader on campus.
LV: Do you have any favorite memories that you want to share?
HI: In the orientation leader role I’ve led three groups now. And just like meeting so many different people that I probably wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for orientation. That’s a great part of it, but one specific memory that I really cherish was my first time as an orientation leader and it was the last day of orientation and one of my students was like, Haruka, what are we gonna do tomorrow? Like, I can’t like see you anymore? And I was like, No like we can still hang out after orientation, like it’s not like our relationship ends like just orientation, but I was really glad that they felt close enough to me to say that and that they still wanted to see me after orientation.
LV: Yes, you made a good impression.
TW: Yeah, I’d say my favorite memory is the first year of GBO. Everyone that was in our like kind of group of orientation leaders because orientation leaders are actually subset into different groups that they interact with their mentor. So there’s a mentor that has a group of orientation leaders and then each orientation leader has a group of students. So in our orientation leader group, we all had this like group chat that was like really talkative all throughout the GBO and then continued well past GBO and we kept hanging out and like having a good time. So we actually created a community among the orientation leaders in our little little group which is really nice and then a lot of us continued on and served in this mentor role the next year later. So it was just like really cool to see how we were creating community among ourselves and then also watching like each write little orientation groups were also doing kind of the same thing, still hanging out with each other past orientation. So I think that was those two things were just like the coolest thing to see that community grow and to see how it’s not just a direct impact. It’s you’re not impacting just one person you’re impacting that person to impact other people.
JF: My favorite memory is always the silent disco. Every time that we have GBO so there’s a silent disco which is basically where everybody has color coordinated headphones and each station correlates to a different color and each color station correlates to a different I guess musical type. So basically everybody’s listening to their own individual music and dancing to their own songs and in their own way but generally if there’s a song that everybody enjoys you’ll see all of the stations kind of switch to the same color and everybody’s listening to the same song. And so even though people passing by can’t hear the music playing You can still see everybody having fun and everybody sometimes when they’re singing along with the same songs it’s it’s a really cool experience.
MS: Yeah. One of my favorite memories last summer, we basically had some time after the intro to Berkeley tour and so we went to faculty glade and all the freshmen got a chance to like roll down 4.0 Hill and like it was a nice day too. So like that added onto like the vibe and it was so nice to see that and know people still we’re willing to be part of the tradition and get involved and know that everyone’s in high spirits and laughing and coming together as a group and so that was really nice to see and be part of.
LV: To go back to the timing of the schedule we were talking earlier. So it sounds like you have to be here 10 days before school starts in August. Have you had any problems or do you have any experience with doing an internship and trying to get back in time or it doesn’t take up any other time over the summer right?
TW: It takes a no other time over the summer. And also if anyone’s taking a summer class we’re flexible with that in that the training does overlap with the end of summer classes but we allow people to attend their summer classes and finish that up and work that with training. Also for internships I feel like in general in my experience with engineering internships they tend to be a little bit flexible on the date. There’s no like final poster you have to submit for a lot of them. So we found that for a lot of people they’re able to like talk with their employer and work it out. Haruka, I don’t know if you have more experience with that.
HI: Yeah, I had an internship last summer and they were very flexible about letting me finish a week earlier than the other interns. So that was very nice.
LV: A lot of it’s about communication then probably with who you’re interning with.
LV: What do you think being an orientation leader has taught you about yourself.
HI: Definitely public speaking skills I’ve definitely improved on that and also how to manage unexpected situations because more or less you’ll encounter that at some point during orientation. But it was kind of like a confidence booster for me to know that I can get through those unexpected problems or just being nervous about speaking in public. So I think overall I’ve grown a lot from orientation and I’ve also learned that I am more capable of what I thought I was capable of.
LV: Give you a little bit more faith in yourself.
LV: And is there anything that you want to add about me being the GBO leader that we haven’t talked about?
JF:I definitely think that in the engineering field it’s not really talked about much about becoming an orientation leader or at least we don’t tend to have many engineering orientation leaders. And for me, I think that being an engineer and an orientation leader at the same time is absolutely fantastic because when you’re an engineering student you constantly hear from people-Oh you have to get internships, you have to do this, you have to do that in terms of professional development and all of them are very linked to your major in engineering and through GBO it’s giving me the opportunity to kind of branch beyond my major and beyond the College of Engineering and kind of gain leadership skills in a way that is unique and in a way that is given me the opportunity to kind of learn new leadership skills and kind of be able to develop my own service, I guess my own style of leadership and it doesn’t necessarily directly involved in major but I still get those skills that are necessary for involvement in your major and beyond.
MS: Well when you become an engineer you have to remember that you are helping people, your job is to innovate technology that helps people. How useful can you be or how effective can you be as a leader if you can’t communicate with people. Plus you need to get people interested in what you’re researching.
HI: For my experience, I would say that when I was going into the orientation leader role I expected myself to be just the leader and I like helping new students learn about Berkeley and orient themselves. But then I definitely grew a lot more personally from orientation than I ever expected to. And just to add on to what I said previously like communication skills definitely is another big thing that I learned from orientation. And yeah I feel like by being in orientation and the skills I learned from orientation have helped me later in my engineering classes too. So it was an overall very positive experience for me.
LV: Details about applying to be an orientation leader: You need to fill out the application and New Student Services will be in touch with you. The deadline to apply is February 17th and if you want to know more, contact New Student Services or attend an info session and all that information is available on bit.ly/GBOleaderinfo and you can always check the link on welcomengineer.berkeley.edu. Thank you for turning into this week’s The (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. And thank you again to Tyler, Haruka, Jacob and Malvika for joining us. We’ll be back next week with more information on upcoming events in the spring and how you can be a part of Cal Day. Thank you.