Clarity, competitiveness and connections. The three C’s that the UC Berkeley Career Center are focused on when working with students as they develop their education outside of the classroom. This week we are thrilled to have Katie Crawford and Angie Luo, UC Berkeley career advisers, who work with engineering students on campus. They introduce us to the events, programs and resources that are available to students in the College of Engineering from the Career Center. Also, learn some tips and advice of how to prepare for your post-Berkeley career before you get to Berkeley in the fall.
- Career Center: career.berkeley.edu
- Make appointments to see a Career Center adviser
- Join Handshake
- View a list of events for the upcoming semester
- Check out resources such as resume tips, examples and more
LAURA VOGT: Welcome back for this week’s episode of 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 in the College of Engineering. And joining us today is Katie Crawford and Angie Luo from the Career Center. Welcome and thank you for being here.
ANGIE & KATIE: Thanks for having us. Thank you.
LAURA: Katie can you tell us a little bit about yourself.
KATIE: Sure. I am a career counselor at our Career Center here on campus at Cal and I specifically lead up our team for the College of Engineering. So I work with all of the college of engineering students as a counselor alongside my colleague Angie.
LAURA: Angie, why don’t you tell us about yourself.
ANGIE: Oh great. My name is Angie Luo and I’m also a career counselor at the Career Center I work with College of Engineering students and also the students in the College of Environmental Design, which is our architectural planning school.
LAURA: The big question, can one of you tell me about the Career Center?
KATIE: The Career Center here on campus is located on the south side of campus which is the opposite side that many of our engineering students spend a lot of their time on. But it’s right across from our new student union, so it still tends to be an area of campus that they see a lot. We work specifically with students supporting them on the career side. So I like to look at us as the opposite of academics. If you have academic support on one side and career on the other, we’re that career support. So I’m starting to get that that students get here, they can utilize our center our services and our events to help them in what we call the three Cs. So this is a fairly new acronym but we help support students in gaining career clarity. So that means we help students figure out what they want to major in and then if they have chosen something we help them sort of clarify what it is they want to do. What direction they want to go and then how to strategize a plan so that they can get where they want to where they want to go. So that’s the clarity piece.
The second C is competitiveness. We help students get educated and understand how hiring processes work and how to be competitive in a global market, specifically in engineering. We’re in one of the best areas of the world for them to be searching. So we want to make sure that they’re educated as much as possible. So we do that through workshops events and one on one counseling. And then the third C is connections. We from day one when students get here. We want to make sure that they get connected with alumni, employers and everybody they need to get connected with in order to be successful in their academic and career lives, so that includes internships and jobs.
LAURA: Angie, why is it important for our incoming students to know about the Career Center in your services?
ANGIE: We’re just a really great resource for students on campus to complement their academic lives. We really approach it as co-curricular and development. We think that you know we also want you to get an internship and job during school and also after school. And I think it’s really important to access the Career Center even if you don’t necessarily know what you want to be doing right now that’s totally fine. We’re here to help you gain that clarity. Get that competitive edge and make those connections.
LAURA: When are students actually going to begin working with the Career Center?
KATIE: That’s a great question and one that I think a lot of students have misconceptions about. So we actually have evidence that the earlier students interact with us in their academic careers here at Berkeley the more likely they are to have that full time job. That research position wherever it is that they want to be when they graduate. So it really is as early as students are comfortable coming in. So if you’re here on the first day that’s great. Even if you come in and say I don’t know anything about the Career Center I just know this is an important place and I’d love to know more about it. That’s what we’re here for. And they can come in for that. So really as early as possible, also knowing that we understand academics do come first. So you know freshmen tend to come in within their first year hopefully and transfer students are in a little bit quicker timeline. So we’d love to see transfer students as soon as they get here and as soon as they’re comfortable.
LAURA: And so how would a student go about getting to the Career Center or making an appointment? What is the process of what they’re going to do when they go and see you there?
ANGIE: You can actually make an appointment with us online. We release all our appointments through our online scheduling system. If you just go to career.berkeley.edu you and click on career counseling appointment you’ll be able to see both of us as engineering students. We also have a lot of different ways to interact with the Career Center too. So in addition to 1 on 1 appointments with students individually, you can also you know come to a workshop or a career fair or there’s a lot of ways to get involved and it’s not just 1 on 1. So you know if you’re not quite ready for that 1 on 1 conversation we definitely encourage you to check out some workshops or panels or any other events that we’re doing and oftentimes we do collaborate with student organizations too.
KATIE: Yeah and on top of that we also do drop in appointments with our peer advisers. We have peer advisers who are undergraduate students right alongside the students who are who are coming in and we actually have two engineering students this year who are peer advisers in our organization. They can come in, if you just have questions you don’t necessarily feel like you need to work with a professional staff member but you just want to know how can I take advantage of their Career Center and what are they all about. You can come in for a drop ins between 12 and four Monday through Friday.
LAURA: And you also have drop ins available here at 230 Bechtel Engineering Center right?
KATIE: I do. Yes. So I am and this is Katie by the way I don’t know if you can differentiate our voices but I do our drop in appointments on Wednesdays between 1 and 4 in Bechtel 230, which is where the Engineering Student Services office is which is where your advisers are located. So between 1 and 4 you can come in anytime after that and sign up for a drop in appointment with me. And those are great for everything from I need to work on my resume to I love to strategize my internship search strategy or you know I just want to know how do I start this planning business. Because I have been concentrating on the academics for my whole life and now I have to think about my career. So how do I even start. So you can come in with any questions like that on Wednesdays here in Bechtel.
LAURA: What’s the best way if students want to know what workshops you’re offering or if they want to know any news that you have? What’s the best way for them to keep in contact with a person or know what’s coming up?
KATIE: That’s a great question. Kind of segues into talking about one of the most important pieces of the puzzle that students can start working on right away. And it’s called Handshake. So Handshake is our online career management system the way that I like to describe it is, CalCentral is sort of your academic portal, Handshake is your career portal. It functions a lot like Facebook and LinkedIn and it’s available to all Berkeley students and for incoming freshmen and transfer students should be in the system by around the first week of August. They can go to career.berkeley.edu and they’ll see the Handshake logo sprinkled everywhere and they click on that, they can CalNet in with their username and password. That’s where they will find all of our workshops, events, information on how to get in contact with employers, which that includes career fairs, career connections, events, which we can talk about. And it’s also where any employer who contacts Berkeley and would like to hire Cal students, which if you can imagine that’s a lot of companies. We set them up with profiles of that Handshake and they post their jobs and internships in Handshake.
So not only is it where you find out about our services our events are opportunities for you to learn more about companies, organizations, and apply for jobs. You can actually find jobs and internships. So it really is kind of the whole package and it’s one of those websites you should always just have up on your dashboard and opened up as soon as you get on your computer.
LAURA: Angie, can you give us an idea of some of the events that you have coming up in the fall semester that our students are going to be interested in.
ANGIE: The first Saturday of the semester we’ll have an Engineering and Tech Career Conference and this is just a really great way to introduce you to kind of the agency of career development as an engineering student. We strongly encourage you to come. We’ll be talking about things like interviews or networking with employers and we just want to provide you with the tools and resources for you to be really successful in your career. Another event that we have kind of a flagship event every semester is a resume critique. It’s a speed resume critique where we invite recruiters to come on campus and help students out with their resumes. And really you’re getting the perspective from somebody who has a lot of experience reviewing resumes in terms of what they look for and how to best improve your own. We’ll also have a lot of career chats throughout the semester, ranging from topics about construction management or chemical engineering to data sciences and biotech. We also have a Career Connections networking series event where we bring about 15 to 20 industry professionals and alums back on campus just to talk to students. A low stress environment where you’re really just there to talk to other people who have been in your shoes before as students or who are doing some work that you’re interested in learning more about.
LAURA: One of the things that we hear from freshmen all the time is that they wanted an internship yesterday.What strategies would you have are and suggestions that you have for freshmen that want this internship now?
KATIE: That’s another question that we’re hearing more and more every year is freshmen coming and saying hey my parents, my friends, everybody’s talking about how I need to get an internship this summer after my first year. So that’s definitely something that we can work with students on. And the first point that we like to make is typically most companies are wanting to hire upper level students, so juniors and seniors or at least sophomores who have a little bit more experience or are a little bit closer to graduating logistically, but we also want freshmen to know that there are lots of opportunities internships included but they’re not the only option. So there are great programs out there. Microsoft has an exploratory program. Facebook has kind of I can’t remember what they call it but it’s I think they call it Facebook University actually. But these programs that are specifically for freshmen and we can help students, freshmen who are coming in, become competitive for those we work with students on their resumes and on networking and figuring out the timelines and things like that. So we’re happy to do that in one on one counseling appointments. You can come to any of our workshops series where we talk about job and internships searching. Those are a couple of different ways that they can interact with us, but we also want students to know that any experience is good experience. This summer after your freshman year. So internships are great summer exploratory programs are awesome. There are also these experiences called RUEs for freshmen and sophomores through the NSF and they are research opportunities for students to actually go to different institutions and do research for them which is a great opportunity for engineering students. There are part time jobs, side projects, more things that than I can even think of right now that students can do after their freshman year so we can definitely help students strategize. Yes you can look for an internship. But if you don’t get one you have lots of other opportunities as well. And we’re happy to help connect you with those.
LAURA: What are you going to tell a transfer student that’s coming in and how are they going to get an internship because they’re definitely going to want to look into it more than the freshmen, have a little bit more leeway maybe in some ways, but those transfer students they want to jump in feet first?
KATIE: Yeah it’s a great question. Transfer students are coming in and they really have that one summer in between their junior and senior year to take advantage of the opportunity to gain real world experience. So being an engineering student specifically that can be a little bit of a pickle because recruiting timelines starts so early for engineering students. They really do start in August. So what we would suggest for transfer students is that they kind of have the mindset of hitting the ground running a little bit. So they come in and of course we encourage transfer students to get comfortable with their courses and to get familiar with campus and all of those different things that hopefully they’ll do at Golden Bear Orientation. But then we encourage them to come in and see us whether they’re seeing us in a one on one 30 minute appointment in the Career Center, come in and see us in our drop ins on Wednesday afternoons between 1 and 4 230 Bechtel, and even if you don’t come in and see one of us in person. Definitely know that that first career fair is September 7th, which is the second week of classes and those career fairs are one of the number one ways that our employers are hiring university students for their internships. So my number one piece of advice for transfer students would be to start working on your resume now and start working on it. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect that’s what we’re here for. Utilize the Career Center early and often and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Even if you feel like your experience doesn’t stack up as much to the person on your right and the person on your left because I can’t tell you how many transfer students I’ve worked with who simply do not realize the value that they have to offer to these employers. So yeah that’s that would be my biggest piece of advice. Angie I don’t know if you have anything else to add to that.
ANGIE: I think one additional piece of advice I would say is just keep trying. Don’t feel like if you don’t have an internship by October or November after the career fairs and the interviews kind of taper off a little bit that you’re not going to get one. You know keep in mind, adjusting to Cal can be difficult and challenging and there are a lot more internship opportunities out there than just the employers that are coming on campus. The other thing I want to remind transfer students is that you have a lot of experiences before you got to Cal that have really contributed to your skill set. And to your experience and development as a professional and you want to just think about like how has everything that I’ve done up to this point really helped me and how am I going to talk about those experiences and present myself in a way that’s going to be compelling for an employer for a recruiter.
LAURA: I’m going to make you choose a favorite. Do you have a favorite event that happens in the fall semester?
KATIE: I think I have two favorites. The first being the resume critiques. The resume critiques are a great opportunity to have your resume looked at by a recruiter, somebody who’s actually hiring for the types of positions that OUR engineering students are interested in. This year that will be September 6th. It’s the day before my second favorite event which is our EECS Career Fair. The EECS Career Fair isn’t just for EECS students, it’s for any student who’s interested in the tech industry. So it’s lots of companies that are represented in Silicon Valley and around the Bay Area who are hiring technical students. So it’s a great opportunity even for freshmen but definitely for transfer students to come in, hit the ground running. I think it’s the second week of classes and to meet employers who are hiring for some of those technical positions within the tech industry, within Silicon Valley. It’s really exciting. It can be really busy. It can be kind of hot and intense but it’s a really, really fun event and it’s a really cool opportunity to meet with Apple and Google and Facebook as well as some of the smaller startup organizations that are here in the Bay Area. So that’s definitely those are two opportunities that are actually one after the other that are really exciting for engineering students.
LAURA: And Angie can you tell me what is your favorite resource that the Career Center offers for students?
ANGIE: Well I think one of the best resources for engineering students on campus is actually the staff members here, so both an Engineering Student Services and also in the Career Center with Katie and I serving on the career engineering team. We’re really here to help support you and guide you throughout your years here as undergraduates. That is our job. And we love doing it. So definitely take advantage of reaching out to us if you have any quick questions or you just want to figure out what’s going on or what should I really be thinking about we’re happy to talk to you. And I think you know as much as online resources are wonderful for students, don’t discount that face to face either. So you know I talked to an advisor, talk to a career counselor you know talk to the alums and the professionals who come here on campus just to meet you.
LAURA: Our students are listening to this over the summer. Do you have any suggestions on what students should do over the summer to get ready for coming to Berkeley and getting ready to start looking at their careers?
ANGIE: Well as Katie mentioned, definitely are I working on your resume. Start doing some research in terms of what types of experiences or internships or other things that you want to be preparing for. Do your research on campus to know what services does the College of Engineering offer, what are different centers on campus that you’ll be able to really develop your interests. Also tap into some student organizations too. Student organizations are probably the number one way to learn from your peers outside of the classroom. A lot of those students have had internships before, have interviewed, have drafted resumes and they can be your resource in addition to the career center.
KATIE: Yeah definitely, I think in addition to that I have two things. One, if you do nothing else it’s just block out a couple of hours on a Thursday afternoon or a Sunday morning when you’re drinking your coffee and do two things check out career.berkeley.edu and look at some of the job and internships search resources that we have out there. So we have everything from resume and cover letter suggestions and samples to what to expect out of the recruiting process and how to talk to recruiters, how to interview, we’ve got so many resources. You don’t have to read it all but to know where it is and how to find it would be really helpful so that when you get here you already know where to find that stuff. And the other thing you might do is set up your LinkedIn account. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account or if it’s one of those ghost accounts that you created a long time ago and you don’t even know if you have a photo and you would never let anybody actually look at it and go in there and kind of check that out polish it, have that ready to go because that’s a great recruiting resource that you could do today. You don’t need to be at Berkeley to work on your LinkedIn profile. So those would be my other two pieces of advice, other than just look up companies and if you have a favorite company or five favorite companies, get to know them a little bit so that when you get to campus you’re ready to talk to them and you can come to us and say hey you know what I’ve always wanted to work at Illumina or I’ve always wanted to work at Boeing and I want to know what to do so that I can strategize and have that dream internship.
LAURA: Anything that we missed today that you want to add and make sure that students know about?
KATIE: I have one piece of advice that I was reminded to give out by one of my transfer students who is a mechanical engineering transfer student, who works for us as a peer adviser and he told me that the best piece of advice I gave him when he first came here was to remember that you’re a Berkeley student you’re getting an incredible degree. So lead with that. Whenever you’re thinking about that first internship you want to gather how nervous you are about recruiting for your first job. Remember where you’re going to school and where you’re living and what kind of value that gives you. You know it’s easy to be amongst thousands of other students and to start to feel like a small fish in a big pond but you’re graduating with an incredible degree And don’t forget that.
ANGIE: My biggest piece of advice for an incoming student whether you’re a freshman or a transfer student is to try new things. Get involved on campus. Keep an open mind, try some things that you think you might be interested in. Maybe something that won’t work out but you’ll most likely find those handful of student orgs or internships or study groups that you really value and that will help you in your career and in your academic development. So keep an open mind and try new things.
KATIE: Ok my last thing that I would want to leave students with is to know that we understand that thinking about your career, thinking about the future, can be a little bit scary and intimidating. And we want you to know that we are a Career Center of I believe we have 35 employees somewhere around there. We’re a really fun place to be. We’re very relaxed. We have fun and we’re here to support you 100 percent. So we’re not an intimidating place to be. We should be a really comfortable place for you to come whenever you have questions concerns. We want you to walk out feeling confident and comfortable. So we’re a cool group of people. And even though careers can be a little scary we’re not.
LAURA: Well thank you both so much for coming today. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge and your resources with our students and all the links that we talked about are going to be on the website, welcomengineer.berkeley.edu. We look forward to seeing you next week and again, Katie, Angie, thank you again so much.
KATIE & ANGIE: Thank you for having us.