Today we meet Abigail Jacob, Engineering Student Council (ESC) President. She is passionate about student organizations and how they benefit the students in the College of Engineering and beyond. Abigail discusses what she does for ESC, how she can provide support for student groups and how you can get involved.
- Engineering Student Council
- Student Teams and Organizations
- Abigail Jacob, Engineering Student Council President
LAURA VOGT: Hello! And welcome to the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineering. I’m Laura Vogt, the Communications and Events Manager for Engineering Student Services and this week we are talking with the Engineering Student Council president Abigail Jacob. Abbi please tell us about yourself.
ABIGAIL JACOB: Hi, my name is Abigail Jacob or as most people know me as Abbi. I’m, like Laura said, the current ESC president. ESC is the Engineering Student Council, it represents the engineering student body, support engineering societies in reaching their full potential; and promote a diverse community through successful collaboration between students, faculty, society, and the College of Engineering. We work very closely with the College of Engineering with events such as the New Student Orientation and also we work very closely with ESS and so that means I’ve known Laura for about two years. We work on events such as the Blue & Gold Dinner, where we have a conversation with our current student organization presidents with a very prominent faculty. A good example is last year we talked about collaboration, which we translated into the Engineer’s Week. I’m the current student outreach coordinator for science tech services which used to be called residential computing. So what I do, work with rebranding because most people from previous years know us as rescomp and now we’re transitioning to tech services. And I also coordinate professional development events with CITRIS and other organizations within the College of Engineering and the University as a whole.
LAURA: So you’re quite busy.
ABBI: Yeah, but I like doing it.
LAURA: Oh that’s good.
ABBI: When I entered Berkeley what got me through Berkeley other than the hard engineering classes, which is when the number of one priority is, is seeing how people use their education to kind of improve their surroundings. One of Berkeley’s main missions is service and the easiest way to do as a student is to put service into your community and my community happened to be at first the College of Engineering and that’s how I got involved in Engineering Student Council. And then I realized that I wanted to affect the community as in University of California. And I want to use my kind of interest in technology and moved on as a tech consultant in what used to be rescomp and they moved on as a supervisor and then I realized I could yes, be in a more technical role and be a lead supervisor or I could do what I wanted to do and that’s allow these technical resources that we offer our staff to the whole university. And that’s how we became not only a residential kind of resource with rescomp and now our position to a resource for the whole university: students, staff and faculty. I want to translate that kind of saved mission into ESC. I’ll be honest, yes, I started out as a I don’t know what I want to do in this organization but it seems like an organization that is very much involved in the College of Engineering. I started out as a corporate committee member where I just started contacting random industries hoping for money because more money allows us to support our organizations and if we can make them awesome then that’s a good representation of our organization, as well as, the College of Engineering. That is ESC’s main goal is to make sure that our student organizations reach their full potential. Like if your main kind of barrier is money, then fine don’t worry about the money. Worry about your building, worry about your planning, or about your outreach and will take care of that kind of thing. At least that is how I would like ESC to be.
LAURA: That makes sense. So your biggest concern me as the ESC president is to help make the student organizations and competition team successful.
ABBI: As well as outreach teams or outreach organizations. So my goal is to make sure that student organizations don’t have to worry about things that they don’t need to worry about. So if you’re a competition team that’s building a car, you don’t really need to worry about finding funding if you contact us. We’ll try to help make sure that you have the money to participate in those competitions. If you’re an outreach team and you need to get to like say San Diego and at this point, as students, who don’t have the money to pay for the gas or even the accommodations. My main goal is to make sure that we can find those resources for you. And if we ourselves can offer those resources to see if anybody on campus can offer those resources for you.
LAURA: How many of the student orders do you have that ESC works with right now?
ABBI: Currently we have about 76, which is what we’ve increased from 40 to 76. That’s quite fun. It’s got a big group and a very responsive group.
LAURA: Do you also do things outside of the Blue & Gold Dinner, I know you talked about that you do collaboration with them. What other type of things do you do to keep the clubs that are collaborating together?
ABBI: I make sure that every club and organization’s representative has my email. So if they do require one in one support, whether it be filling out the forms for the year, as well as just trying to…A good example is when Fem Tech was first starting out a couple of years ago. I had met with Andrea Lombard, who was the previous president and also founder of FEM Tech, to advise on how they should structure events. Plus she was graduating that time so I gave some input as well on making sure that their events are publicized so they can grow as an organization. I offer advising as well as feedback. But at the same time, when I offer advice and feedback, I make sure to ask feedback from those organizations, so I know we as ESC are kind of doing our best to accommodate for every organization. Another recent project I’m doing is with Dawn of College of Engineering with regards to the new M.E.T. program. They want to start their own board and student organization that will be later registered with us. So I’m advising on how to make their constitution, how should they structure their leadership, tailored to their kind of goals. So it’s kind of advising but it’s more to make sure that they are kind of setup for the school year.
LAURA: So you’ve been there for not just clubs that have been around for a while but the new startups to help get them off the ground.
ABBI: If there’s a student that comes up to me – and there are some will just come up to me and say – Hey, you’re Abbi and I’m like yes that’s me. And they say I’m thinking of starting a cosmetics club and I’m like OK cool. Just like we are a chemical engineers or we are mechanical engineers or whatever but they’re engineering students who have seen other organizations being registered and just getting the resources that they need and they would like to be part of that. So then it’s my job to make sure that their dream of a new organization comes true. It’s kind of like being the fairy godmother of organizations hopefully.
LAURA: Have you also worked with people who come up to you and say – I have this idea that I want to do something – If you know that it is something that is already in place, then do you help get them to the people that are already doing it?
Abbi: Yes, a good example is in the previous ASUC, this is a non-engineering kind of person, said he knew of a couple organizations that wanted to do something similar to CalHacks. You kind of understand like well we can’t have both events. But what we can do is instead of having two conflicting events where they’re kind of competing against each other, how about we work together. Has a larger reach to other students because what at least from my experience is that every event that’s kind of labeled engineering has kind of the interpretation of – Oh this is only for engineering students. And if even if you’re interested in an event, you can’t attend because you’re not an engineering student. Which is something I’ve been trying to promote during my time as ESC, is that even though we’re an engineering student council most of our events are targeting the college as a whole.
LAURA: Do you have students that come that just know they want to get involved in something but they don’t know what would match them best to get involved with? Are you able to talk to them and say OK well these are clubs that you might be interested in or…
ABBI: Yes, actually this happens a lot. So our first event during the year is NSO [New Student Orientation] and usually they come up to me – Oh I remember seeing you at tabling, I’m so and so and in some major. During my high school period I participate in this, I want to continue that kind of trend. And then I will recommend them a series of clubs. But if you have a student who completely doesn’t know what they want to do, which who I was, I always invite them to be part of Engineering Student Council because when you’re part of Engineering Student Council you’re now exposed to the 76 groups that we are now supporting. And with then talking to them, you might find your next new club. A good example is, my previous committee member, Nick, found a mechanical engineering club, I believe it was ASME, through Engineering Student Council. And he loved it and you know he didn’t know he loved it. And so he kind of met up with their leaders and I’m like oh that’s something I want to be involved in. You know like you you don’t have to be a student that goes into college engineering. OK. I want to be the next new NASA’s engineer or I want to be the next new rocket engineer or I want to be the next best researcher in the world. You can come into the College of Engineering saying – I love engineering but at this point, I don’t know what specific projects I want to get into. And that’s the beauty of college, right. You explore what you want do. If you go into a biomedical organization. OK. This may not be for me and you have like the next four years to figure out what’s for you. A good example, I ended up doing an environmental policy rotation, which has nothing to do with my major but I love it. I love what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to help people out, which is what I love to do. So yeah.
LAURA: Well that makes sense, if you want to help people out, your involvement in something where you’re helping all these student organizations out. You are not just working with individuals but entire groups.
ABBI: It’s inspiring because when you see these student organizations I’ve seen student organizations who have stayed until 10 p.m. at night, if not later, just for one event. If you got to work with people that are dedicated to their craft, to the organization, to their cause and you get to work with them and not just one of them but all of them. I would take the opportunity in a heartbeat.
LAURA: Let’s talk a little bit about your E-Week [Engineer’s Week] that you mentioned. What is E-Week and when does it happen?
ABBI: Engineer’s Week is a week where we kind of celebrate the College of Engineering in our community. It usually happens during the spring semester, so this year’s E-Week and last year’s happened during February, Valentine’s Day! I’d like to think of it as first a corporate opportunity where we can gain funding for student organizations for next year. But it’s also kind of an opportunity for different majors within the College of Engineering, and even other people who are not in the College of Engineering, we try to make sure that’s very clear that you do not have to be part of the College of Engineering. Your friends can come. The reason why is I want everyone to have a good time and realize that engineering is not just difficult kind of academia but it’s also quite fun. There are a lot of applications to it. A good example. is when you have a Northrop Grumman representative playing with Legos next to you know 18 year old students and you realize that a lot of Engineers started out like us. If I can provide the opportunity for other students to realize that professionals start as students and if they see other students that have the same struggle or maybe have the same interests then I feel like E-Week has accomplished its goal. I think one of the most inspiring and successful events and the event that I really truly appreciate was made by one of our communications officer who is Annie Pan. She came to realize- Hey like a lot of engineers from Berkeley make startups and a lot of startups don’t get enough publication, recognition. She realized that if we want more money, let’s half the amount of money they need to be part of E-Week and promote these businesses. A lot of our students end up applying to those businesses and I talked to people, I followed up. One student said they loved it and they would have never thought of pursuing a startup because when you go in you want to get the biggest companies, to get the biggest paycheck. The student had a big appreciation of meeting a smaller kind of company and having more of a hands on experience with them. So if I can make that experience happen with E-Week then I would think that’s the best.
LAURA: You’ve been a success.
ABBI: Yeah we did a great job. But if I can change or just have any given experience to a student, if it’s just one student that’s enough for me, I’d like to be more students to have that experience.
LAURA: Just to kind of wrap up our conversation about ESC and the student orgs that you can get involved with – what’s the best way for someone listening to the podcast right now that wants to explore student organizations – what should they do?
ABBI: Ask. Like if you have a classmate who’s in urbanization or if you if you were here somebody in the library. Don’t be rude but just go up to like – Hey I heard you talking about this organization. He told me more about it and people who want to tell you about the organization because if you’re interested in something that they’re involved in they will tell you everything. And if it’s something that you’re interested in ask them like hey I know you’re busy. Maybe it’s after recruitment. Say if you can check them out and then they’ll remember you. They’ll probably end up being leadership and recruiting you. There’s different recruitment processes for every club. But if it’s a recruitment kind of a club that is a long process for recruitment that’s the best way to do it.
LAURA: Let’s put your contact information for ESC and for you on welcomengineer.berkeley.edu.
ABBI: I’ll be more than happy to help. And so I mean that’s what I love to do that’s why I want to do that.
LAURA: Thank you so much for stopping by today. I really appreciate your time and everything that you do for ESC and what you do for student organizations on campus. Thank you. Thank you for tuning in and we’ll talk to you again next week.