This week we are excited to have Tiffany Reardon, Associate Director for Retention Programs for Engineering Student Services, back to give us an update to what you can do to prepare for Berkeley Engineering this summer. Topics include: refreshing your math and other subject skills through test banks and watching Berkeley lectures; learning to code with free online resources; and work on your resume and LinkedIn – career fairs begin at the beginning of the semester.
- Chris Pine’s Learn to Code
- Tau Beta Pi Test Bank
- Khan Academy
- UC Berkeley Career Center: Resumes and Cover Letters
LAURA VOGT: Hello and welcome to The Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. And like we promised last week, today we have a new guest, Tiffany Reardon, she is the Associate Director for Retention Programs for Engineering Student Services. Welcome to the podcast Tiffany! Tell us a little about yourself.
TIFFANY REARDON: Hi. Thank you so much for having me. My name is Tiffany Reardon and I work here at Berkeley in the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence and I run the PREP program and the T-PREP program and several of our scholars programs.
LV: Thank you again for joining us today. This week I wanted to give students some tips for getting ahead this summer and I know with your work you have quite a few tips about to make the most of their summer and how to be prepared for Berkeley Engineering. Do you have an overall theme of what students should be doing this summer to prepare?
TR: OK so that’s actually a great question. So I guess maybe it would be helpful. What to do and maybe what not to do. So what you should do is you should relax pace yourself. Get ready. You know if you’re relocating if you’re moving. Enjoy your summer.
At the same time be productive in your summer so be productive. There’s a number of resources free resources that you can take advantage of online that will help you prepare. Now as you mentioned all of our incoming students are working on their Golden Bear advising so at this point they either know exactly what classes are going to take or they kind of have a general idea. Listen to your ESS advisers. Right. If your ESS adviser tells you hey maybe you might want to start and you know math 1B and you’re saying no but I got this you know five on my AP you know exam really maybe take what they say to heart. I know a lot of students that will say well you know I’m going to AP out of all these classes and I’m going to start and say math 53 or math 54. And so if you have an opportunity to take one A or one B and your adviser is telling you that that might be a better option. Don’t think of it as you know you’ve taken the AP class for nothing. Don’t think of that at all. Think of it as your AP class is a great foundation that you have coming in and taking a class at UC Berkeley will cement that foundation. Not only that if you look at are of corse undergraduate guides which are all available online you’ll see that they all start in Math 1A. So you’re not going to be behind. You’re not going to be behind you’ll graduate on time that’s not an issue. Lot of students will say well I’ve AP out of everything. I actually have a couple of students that have contacted me and said that they’re planning on taking classes over the community college classes over the break. I wouldn’t suggest doing that. Really I wouldn’t suggest doing that because 1 you’re going to burn out by the time you know any summer class you take. I don’t care what the subject is any summer class you take is going to be very very condensed. It’s going to be very very rushed.
And quite honestly you know you really you should be taking this time to learn things but learn things not for the grade. Learn how to learn. And also think about how you best learn. Right.
So some students learn by visual learners some students learn by watching lectures. Some students are you know they learn by their tactile. It just depends on what your learning style is. A lot of our students that come to Berkeley as community college transfer students might think you know what I’m ready to go and I’m going to take a community college class or I’m going to take a Berkeley class let’s say EECS for example. So a student that’s majoring in EECS might say well I might as well just get 61 out of the way and get a headstart. I don’t think you should do that. And the reason why I don’t think you should do that is because if you think about it you’re not going to be on track with your other incoming class and your other incoming cohort.
And that’s actually true. You know if it were up to me I would tell all of our incoming students no, start classes in fall, because we want to make sure that you have the cohort of students together that you will take classes with. And that’s part of the reason why we don’t do spring transfer in the College of Engineering spring transfer or freshman spring admins. It’s because we want all of our students to come in together as a cohort your engineers you have to learn to work together. That’s that’s something that you know to to really consider.
LV: And a lot of our students or actually I think all of our students at some point are going to have to take a coding class whether they’re doing computer science or not coding is important across the board. So if someone hasn’t ever coded before do you have something for them that they can do over the summer.
TR: Absolutely. So there’s a number of fantastic resources online all free so we have we have all these links for you all to learn. There’s a great book which is Chris Pine learning to code. This is a great book. It goes under it goes over Ruby on Rails. So if you get the Chris Pine book you can get it on Amazon. It’s not that expensive. You even get a used copy. It’s a great book because you can teach yourself Ruby. Right. So you can spend the time you know during the summer pacing yourself if you are going to be taking 61 in the fall you’ll be learning python. This will give you some coding background. Now maybe you have been coding you know since you’ve I don’t know middle school. Right. There’s some students that have been coding for a long time. You can watch all of the lectures online. If you go to youtube there’s there’s many many lectures that you can watch online. And I encourage you to do that so you can get used to what to expect in lecture. You know you’re here in Berkeley and the the kind of the learning expectations and the professors student experience is much much different as a transfer student from community college. As a student from high school it’s a much different experience. Your expectation in high school and your expectation in community college is that you are given information and you deliver an answer a correct answer. Well here at Berkeley it’s a bit different. In engineering we are training you to be engineers and engineers are problem solvers and you know the way that you become a good problem solver is the methodology that you use to come up with the solution. So a lot of our students that work in technical jobs do very very well on their technical interviews because they are used to this. They are used to the you know the problem solving that’s why you’ve probably heard those funny questions that some of the tech industries give you know interview questions well those interview questions might sound ridiculous what they’re asking they’re asking is if you know how to problem solve. And so that’s what you need to learn. So those of you that and I’m sure a lot of our engineers out there have always liked puzzle books and logic and stuff like that do that. That’s great. You know keep that up. It’s wonderful. Other resources that you can look at aside from the past lectures online. There are test banks online as well. So you kind of get a sense of the questions. Coursera Khan Academy Khan Academy if you’re taking math 54 you can take a linear algebra class online or you can look up some linear algebra resources online. There’s all amazing things to do. But but I really encourage you not to take a class and not to enroll in a class because really you want to start fresh here at Berkeley and you want to refresh but it just really doesn’t make sense for you to take a class and you never know something could happen.
And you know maybe you don’t do so well and then you get off to a bad start and you don’t want that
LV: And we want our students to keep their minds active and engaged but we don’t want them to be tired and overworked by the time they get here.
TR: Yes. Yes. We want you to be fresh when you get here in the fall.
LV: And I know more so for transfer students maybe they can start thinking about putting a resume together. I know our career fairs kickoff I think the first week of school..
TR: Yes. All of our students whether they’re transfer students or freshmen especially our transfers as you mentioned our recruiters would love to come here on the first day of school if they could. Believe me they have so many positions that they cannot fill. Get your resume ready. You can go look at the Career Center’s website. They have some fantastic resume templates LinkedIn is a fantastic resource. Connect with me on LinkedIn. It’s a great resource in the fall semester when you get here. We’re going to have an event called cupcakes and head shots where we will actually give you a free head shot you can put on your profile. But take a look at some of the profiles and get used to that. Get used to documenting your achievements and look at some things that other people have listed on their links and profiles. And you know think about what it is that you want to accomplish when you get here at Berkeley you know kind of why you’re here coming to Berkeley. And you know again I can’t stress enough the need for talented engineers. And so your resume should really reflect all the achievements. So you know some students I talked to will say well I don’t have anything to put on a resume. OK. Every single admit that’s listening to this. That’s not true. You do have stuff to put on the resume. Remember your UC application that you wrote to get into this place. OK all the extracurricular activities the work experience the honors and awards put those on your resume. For those of you that are you know saying well I’m only a high school student. Well of course you’re an incoming freshman right. Put those down. Transfer students I know you’ve done a lot. I know you’ve done a lot at your community college. In addition many of our chance for students are vets. Many of our transfer students are returning students. Many of our students have had careers you know maybe before coming college put all those things down. Take a look at your transfer application and that’ s a great starting point to you know build your resume you’re LinkedIn.
LV: You know putting those together because you have to remember the resume is like this living document you’re constantly going to be going in there and really adding things to it. Taking things off of it making it better the more experiences that you get.
TR: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so get into the habit of doing that because there’s nothing worse than you know you have an opportunity that comes up and then you have to start from scratch. And given that you have this extended period of time where you’re not taking classes this is a great opportunity you know to work on your resume this summer and we can also include the link to the resume templates from the career center. Because a really really nice. They’ve done a lot of work in capturing those.
LV: So really our point for today about some preparation is not to over prepare but definitely take some time if you don’t know about coding. Learn a little bit about coding if you want to brush up on your math skills then go take a look at some of the tests or listen to a lecture and brush up on some of your skills.
TR: That’s absolutely true. And we really look forward to seeing you in the fall come visit us in ESS the center which we have is right across from where you’ll meet your ESS adviser. We have tutors we have workshops cupcakes and headshots. We have a lot of great stuff. Looking forward to meeting you all.
LV: Thank you so much for coming in today and talking to us. Really appreciate it.
TR: Thank you.
LV: Thanks and we’ll talk to you next time.