A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about ideas of what to do if you found yourself on campus for spring break without anything to do. But I did not write about another option for some students: staying on campus for a specific program that you chose to do for educational or professional reasons. In my case, me and 14 other students stayed on campus this spring break, spending most of it in a mostly empty building on our mostly empty campus, to attend a program called Democracy Camp. Democracy Camp was a program designed to help students start careers in public service where we got to meet people in various careers, have networking opportunities, and learn about how to start a career in these fields.
One of the great things we were able to do was go to Sacramento and meet with various people in government, including both elected representatives and staffers. On the other days we heard from people who worked in other public service careers such as philanthropy and community organization. We also had outside speakers come in to talk to us about networking on LinkedIn and graduate school.
The experience was overall very informative about some possible career paths I could follow in the future. I now feel much better prepared to pursue a future in one of the careers they talked about. Over the course of the 4 day camp, we heard a lot of advice from people who had been in our same shoes years or decades before us and that was very helpful to hear stories of people who had been successful in their careers from similar beginnings as us.
However, I do not feel this was the most helpful program for me specifically. It was very focused on political paths and framed some of the jobs we learned about as stepping stones on the way to being elected. Since I am not really interested in running for political office, about half of the days in this camp did not really apply to me. When applying to this camp, I thought there would be a larger range of careers discussed.
Furthermore, I am an out of state student, so unlike many of the other in state students in the camp, I was unable to go home to see my parents at the end of the week. Although I didn’t think it would be a problem in my sophomore year of college when I have lived away from home for 2 years to not see my family for one week, by the end of the week, I was wishing I had chosen to spend my break either in a way where I could see my family or at least in a way where I could spend the whole week relaxing or doing something closer to my intended career.
I am not saying this was a bad program, this was an amazing program. But there are so many options of how to spend breaks here I wish I had chosen something more applicable to my career goals. On the last day of Democracy Camp, they showed us other programs for semesters and breaks that we might want to apply to next year. Hearing about those programs, I am amazed at the different options Berkeley offers for breaks and I might want to stay for next spring break too, just with a program that better matches my interests.