What I’ve Learned in Berkeley So Far

Stephens HallComing into a space like Berkeley I always knew I would grow as a person. And not to be cliche but I really do feel like Berkeley has pushed me forward so much, and I really do believe it is different from other colleges. 


One: There are so many communities on campus that actively work towards making an impact in their world. 


In my mind I always dream of making a difference and having a purpose in life beyond my own. And to this day I fight for what I believe in and want to shape my future years in education and career to align with my values. Over the course of a year as a Haas public service leader through the Public Service Center, I was able to meet a collective of passionate people who were organizing and working with community organizations to help undocumented high schoolers with legal papers, research legislation on the housing crisis in Berkeley, create pathways for indigenous people to come from Australia to the United States, and so much more. 


I am continually inspired by this group of students – and students outside of this space who are doing so much for the community that are close to their hearts and heritage. Seeing individuals on campus really understand their roots and want to push the boundaries of social work and organizing while they pursue their degrees has reassured me that I can also work towards the same.


Two: The worst that can happen is someone says no.


I’ve always been told and been comfortable with blending into the background. And it can be really tough to receive rejections to whatever you apply to, whether that be a student organization, scholarship, a research position, or even a job– Trust me, I’ve had my fair share so far in my 4 semesters at Cal so far. Being rejected for clubs my first few semesters really dejected me to where I didn’t really feel like trying to go for them again. Now however, my attitude is completely different. I think over the past few weeks I’ve learned to bite down my pride and just ‘shoot my shot’ at every internship offer for this summer. It was super nerve wracking and I also was disappointed when I would get no responses or get a notification on handshake that read ‘XYZ has decided to move on with their application process …” But despite all the times I have gotten rejected from a position, I remembered that there’s a 0% chance if I don’t try at all. 


The worst that can happen when you’re applying for anything is that you get rejected. And even in that process you can learn and grow, because it gives you an opportunity to humble yourself and ask how you can be better. 


Three: Be proud of where you are and what you bring to the table.


I didn’t learn how to be confident and proud of what work I am doing until very recently. It’s easy to forget all the accomplishments and validity you have in a body of 40,000 students where some are olympians or math geniuses. But in searching for myself over the last year, I’ve realized that there are people who are willing to trust in my work and support me. I’ve learned how to be unapologetic in spaces that I belong in, to display what I know and be confident in my passions and vision for the future. I think that realizing that you are just as amazing as the next person can be difficult – it doesn’t show only through numerical metrics or resumes – but having the confidence – or even the confidence to fake confidence – can be such a game changer. 


I earnestly do believe that Berkeley offers so many resources and classes to grow professionally. But some of the invaluable lessons I’ve experienced so far in our rigorous institution is not how to derive a function or visualize data. It was how I view myself in comparison to others, and how I have the capabilities to impact change in the world regardless of what others may be doing. I am continually inspired by my peers and their good work, and hope that others who are at or wanting to come to Berkeley experiences the same. 

Author: Jiyoo Jeong

Hello! My name is Jiyoo and I am a second year at Cal studying Business, Statistics, and Computer Science. Other than burying myself in problem sets and projects, you might find me writing and drawing while snuggled in bed and watching Netflix or probing through thrift stores. I also enjoy my days when I get to go to SF to volunteer to help increase digital and art literacy and get to spend time on the weekends running a female entrepreneurs accelerator with Berkeley Skydeck! I hope you can read some of my experiences and be inspired to make your own at Berkeley!