I arrived at UC Berkeley Extension to take part in the Professional Diploma Program in Digital Marketing, with almost four years of work experience in another field. Entering an academic environment after working for such a long period, made me encounter many challenges.
Learning Through Career Development
One of the hardest things I’ve had to do is re-learn everything I already knew about careers and job environments. As international students, coming in from different walks of life, the thing that I feel the program has done so well is to offer an intensive Career Development class, which aims to train students in all the essential skills needed before entering the U.S. job environment.
Things are so different here from back in India, right from the resume formats, to the type of information you put in cover letters and even the dimensions of the page you print these documents in! You could argue that the Internet has all of this information, ready to be used, but as I’m sure you’re aware of now, the abundance of information is usually a hindrance to getting accurate, useful information in the end.
So the impact that the Career Development class had on us was incredibly eye-opening. I especially loved the guest speakers from different industries such as neuromarketing and tech, to name a few. This is the type of real-world, practical experience I hoped to receive when I came to Berkeley, and I’m glad to say I got it!
Getting Into the Groove of Studying
After working a 9-to-5 job for three years, you can imagine how difficult it would be to get back into the groove of hitting the books and juggling assignments and group projects. A great resource for keeping up with these readings, assignments and tests has been the numerous libraries at the UC Berkeley main campus. So many libraries that there’s always one on the horizon, anywhere you go on the campus.
There’s an energy that university libraries have, and an intensity, that’s hard to describe. Also, it doesn't hurt that the libraries on campus are incredibly pleasing to look at, each in their own way. Like Instagram influencer accounts, each of these libraries stay true to their particular virtual aesthetic.
The Morrison Library (which looks exactly like the Gryffindor common room) has a "cozy den with an active fireplace on a rainy day" vibe at all times.
On the other hand, the Doe Memorial library—with its cool white marble interiors, and long intimidating rows of books that seem to go on —is one of the libraries that could successfully double as a renovated Greek architecture building.
There’s also the East Asian library for the days when you need to cram for a big test. It kind of looks and feels like an Asian Medieval castle in the best possible way. Basically, there’s a library for every mood!
On pleasant days (I’m talking sunshine, clear skies, with birds chirping and bells chiming) when I don’t want to be cooped up in buildings, I like to just plop myself down on one of the spacious lawns on campus and have study picnics with friends or even by myself.
There’s also gorgeous outdoor cafes on campus like Caffe Strada and Cafe Milano if you’re in the mood for something like a caramel espresso brownie to wake you up. Being in California, the weather is pleasant most of the year and these are great ways to take advantage of it.
Making the Most Out of Your Classroom Experience
But it’s not all challenges, all the time. Having work experience can also give you a significant edge and lets you make the most out of your educational experience. It helps you identify the areas you are confident in and the areas where you’d like more in-depth knowledge.
The professors, most of them being industry professionals, are easy to interact with, and have insightful conversations on topics ranging from the subject matter discussed in class to any long-standing questions you might have had relating to your career or previous educational experiences.
I’ve personally nurtured good relationships with my professors, which I’m sure will help me with my career and beyond!