Written by Annie Wang.

Earlier this month on Wednesday, October 10th, the Haas Undergraduate Black Business Association hosted its first annual Professional Networking Dinner. The purpose of the event was to have an evening of community, professional development and cross industry networking. This event was extremely important to the Berkeley Haas community because it was a place where underrepresented students could get exposure to opportunities.

Frances James, the president said the reason for putting on this event was because “I felt that the Black community lacks opportunities that majority communities get frequently. We don’t necessarily get opportunities like this, a place where underrepresented minority students get first hand access to professionals in all industries.”

There was a great turnout. Every seat in the venue was filled with students and professionals. Companies that attended included Lyft, EY, Deloitte, Tesla, PayPal, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and many more were present at the event. It was clear from the moment I stepped into Anna Head Alumnae Hall just how much planning, hard work, blood, sweat and tears went into the event. There was strong energy, passion and a sense of warmth in the room that is unique to HUBBA and this community. Everybody was there to support one another and build relationships.

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I began planning this dinner back in June when I brought the idea up to HUBBA’s Senior Advisor Cole. You could tell that he thought that this was a huge dream of mine. He said yes and had faith in me. From there I began planning all of the logistics, picking the date, location, introducing the idea to sponsors, etc. I personally spent countless hours putting together this event and we could not have pulled it off without the other 11 amazing members of the HUBBA executive board. All of the hours, meetings, stress, small details, etc. truly paid off!

Dr. Jennifer R. Cohen, the Keynote Speaker, brought a powerful speech on the importance of failure and what she calls “The squiggle path to success”. In just 30 minutes, she had took members of the audience on an emotional roller coaster as she described her background, and how every instance of failure has led her to where she is today. You looked around and people were laughing, crying, and in awe of a topic that is well known, but taboo to speak about. In closing she highlighted that success is never linear, and to embrace “the squiggle”. After her long and well deserved applause, there were lines of students and professionals waiting to speak with Dr. Cohen. Among all of the things that HUBBA did right, the Keynote Speaker was definitely one!

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jennifer R. Cohen 

There is a saying: you can’t be what you can’t see. For some students on the Berkeley Haas campus, this rings true. The Professional Networking Dinner is an event set out to change that and help the Black community see what they can be. I’m excited to see what other positive impacts this organization is going to have on the community, and how the Professional Networking Dinner will grow next year. Thank you for all of your hard work HUBBA!

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