Humans of Haas: Jake Curhan
Jake is a senior studying in Haas with a minor in City Planning from the College of Environmental Design. He grew up in Marin County and was recruited to the Cal football team as an offensive lineman. Jake has an interest in architecture, real estate and plans to pursue a professional football career upon his graduation in December.
- Can you tell us about your background and how it has influenced you being a student in Haas?
I grew up in Corte Madera, in Marin County, in the same house my whole life with my parents and two older brothers. Every summer I went to a Jewish summer camp on the east coast that my dad had grown up going to. I had a good childhood, playing a lot of sports. Skiing was my main sport, which many people are shocked to hear, due to my sheer size. I started playing football in high school. I wasn’t really good at it freshman year or sophomore year. Then one of my friends who was a grade older than me and received a scholarship to play at Arizona, took me under and the next thing you know, I was getting better during junior year. After that season, I had some interest from schools and I decided to come to Cal. Growing up in the Bay Area, I had so many friends’ parents who were either Berkeley or Haas graduates, whereas both of my parents were from the east coast, and my older brothers chose to go to school out east. But taking football into consideration and how good of a school it was, I was really driven to come to school here.
- How has your career path changed from when you entered UC Berkeley and after Berkeley Haas?
In my high school, we had a 3D printer and laser cutter in the woodshop area. We had a class offered on architectural design where we used computer programs like SketchUp and Autodesk Revit to build 3D models and the laser cutter to cut out our projects and piece together as a model. I thought I wanted to do some architecture at Berkeley but I quickly learned that doing architecture was going to be almost impossible on top of an athletic schedule. I started taking other classes in CED and found interests outside of architecture. I wanted to take less common breadth courses and took an art history class for my history breadth, as well as an intro to public health course, which have been some of the best classes I’ve taken in my 5 years here. I’m really glad I chose Haas in the end, but also grateful I got to experience other classes on campus.
For my career interests, I really enjoyed my City Planning courses, seeing the different codes cities have and how they are all connected. Last year, I took UGBA 180, Intro to Real Estate and Urban Land Economics. In this class, we were visited by a couple of executives from a real estate investment firm in San Francisco, Hamilton Zanze. They focused on short term changes in properties to then reinvest in other properties, and I thought this was the coolest thing, because they redefined commercial real estate for me. During a summer internship at the real estate firm, Newmark Knight Frank in Walnut Creek, I did market research and helped with projects on properties in the Bay, applying the skills I learned from UGBA 180.
- Can you tell us about something outside of football and academics that you’ve been working on?
After an early 7 AM workout, I was scrolling on LinkedIn and there was a 2 minute clip from Hakeem Valles, who played in the NFL for about 3 years. He talked about how when he was in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, he used an FHA loan to buy a fourplex and generated a couple hundred bucks a month on this property, on top of his NFL salary. I thought this was so cool and sent him a message to connect and I set up a phone call with him to ask him about his real estate investments. Our conversation went much less into real estate direction than I thought it would, and we talked about capitalizing on your brand as a collegiate student athlete. He told me he wished he had started a podcast in college and it stuck in my head and when the conversation ended, I began the process to start a podcast.
I reached out to Yogi Roth, who works at PAC-12 Networks, has his own podcast, works as an analyst for the PAC-12, and makes documentaries about finding the humanity in sport. Between talking to these two guys, I decided to reach out to people I found interesting and who I wanted to learn from. I spent some time researching how to start, and bought some $30 microphones on Amazon and was on my way. I spent my past two summers recording and editing and ended up with 14 episodes. It was a far from perfect podcast, but I was learning by continuously doing it. I’m taking a bit of a hiatus from my first podcast and am working towards another podcast project that will be unveiled soon.
- As a quarantined graduating senior, are there any Professors you will specifically miss in Berkeley Haas?
I’ve had Professor Todd Fitch for Intellectual Property and Microeconomics. He’s a quirky fellow, but it’s so much fun to be in a classroom with him. I unfortunately did not have a class with him this semester, but ran into him a few times and it was great to catch up with him and see what was going in his life, because there’s always something interesting going on. This semester I’m taking UGBA 106 with Professor Janet Brady, who is amazing. I love that class and I’m bummed we have to finish it up online, but it’s good to see her online, because she is hilarious. And how could we forget Professor Stephen Etter. I’ve had lots of interactions with him at the football facilities, so I have been missing seeing him around.
- How have you been doing during the COVID-19 quarantine time and how has the pandemic affected you?
This year was slated to be a very big year for me! It still is, but with a couple of road bumps. What was supposed to happen, was at the end of December 2020, I would have graduated and finished with my last football season. After graduation, I was going to enter the NFL Draft. Everything shut down 4 practices into our spring practice, where we’re learning a new offense from our new offensive coordinator, who was previously working with the Broncos and the Raiders. There are things I know I wanted to better, like playing 10 pounds lighter than I had previously, working on my flexibility. But here we are stuck at home.
I was not very productive at the start of quarantine. Once I started realizing how serious the situation was, I decided to stay in Berkeley because my roommates are still here and I would have the incentive to be more productive around them. Our offensive line coach assigned us The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy. From the first few chapters, as corny as some of it was, I found a ton of useful stuff and felt very motivated. Since starting the book, my quarantine life has been much more productive. I start off with a checklist of things I want to get done for the day, and at the end of the day, I go through to hold myself accountable for what I had done during the day. I start the day waking up at 6 AM to go for a workout with my roommates and the rest of the day focusing on eating how I want to and staying on top of my classes. So I have been very pleased with my quarantine productivity as of late.