Humans of Haas: Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith is a junior transfer at Haas from Nashville, Tennessee. Having served in the US Navy for over 12 years, Jeremy is now a first generation student veteran at Berkeley, in addition to being a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar. He is interested in the management consulting field.
Why and how did you choose Haas?
I did some research on what the top undergraduate business programs were in the country, and then geared all my studies towards making it here. I came to visit Haas while in the application process and it just felt right. It has this level of mystique that spoke to my soul.
Your educational journey is pretty nontraditional – what has been the most challenging aspect of your path?
I would say it would have to be coming back to school after so long away from a traditional setting. I did have the benefit of working in a highly technical field within the Navy that focused on continual learning, however that doesn’t prepare you for being asked about trigonometry concepts you learned 20 years ago. I’d say that I’ve enjoyed the journey and it’s been so nice to see so many youthful and motivated students in my classes.
Is there a theme or philosophy that drives your work ethic?
Get Busy. I had those words printed out and taped to the ceiling of my rack, which is a bed in the Navy. To me it means get to work – don’t wait for the work to do itself or be done by someone else. I had a great example set by both of my parents. Seeing them up before the sun a lot of the time and working until late into the night had a profound impact on me. With that, you never know who you may inspire or how hard your competition is working, so get busy. Work efficiently and make time for fun, relationships, and passions outside of work. Balance is key.
You’ve worked as a programs recruiter in the Navy in the nuclear field and led volunteering and community outreach efforts within the Navy. What is the most important thing that you learned from those experiences?
Recruiting – like a jib or a sail on the front of the sailboat – can change the trajectory of someone’s life. It was a fun job, and I got to see firsthand the impact of my efforts when people I recruited came to work for me. That said, when I joined the Navy I didn’t have a permanent address and was crashing on couches when I could and in my car most nights. Showering at gyms and truck stops was the norm. I vividly remember sleeping so well my first night in boot camp because it was my first night in a bed in a long time. That experience definitely provided me with the motivation to give back and work to lift up those within the Veteran community and those who lacked housing. The joy that you get from the brightening up of a day from someone within those communities is ethereal. With that, I would say to anyone, it is important to give back – especially where it means the most to you.
As a student and veteran, are you able to stay connected to both communities as Haas?
I find that it’s very easy to stay connected to the Veteran community, especially with those that I was fortunate enough to personally serve with. There are a ton of organizations that bring us together, like the Veteran’s Center on campus, and outside organizations, like the Veterans Golf Association, which is a national organization that brings together Veterans on the golf course and helps us to get back to the camaraderie we felt while serving. I find that staying connected with my fellow students is very easy, and similar to my time serving, we can connect with each other through the lessons we are learning and commiserate over the last test or the next one. I try to meet new people daily, and so far, that has been my favorite part of being back in school.
What is some advice you would give to your past self?
Don’t be so hard on yourself, meet more strangers and do things that make you feel uncomfortable, write more letters, drink more water, and learn how to sing and play an instrument so you can be a rockstar and not a business student. Buy more concert tickets.
- Early bird or night owl? Depending on what I have going on, I can and will do both, especially if something fun is going on.
- Favorite study spot on campus? Empty classrooms or the library
- Hobbies? Golf, road trips, camping, live events – concerts, art exhibits, plays, sports events, writing haikus
- Favorite song? Pyro by Kings of Leon and Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye
- Favorite place on campus? Anywhere with a view of Campanile or the big lobby in the Miners building – the third floor of the lobby has both
- Favorite place to eat? East Bay Spice Company for the Tikka Masala chicken sandwich
- Favorite class? UGBA 159 – Becoming a Changemaker Leadership with Alex Budak