Written by Ellen Oh.

How the Social Came to Be…

Back at Berkeley in the summer, GMP held informational meetings every Wednesday. In one of the meetings, Meg Roundy, Associate Director, Student-Alumni Relations, taught us how to contact Berkeley Haas alumni overseas through the Berkeley Haas website. After, I made constant efforts to contact Mr. Callaghan and Mr. Hasan, presidents of the London Berkeley Haas alumni, to schedule a meeting with them. By the second week of studying abroad, I received a welcoming email from Mr. Callaghan to attend an alumni social in London’s West End. I met with five other alumni at a botanical bar and we swapped visions and stories.

I was inspired to bring the Berkeley Haas alumni to GMP students. At the end of the alumni social, I proposed that I plan their next social at ACCENT, our study abroad center. The social would include a panel of alumni for a Q&A session where students could freely network with any alumni. This past Thursday, five alumni and the inaugural GMP students finally met and received the opportunity to share our concerns and insights on our studies, interests, and potentials.

What Were GMP Curious About?

Many GMP students were extremely interested in the alumni’s experiences. Alexandra Mourad a GMP student asked, “How did you you get where you are now and how your experiences in London has been so far?” Another student asked, Savanna Alejandra: “I think this is all really new for us and we don’t really know what pathways are available so I wonder what everyone’s stories are so it can provide an opportunity to know potential pathways…” This was a great learning experience for GMP. Beyond from gaining advices on college life, the students gained insights on future careers, realistic goals, and opportunities overseas.

Alumni Thoughts: So now I’m in Berkeley Haas, Where’s My Promised Future?

From speaking with alumni, I was able to get this: Berkeley Haas is a dream come true for many business majors, but that doesn’t mean that everything is going to be handed to you on a silver spoon. One of the best things about Berkeley Haas is that it doesn’t hand-hold. You build up the resilience and resourcefulness to seek out your own opportunities. Working hard is inevitable here, but your hard work will pay off. Peter Zarand, founder of Brand Guard, a Saas Startup said, “I thought Berkeley Haas was going to give me the answer of what to do with my life.” But it will not be long until we realized that within Berkeley Haas we will  confronted with new concerns and struggles as we search to define our future.

Meeting with the alumni made me realize that the next steps of my live does not get more predictable or easier with age or knowledge. Peter Zarand, although now a successful CEO, admitted he once “had no idea what I wanted to do so I chose consulting.” He shared that he realized he got to where he is because of “a series of choices but also a series of luck.”

Ali Hasan Butt, head of marketing planning at British American Tobacco, agrees that we might often live feeling “like the next step might give you the ‘ah ha’ moment.” But soon we come to realize that “you may never know what you want to do with your life [because] it changes all the time.” The first step would be to recognize the ambiguity of life and then tackling things one at a time. Hasan advised us too that we will eventually find ourselves through fulfilling meaningful goals.

Alumni Thoughts: How to Choose a Career?

When it comes to deciding our pathways, Zarand placed an importance on “[choosing] a career where it does not feel like you are working.” So, how do we do that? First, learn to be comfortable with challenges. Always strive for and be comfortable with classes or opportunities that may be a little more challenging that what we are used to. College is still a stimulus with a set system and structure where we can experiment, exploit, and explore with a safety net below us. Jueyan Zheng, the portfolio manager at BlackRock, encouraged us to go out and take the classes where we get mental blocks in just to get over the fear of the challenge. Challenging ourselves is a way of improving ourselves. Paul Callaghan, Global Chief Operating Officer of pi-top said, “I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow older…nobody has to know we just have to keep moving forward.” Moving forward enables us to encounter opportunities that inspire us to realize the career we want to do, but moving forward can also be scary. GMP members learned that moving forward may be scary when we do not know what to expect from our next steps. From, 21 Lesson for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, when you’re being the best version of you then things happen on their own, even if it is on the road not taken.

Alumni Thoughts: Advantages of Working Overseas

According to Mr. Callaghan who has been living abroad for many years, “being in a different country is a great way to take a step to look at your home country from a different perspective. It gives you an opportunity to look at it with a different set of eyes and look at other cultures which gives you another perspective of the world. You’re immersing yourself in a different country, figuring out what is different about different cultures, different countries, and different languages.” This sounds like a once in a lifetime experience.

In Conclusion

No advice in this world may have helped us figure out our exact next steps in life, but the most important advice for us would be to not fear not knowing the next steps to our lives. Life moves on and our job is to make the most out of the present moments. One day we’ll look back to a collection of successes and failures that make up who we are and shape our future lives out.

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