We are now about two weeks into “Fall B”, the second half-semester of the fall. This brings a whole new roster of classes and professors. But for me the change to Fall B seems deeper than that.
Orientation Week and “Fall A” were a whirlwind of meeting new people. In Fall A you get a glimpse into the personalities of a good number of your classmates. You meet them socially and also learn a little about their career aspirations and what brought them here.
With Fall B underway, I’ve spent more time connecting with classmates who share similar career interests. In Fall A you are mostly passive participants in the student clubs, as you try to figure out the clubs and activities that you want to join. But in Fall B we start to take on responsibility in those clubs and activities. A few hours of my week are now devoted to working with my classmates to organize the Berkeley-Stanford Cleantech Conference and the 2011 Berkeley Business Plan competition.
We also just started a communications class in Fall B. We each gave a three minute speech about ourselves to a small group of our classmates, including our study groups. Our five-person study groups have been working together since the beginning of school, so we already know each other fairly well.
Or so I thought. Those speeches blew me away. Everyone shared very personal life details, and we discussed our hopes and vulnerabilities in a way that made me appreciate the depth of connection which is already forming. The point of the communications class is to help us hone our public speaking skills. For class purposes, speech content is secondary. But I couldn’t help but dwell on the content of what my classmates shared about themselves.
By class rule I can’t share the details of those speeches. But I can relate an example of how much, by Fall B, you have become invested in your classmates’ success. One of my classmates, Assaf, shares common interests in entrepreneurship and energy. He is always checking in and asking me about my progress in getting out and talking to people. He has taken a real interest in helping me define and pursue career opportunities. He is in my cohort, so we see each other in class every day. He is always cheerfully willing to help me. On those days when I miss the friends and family that I left in the Midwest, it’s really motivating to know that someone you met only two months ago is genuinely interested in seeing you succeed.
Assaf recently interviewed for a prestigious program at Berkeley called the Mayfield Fellows. When the text showed up on my phone that he was invited into the program, an hour later we were at Beckett’s pub in downtown Berkeley clanging our pints of Guinness together in celebratory toast. I was incredibly happy to see him get this opportunity. I also realized how invested I had become in his success.
For me, that’s what Fall B has been about: moving beyond introductions and mixers, and becoming invested in Haas and in my classmates’ success.