Many colleges, especially big public schools like UC Berkeley that focus heavily on professional development, have a bustling culture centered around student-run organizations. There are clubs for everything ranging from consulting, pre-health, to putting on speaker events. Every year the competition to get into these student orgs becomes more and more ridiculous since there’s so much interest, and as a result the application processes becomes longer and longer.
While the prospect of a written application, resume, two interviews, and social round seems quite daunting, there are common themes that every club will look for in applicants, two of which I hope to share with you that I believe are the most important. It’s not about the number of organizations you apply to that determines whether you’ll get into a club, but the amount of time and quality in the ones that you do submit.
Genuine interest in the organization
This sounds quite simple, but as somebody who has been on the evaluating side of club apps, it is painfully obvious when the applicant copy-pasted the same template for each of their student org applications. Having a real interest in an org doesn’t mean you glanced at their website for a couple of minutes and wrote down some vague answers about how they do non-profit consulting. Even though there are a lot of clubs on campus who do similar things, you’ll find that each has a specific mission statement that guides everything they do.
For example, TEDx and the Berkeley Forum are both huge clubs on campus that put on speaker events (I am involved in both of these clubs - ask me about them!). The two orgs couldn’t be more different though — TEDx is about planning one major multi-speaker event every year with a centralized theme while the Berkeley Forum is huge on non-partisanship and multiple single speaker events spaced throughout the semester. Each org has different values, social cultures, and professional development tracks. You need to make sure that you know these subtle details. Come prepared for the written application and interviews with a deep understanding of what kind of events/clients/social culture the org is all about, and you’ll have a much better chance of getting in than if you just used the same template for multiple orgs.
Engaging Current Members
Every student org will have info sessions before their applications open to let people know what their club is all about, after which there will always be time to ask questions to current members in the org about their experiences. Use this time and any other chances you may get (ie: coffee chats) to speak to as many people in the org as possible and to ask really creative and specific questions about the work that they do. It’s so important to make yourself memorable during these kinds of opportunities since there aren’t very many of them. Also always remember to be respectful and conscious of how your actions may appear to members. There have been many times where I have watched applicants get cut because they use micro aggressions during interviews or ignore members during information sessions. First impressions matter, and make sure you’re prepared to give everyone a great one.
If you have any questions about club recruiting, Berkeley organizations, or interview tips for club interviews, definitely schedule a College and Career Coaching Call with me. Good luck!
David is a Consultant on the Study Hall College Consulting team. David is currently a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley studying Economics and minoring in Data Science. Going into his junior year of college (Fall 2019), David transferred from UC Santa Barbara to UC Berkeley. For more application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.