Undergraduates Combine Networking with Fun

Homework. Experiential learning seminars. Midterms and finals. A group of students in the Haas School Undergraduate Program is adding a little social networking to that busy academic mix in an effort to create a stronger sense of community within the program.

For the first time, the incoming class of 375 Haas undergraduates was organized into six cohorts that are participating in different activities and playful competitions every month.

This month will include an ice skating retreat at the Oakland Ice Center on Nov. 10 and a pre-Thanksgiving feast with Haas "family" on Nov. 22. Throughout November, students will compete in a food drive competition for the Alameda County Food Bank, with drop-off boxes in the Undergraduate Program office. On Dec. 8, students will sweeten finals week with an ice cream social. At the end of the year, the cohort with the most points gathered from the various competitions will win a prize.

“It's hard to get people together, especially in such a competitive school where there are professional networking events and papers," says Yuliya Sas, BS 11, president of the Haas Business School Association, who has led the effort to organize the cohort activities. "But I find value in these social events because they help build a community."

The Undergraduate Program decided to create smaller cohorts of students–similar to the cohorts in the MBA programs–when it changed its start time this year from July back to the beginning of the fall semester.

"We heard from our students that they wanted more opportunities to network with their peers outside of class," explains Undergraduate Program Director Erika Walker. "We thought that creating these smaller groups would help students get to know each other better in an organized, yet fun setting outside of their classes."

The events also offer students an opportunity to learn from each other. In October, juniors and seniors met at an informational/social forum in which students learned about various internships and classes. Later in the month, undergraduates participated in an evening scavenger hunt and quiz in which they had to uncover fun facts about Haas.

For more information about the cohort activities, including how to get involved, visit hbsa.berkeley.edu.