Life as a Second Year….

So the perception I had before I came to Haas was the MBA students had nothing but time on their hands. I mean, compared to working full time, going back to school was supposed to be the life of leisure – nothing but sleeping in, working out, pleasure reading, and vacations. I learned very quickly that this is not the case in my first year! Between reading for classes, working in study groups to get projects done, recruiting for internships, getting to know your fellow classmates, and taking advantage of all the top speakers coming to campus, I found myself busier that I had ever been working (albeit, having a lot more fun than working). But this was surely just a first year phenomenon, right? Once I got “promoted” to being a second year, I would be through all of it and have nothing but time on my hands….No Way!

Here is just a list of the things that have kept me busy around campus during the last two weeks:

Class – Second year classes are no cake walk! They get into deep into the subject matter and require a lot of prep. My Real Estate Finance class dug into the financing of the Rockefeller Center Buildings in 1986 and 2001 – talk about a lot of detailed prospectus reading!

Clubs – I’m involved in both the Consulting and Finance Club. This week both clubs had firm nights – so I was busy helping set up, welcoming the companies, and paying the tab on both Tuesday and Thursday nights. This is in addition to 2 hours of exhausting networking.

Talking to Applicants – I’m one of the 8 Haas Student Ambassadors and a lot of people are getting serious about applying. We’ve had tons of people at our information sessions and I’m having a lot of phone conversations about Haas. I absolutely love the position and always happy to talk about life here, but it takes a lot of time!

Golf – OK, nobody is going to cry for me with this one. I organized a beginner series of golf lessons for me and 6 classmates. This is a nice break on Wednesday afternoons, but I’m finding that between the lessons and practicing at the driving range, this golf thing is really take some hours. I figure that a lot of business is done on the golf course, so although I don’t get credit for this class, it could be the most enjoyable class I have this year…

Speakers – We do a great job getting some really big name speakers to come to campus. Just two weeks ago my favorite author, Michael Lewis, gave a talk about his new book The Big Short and some of his thoughts about Liar’s Poker and the finance industry in general. He also talked about the sequel to Moneyball that he’s currently working on. We also had an Entrepreneur’s Forum last night hosted by the Lester Center. I got to hear about some start-ups pitches and listen to two CEOs who hatched start-ups in the food industry.

Social – Just hanging out with my classmates. Seeing how my fellow second years are doing in their full-time interviews and getting a chance to meet all the new first years. There are so many cool people that you want to know and see how their doing – I find that I can talk all night, but sooner or later I need to go home and get some sleep before I have to get to class the next morning…

So what’s my advice for people who are applying? When you get into B-School, take some off before. Quit your job in May and travel or just relax for 3 months because when you get here, it’s no vacation…not even when you’re a second year with a fulltime job offer!

—Chuck Doppelt

Back Into The Swing

Spending the past year overseas far removed from the corporate world granted me many of the personal pleasures that my investment banking career so graciously stripped away during my 5-plus year tenure on Wall Street. To name a few: sleeping normal hours, walking in sunlight, eating at a table instead of inside a cubicle and, best of all, waking up when my body was ready (sans alarm clock). Yet, as good as a leisurely lifestyle is, matriculating to Haas is a very welcomed transition­. Moving to Berkeley from the Philippines; however, was not a joyful pleasure.

Long story short, moving is the worst chore ever. I’ll spare you the details. Actually, I won’t. I tried out the ‘San Francisco method’ roommate search, aka Craigslist, to hunt down the ideal living / roommate situation. I didn’t find it after 1.5 weeks and 30 apartment showings, partly because I’m picky and high maintenance but probably because I’m just not cool enough for a set of random people already living together. Not so pleasant was the short-term housing I arranged during my apartment search, listed as a ‘hotel’ which, at that address, was a euphemism for ‘halfway house’ (chair under the doorknob at night, check). I eventually found a sweet studio, though, basically on campus and right in my sweet spot for rent. So I guess it was worth the pain I put upon myself. My advice for any new student: find roommates among classmates and get a whole house for yourselves (basement, garage, backyard, deck, the works). My way was the hardway, but we aren’t playing craps in Vegas.

So, after getting my place, moving in and buying the essentials (TV, lounge chair, dishes, rice cooker, sham-WOW, etc on credit card), I am all squared away and set for O-Week next week. I did sign up and attend the two-week summer workshops, which for me was a great way to ease my body into a routine / rhythm after a long my time off. Plus, I needed some brain calisthenics. Plus plus, I’ve already met dozens of awesome people even before O-Week started! Plus plus plus, I had many afternoons off to work on the ol’ golf game at Tilden Regional Park.

With hundred-year-old redwoods, rolling hills, well groomed appointments and affordable green fees make Tilden a breathtaking gem of a public golf course in a state park in the hills just above campus. Tilden is a superb medium, along with the summer workshops, to adjust my mind and body for the MBA program and to help me get into the swing of things. Even after school starts, I can likely sneak in 9 holes before class if I can train my body to get up at 5am. Hopefully, I’ll soon get my score back into the double digits and perfect an all to critical business skill.


Indian Rock & Tilden

It was another gorgeous day, so Simona & I took advantage of it.

I had heard of Indian Rock Park, but never made it there until this weekend. We headed over and parked at the corner of Solano Ave and The Alameda.

Solano covers a long stretch between Berkeley and Albany. It’s a nice neighborhood with plenty of shops, eateries, markets, and more. After a quick stop at Noah’s Bagels, where we grabbed food for a picnic lunch, we headed up Indian Rock Path.

Indian Rock Path starts at the northwest corner of Solano and The Alameda.

It’s a quiet and secluded path that wanders up between the neighborhood houses towards Indian Rock Park. We passed by several houses, meeting families and couples along the way.

We reached the park, then climbed to the top of Indian Rock. Indian Rock is a volcanic rock left over from another time.

A wise developer in the early 1900’s left a few parcels containing the volcanic rocks to the city as parks, preserving them for future generations. There are steps carved into the rock from two directions, making the approach easy. For those seeking a challenge, the rock is also known as a local climbing spot.

Perched at the top, we broke out our lunch and enjoyed a great view of the bay area, including great views stretching from the Oakland Hills, Downtown Oakland, the Port of Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, San Francisco and the Bay, Berkeley Marina, Albany, and Richmond. You can even see the Campanile. It’s a gorgeous spot and apparently a favorite spot for Berkeley teens to watch the submarine races at night.

A while later, after a visit from the Green Goblin, soaking in some rays, and enjoying our lunch, we climbed down and wandered around the neighborhood a bit.

There are some amazing houses in Berkeley and the area around Indian Rock is no exception. I particularly enjoy the old stone street signs around Berkeley, left over from another era.

After wondering back to the car, we headed further up the hills.

It’s unfortunately been a while since I last used my sticks. I have no idea why, but I’ve been avoiding the links for some time. So Simona & I hit the range at Tilden Park Golf Course to get back into the swing of things.

We located ourselves on the quiet lower level and with a jumbo bucket of balls began to swing away. It felt great and my swing was dead on. Just when things couldn’t get any better….

BANG ratttlerattlerattlerattlerattle BANG rattlerattlerattlerattle plop.

It started to rain golf balls. Some poor soul at the upper level must have been topping the ball, sending it arcing into the steel awning that protects the middle level from upper level errant balls. The golf ball then rolled down the awning, dropped onto the awning between the lower lever and the middle level, rolled along, then dropped onto the turf in front of me.

At first I didn’t pay much attention, but it kept happening.

BANG ratttlerattlerattlerattlerattle BANG rattlerattlerattlerattle plop.

My ears became finely tuned to the sound and I was able to detect where in front of me it would fall. The folks around me started to enjoy the action and laugh with the rhythmic sound of the descending ball following each swing of the poor golfer above. Having some fun, I set out a basket in front of me to catch the balls. Precariously leaning beyond the yellow line of death, I pushed the basket further and further out. One of the basket collectors at Tilden even stopped by to watch the action.

Sadly, just as I set the basket into the favored ball-drop location, our golfer stopped. Either the golfer ran out of balls or someone rightly stopped the madness.

Simona & I shortly finished up our bucket and moseyed back up to the car, trying to spot the errant golfer, but no luck.

On the way back to Berkeley, we stopped by the new Berkeley Hills fire station near the corner of Shasta and Grizzly Peak. Finished in November of 2006, it’s a beautiful wood and concrete structure designed by local architect Marcy Wong. It caught our eye on the way to Tilden and we were curious.

We parked in front of the station and started to chat up two of the firemen in front. Before you knew it, we were on our own private behind the scenes tour of the station. The station is a real beauty, elegantly and green-designed and comes with the only firefighter pole in the area.

During the tour of the station, I noticed another firefighter watching a wrestling meet on TV. Rather surprised, I asked if he wrestled, and indeed he had in the 130 & 135 weight classes. After announcing that I had once wrestled in the 140 & 145 classes in high school, our guide chimed in that he too once wrestled in the 145 weight class in high school. I knew these guys were all right, but the wrestling confirmed it for me.

Fortunately, I didn’t announce I was a Chargers fan until the end, when we were back out front enjoying the last minutes of the afternoon. Once the word Chargers came out, I discovered that our tour guide was none other than Raider Greg, host of That’s when I realized that some Oakland Raider fans are all right.

After a bit, we said our good byes and headed back down the hill. It’s the unexpected things that turn an ordinary day into a great day.

—Colin C.