DeCals are one of the hallmarks of UC Berkeley’s curriculum: these student-run courses provide a platform for students to explore their interests and develop new ones. Many DeCals are pure fun; some are more practical, and some are both. Here, we will highlight some of this semester’s DeCals that offer resume-building skills in a variety of disciplines. Keep in mind, however, that the add/drop deadline is Sept. 12, and some of these courses may be full. Many DeCals are offered every semester though, so keep these in mind as you plan your coming semesters!
To start, a number of DeCals are career-related at the outset, geared toward different techniques that will help you secure a job. “The Workshop: Interview Prep & Job Success” is a course structured around professional development in business settings, with classes focusing on interview and communication skills and preparing for the professional world at large — all with the goal of preparing students with the skills to secure a job or internship. “The Nitty-Gritty of Networking” focuses on a similar subject area of professionalism but with greater emphasis on skills related directly to being successful at making professional connections. “Digital Marketing Today” approaches professional skills through the world of marketing, working to develop LinkedIn profiles and improving online presence through social media.
There are three DeCals that are specifically directed toward languages in the health care world. “Sign Language in Healthcare” aims to teach new words and phrases applicable to health care, while mitigating negative interactions that can occur between deaf patients and medical practitioners. The “Medical Spanish DeCal” deals with a similar subject matter but teaches students health care-related terms in Spanish. According to its DeCal description, the course aims to prepare students for real-life situations and “break down the barrier between doctors and patients.” The third medical-adjacent language course is “French For Future Doctors and Scientists,” which requires a background in French language and is designed to prepare students for careers necessitating specialized French skills. These courses could be a great opportunity for those interested in health-related careers and could really expand your expertise to be competitive in the field and help make health care spaces more inclusive.
If you’re interested in the arts, there are a number of DeCals involving music, specific artists and other disciplines. The “Music Production 101” course includes instruction on a variety of music-related skills, including learning to use Ableton, a music production software, culminating in the production of a four-track EP. In a similar vein, the “Introduction to Radio Journalism” DeCal has an emphasis on technical skills — students will pitch, report and edit stories that they can add to their portfolios. On the written arts side, “Small Press Publishing: Berkeley Fiction Review” is a mainstay of DeCal season and offers the chance to learn about small publishing from the bottom up, as students review and choose pieces for the publication of the Review’s annual journal.
One of campus’s service-based DeCals is the “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance” DeCal, which facilitates students providing free income tax filings for low-income communities around the East Bay and in San Francisco. This DeCal is yearlong, with the first semester focused on instruction and completion of the basic certification test via the IRS. The second semester involves fieldwork, as students will work at sites throughout tax season.
There are also various tech-related DeCals that focus on certain applications to potentially put under the “skills” portion of your resume. The “iOS DeCal” is an introduction to application software for iPads and iPhones, culminating in the development of a custom app and instruction in various Apple frameworks. In another CS-adjacent DeCal, “Linux Sysadmin DeCal” covers materials to establish proficiency in GNU/Linux and the role of sysadmins. This course has both beginner and advanced tracks, so there are options no matter what your background is. While it is registered as an “arts” course, the “Brand Identity Graphic Design DeCal” combines art with the technical skills of Adobe and Photoshop. Through choosing a brand identity, students will work to visualize their ideas through the tools of graphic design.
Many DeCals also offer general introductions to various career paths, from health care to engineering. These could be good opportunities to explore a potential career path and learn from other students about how their career goals have developed. Check out DeCals such as “Music Business Masterclass,” “Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering” and “PreMed 101” for primers in those respective areas.
Another thing to consider: DeCals themselves can be a resume booster! If there’s something you’re passionate about, a DeCal could be a great chance to hone in your interests around a communicable curriculum and an opportunity to channel your interests in a leadership position.
DeCals are a great opportunity to expand your field of knowledge, and there are more than 140 courses this year, all of which contribute to some sort of interesting skill. Sometimes the best way to boost your resume is to go outside of your comfort zone, so definitely check all of them out as you get ready for future semesters, or add a last class before the add/drop deadline.
Camryn Bell is the special issues editor. Contact her at