When I first arrived at UC Berkeley, the coastal landscape, artistic culture and rich history enamored me. They told everyone in my GBO group, but orientation never prepared me for the students’ hustle culture. They were interning at startups before their 8 a.m. classes, were members of clubs that had three rounds of interviews or were involved in research that was bound to better the world. Did I mention they were also taking 12+ units on top of that?
UC Berkeley’s hustle culture can be intimidating, overwhelming and somewhat toxic. You can easily fall in the trap of trying to join as many organizations, clubs and classes as you can, which may take a toll on your physical and mental health. Here are a few tips on maintaining a good work-life balance, while avoiding hustle culture.
Hone in on a few interests
There is pressure, especially as UC Berkeley students, to monetize your interests or use them to further your professional career. If you have even the slightest interest in something, peers recommend joining related clubs or adding a minor. Obviously, this is unrealistic for most people.
Instead, focus on a few interests that you feel strongly about and apply them to different aspects of your life. For example, if someone has an interest in politics, writing and fashion they can enroll in a political science class, join campus publications, or take up sewing as a hobby. By varying where your interests lie, you’re unlikely to have severe burnout and will also have some downtime to explore your interests.
My biggest advice for any student is to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re staying up past midnight to do homework with a class early in the morning, just hit the hay. You’re not going to function as well as someone that sleeps eight hours a night, and sleeping for only a few hours will affect your health. Do not sacrifice sleep in favor of homework — sometimes it’s best to stop what you’re doing, get some rest and pick up in the morning.
Stay off LinkedIn
The social media platform is great for networking, finding opportunities and acting as a supplement to your resume. But LinkedIn can quickly turn into a place that makes you feel like you’re not doing enough. Constantly seeing posts about other students starting internships or being promoted will make you question your place at this school. On top of that, their profiles look like their personal Wikipedia pages with their vast amount of content.
It’s best to limit your time on LinkedIn and use it sparingly. Congratulate your peers, look for work and update your profile, rather than feeling bad for yourself as you scroll down your timeline.
Know your limits
When you hear your roommate is teaching a DeCal, working a part-time job and president of a club, it can easily feel like you’re not taking advantage of opportunities at UC Berkeley or that everyone is ahead of you careerwise. After experiencing this turmoil multiple times, it’s best to acknowledge that everyone has their own limits and you need to know your own.
Some people have family obligations, are struggling with their mental health or come to this school just to learn. You don’t have to be in numerous different organizations or have a five-page resume to succeed at UC Berkeley. Join one or two groups and make a name for yourself in those circles. It’ll give you an opportunity to grow, gain leadership skills and a sense of community.
Being a UC Berkeley student is no easy task, even if we don’t acknowledge its difficulty. Hustle culture can make you feel like you’re not doing enough or you might push against your limits to replicate your peers. Knowing your limits, taking care of yourself and having fun will take you further at this school than any internship or club will.