• Bryan Wang

PART III: Applying (And Getting In) To Haas

In Part I, we went over how Haas applications only give 15% weight to the resume section, making it the least important in terms of quantitative weight.

That being said, this section is still important because Haas values students who are well-rounded, dynamic, and are actively making an impact whether it’s on-campus via student clubs and research or off-campus in the form of internships, part-time work, and/or community service and volunteering.

Unlike your essays (which are deep-dives into your experiences and the stories you can tel), the resume is your chance to give admissions a bird’s eye view of what you’ve done with your time in your first few semesters in college.

You can read my Resume Guide for general pointers on building a strong CV, but the resume you’ll use for the Haas application is slightly different.

For starters, it follows the same application style as the UC system (throwback to when you applied to the UC campuses back in high school). More specifically, you don’t submit a PDF of your resume on an application portal; you input your activities and achievements in a series of blank text boxes divided by section.

Haas gives applicants four slots for extracurriculars, four for professional work experience, four for community service, and a final four for honors and awards.

This provides you a maximum of 16 activities you could potentially fit into your resume section. At this point, you may be wondering:

  • Should I try to fill up all 16 slots?

  • What if I leave one section (re: extracurriculars, professional work experience, volunteering) completely blank? Will this hurt my chances?

  • Can I include activities + achievements from high school?

  • Do I need a summer internship to get into Haas?

  • Will membership in a consulting club, business fraternity, or other exclusive student organization give me a leg-up?

The answer to all these questions: it depends!

Let’s break that down into more actionable bits, shall we:

  • No, you don’t need to fill all 16 slots. Obviously, you want as much quality AND as much quantity as you can get. But filling in all 16 slots with items irrelevant activities - like that time you won your eighth grade spelling bee - isn’t going to be impressing anyone anytime soon. Your goal should be to fill as many as these slots as possible with relevant, impactful activities + achievements.

  • What you should include: membership - and preferably leadership, if applicable - in any student organization (professional and non-professional, both types of clubs are invaluable to your Haas application), part-time work (re: anything from startups and Fall/Spring internships to working at the Taco Bell on Durant, ANYTHING is fair game!), summer internships, research (either through URAP/formal programs or via informal channels, like a personal project), volunteering and community service (both on-campus and/or off-campus, if relevant), personal projects (re: startups, hackathons, case competitions, etc.), on-campus work (re: tour guide, GBO leader, UGSI, TA, Reader, DSP Proctor/Note-Taker, etc.), and externships.

  • When describing your activity in detail, use the best practices highlighted in my Rockstar Resume Guide. Focus on accomplishments + achievements versus processes, action verbs over passive verbs, etc.

  • What NOT to include: high school activities/internships (you’re applying to Haas, not to UC Berkeley again), unaffiliated/disbarred organizations (re: unaffiliated Greek Life, suspended business frats 👀, etc,). And that’s it! Anything else should be fair game, even if they may seem ‘irrelevant’ to business, because these activities actually help you stand out from an otherwise vanilla business crowd.

NOTE: If you started something in high school but are still currently engaged in it during college (re: recurring community service activity, a startup you built, etc.), then and only then should you put it in your Haas application. Another exception to this rule is the summer after you graduated from high school prior to entering college. If you worked/interned that summer, add that to the list!

  • Leaving one section blank isn’t a death sentence, but it certainly is risky. The number one question Admissions will ask is, “Why?” Why is this the case? This is where other parts of your resume and essays may provide an answer. For instance, many students are unable to participate in club life because they’re too busy working part-time jobs to pay for tuition and rent. Others are commuters, and spend as much time studying and attending class as they do undergoing lengthy commutes and taking care of their households. When in doubt, assume Haas knows NOTHING. You HAVE TO SPELL it out for them, and you must the Resume and Essays sections to do so.

  • On the flip-side, if you have more than 4 activities for a section, then default to your strongest 4. Be strategic: prioritize leadership, impact (re: most accomplishments), and prestige (name brand).

  • If you don’t have a summer internship lined up - or plan to - then no, your chances of landing Haas aren’t substantially reduced. Does it help? Of course— so long as it’s a compelling experience with a story or two to tell. But not having a summer internship doesn’t hurt either. More of my friends who got into Haas did NOT have a summer internship, as opposed to people I know who did. In fact, most successful applicants enrolled in summer semester courses, studied abroad, and/or worked on their own personal projects. The point is, it’s not necessary whatsoever. But yes, it could boost your odds. Emphasis on the ‘could’. Because there are plenty of applicants with flashy internships under their belts who get rejected by Haas despite having a 'fancy' “Bank of America Merrill Lynch” summer internship in their Resume section.

And no: if you aren’t in a consulting club, business frat, or any other designated pre-professional group whose identity is defined by a collective, crippling need for emotional validation via low acceptance rates… Haas really doesn’t care. It may seem like everybody in these clubs gets into Haas, and I’ll admit it: when I was young, I thought my membership in these clubs was what got me in. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Some clubs boast 100% acceptance rates into Haas (which is mostly an abuse of the actual data manipulated to fit a certain agenda), and sometimes that dips to as low as 20% for most of them (if you actually look into the numbers and do your own due diligence).

Moreover, think about it this way: do students in these clubs get in because they’re in the club, or because they were so stubbornly driven on applying and getting into Haas from the very start (and thereby applying to these kinds of clubs in the first place)? Clubs also give insider tips and tricks on applying to Haas (much like this guide is doing 😘😘😘😘), further increasing the probability of success.

And EVEN THEN, so many kids from these communities DON’T GET IN. I’ve witnessed so much salt over the years from consulting kids whining about rejection while lamenting “why do people who got rejected by MY consulting club get into Haas, it’s not fair” that I know something most students on-campus have yet to figure out: WE AIN’T $HIT.

They’re literally just a club. They’re not going to get you in.

Only YOU can get YOU in.

And Haas admissions knows this. It’s why, once you get into Haas, you’ll see how the business community is SO MUCH MORE than the circus you’re used to. So join these clubs because you WANT to, because the people EXCITE you, and NOT because you think it will give you a one-up over others for Haas.

It really won’t. Because if you do this, you’re going to look like every other generic, cookie-cutter, copy-paste consulting club/business frat sophomore who’s ever applied to Haas (and then proceeded to get rejected).

On that note, don’t stress too much about the Resume Section 😊😊. It’s only 15% of what’s measured in admissions, and for good reason. Unlike GPA and pre-req’s, which are relatively standardized and objective, everybody’s resumes are coming from different backgrounds + experiences. Therefore, something as subjective as resumes - which is entirely rooted in one’s background and experience - isn’t weighed as much.

This is why, again, I want to stress the fact that the Resume is only 15% of the admissions criteria. For what it’s worth, Admissions at least knows that the resume does not do a great job holistically capturing the richness of a candidate’s potential and fit. The resume is merely a broad scan of what you have done in your time at Cal, and a prelude to the stories you are able to tell in the Essays Section, a section that - in my relatively qualified opinion - is THE MOST under-looked and under-appreciated key to success in applying to Haas.

On that note, check out Parts IV, V, and VI for our advice on how to navigate and crush your Haas essays (and application!).

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