Students Hadur Tuteja, Year 10, and Thomas Playsted, Year 10, recount their experiences at the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC), held at UC Berkeley.
Business and Entrepreneurship Stream written by Hadur Tuteja
I attended the NSLC program with Berkeley 2018 for Business Management and Entrepreneurship. The program as a whole offered great and valuable opportunities for those who attended. NSLC offered a range of activities such as presenting a new product in a shark tank like environment to being presented with challenges associated with running and expanding an existing business. The course also offered once in a lifetime opportunities such as learning about ourselves as leaders and the future benefits of understanding how best to communicate within a group.
Another primary focus of the program was a leadership series given by Mike Walsh, which emphasized the different attributes needed by individuals to become the best leader they can be. Throughout the series, we were repeatedly tested on our personality types and how we would react in certain situations to learn not only about our ability to think on our feet, but also our ethics and values. Another aspect of the series was the personality matrix. This was a test conducted to find our personality traits and categorizing them under one of peacock; lion; koala and owl. This was a very interesting aspect of the course and showed me, for the first time in my life, my traits regardless of being strengths and weaknesses. This helped us break out of our traditional sphere of activities and do something which challenged our personality type, such as, for me being a lion not trying to over influence the group and allow for others to express their opinions. This in turn helped me learn more about myself and will make me a better leader in the future.
Similarly, another aspect of NSLC that I believe holds great value was the opportunity to work as a collective and in public speaking. NSLC offered the business students an opportunity to pitch whatever product they wanted towards a group of investors, as well as including all information to bring the idea into life. This product pitch helped us communicate and work as a unit to finish all the required aspects prior to due date. Further, when presenting the opportunity arose of pitching your product not only in front of the sharks but also in front of all your peers, an opportunity to leave your comfort zone. I am proud to say many people took the risk and succeeded even if they never believed they could prior. The activities of the product pitch or simulation provided the basis for each team to display teamwork and communication in order to be successful, an opportunity I deeply valued.
In conclusion, the NSLC program provided a world of opportunity for whatever you wished to gain from it, whether that be leadership, business, public speaking etc. This excellent program providing amazing opportunities for those students looking to expand their knowledge about themselves and I would recommend it to anyone considering joining in future years.
Engineering Stream written by Thomas Playsted
I think it is hard to put a value on the experiences we all had at NSLC. A primary focus of the program revolves around carving your own path, and becoming a better leader while you are at it. As Mike Walsh put it: how much value would you put on your experience if you had paid $10,000 for it? What about $100,000?
Here is my answer…
NSLC was an opportunity in every sense of the word. An opportunity to meet new people; an opportunity to learn; and an opportunity to discover more about yourself. Students built their own wind turbine models, constructed RC cars, and even soldered their own control circuits. Despite the prestige of UC Berkeley and the matching standard to which these activities were conducted, I personally felt that there were even more valuable aspects to the program than the Engineering experience alone.
Mike Walsh’s Leadership Series was a set of lectures focused around the topic of being a leader in your community; but I think this is poor description. The series focused very much on communication and how to use your own personality traits to your own advantage. Mike himself was undoubtedly an expert surrounding this field and I feel as if many people left the program with a deeper understanding of how to make the most of the relationships between themselves and those around them.
Regardless of how many hours we spent gaining hands on experience or listening to professionals lecture, I still believe that the most value from my time at NSLC came as a result from the team with which I learned, worked, and ate with for 9 days. I became so much closer to these 13 people than I would ever had expected at the beginning of the program. This is due in part to the nature of the activities which required us to function as an effective team (necessity is the mother of invention, as my dad would say). Our final task was to present a product pitch to the NSLC staff, in front of the entire Engineering cohort. Needless to say that the pressure was immense. However, our group managed to produce a 15-minute presentation including a demonstration video, 3D computer model, logistics diagram and financial analysis. Not only was this a testament to the quality of the education and advice we received in such a short period of time, but most significantly to the effectiveness of the communication between the individuals in our team. This cohesiveness was achieved by what I thought to be the less academically oriented yet most valuable elements of the program, which included a team ropes course and excursion to the famous Pier 39.
The connections and memories I made during NSLC will be cherished forever. The knowledge gained will be indispensable if I choose to pursue a field in STEM, and the lessons I learned in communication will serve me for the rest of my life. That is value.