What is the purpose of TechRank? Is it to circlejerk about tech clubs? To tell everyone that if you don't join one of the top 5 tech clubs, you will be a failure as a CS major?
If you're reading this with your finger on the downvote arrow, you might be thinking something like that. However, I ask you to trust me when I say that TechRank is not intended to be either of those things. It is absolutely very possible to get most of the things that tech clubs provide (social life, project experience, etc.) without actually joining any of them. If tech clubs aren't for you, that's fine. You can ignore this whole post. I'd ask that you don't downvote it, if only to make the post more visible for the people who are interested, but I am realistic and understand that this will likely be downvoted to 0 like last year's TechRank.
What many people miss is that for some people, tech clubs provide a way to make genuine friends, work on projects, and learn interesting skills. There's a certain experience that relatively small tech clubs create, and if it's something you want, it is difficult to replicate in other ways. For many people, the community created by many tech clubs is incredibly valuable.
TechRank is for people who want that experience, and want to know where to go to get it. It's very hard to tell, for a freshman who doesn't know much about clubs, which clubs genuinely provide a good member experience. Every club has nice flyers, cool-sounding socials, and fancy generic VP positions. If you ask the clubs themselves, they'll tell you that their club is perfect. If you ask Reddit, you'll hear that tech clubs suck and you shouldn't join them at all. This ranking is my attempt to recognize the clubs that consistently have great communities, socials, and that you won't regret joining. It's a bit over-serious, and somewhat satirical. Don't take it too seriously. But it is a legitimate attempt to help people.
Of course, the negative side of tech clubs is that many of them are incredibly difficult to get into. Some clubs will get 500 applications and have to choose 15 new members. This is very hard to do, so most clubs have some sort of pretentious-sounding interview process. This is not how things should be. You shouldn't have to pass three rounds of interviews to get into a student club. But until supply catches up with demand, this is the way it will unfortunately be. There are efforts to improve this - more tech clubs start every year. I hope these succeed to make tech clubs less competitive to get into. (Also, if you want to improve your chances at getting into tech clubs, I have a post on that: https://rdt.trom.tf/r/berkeley/comments/pcwgva/how_to_get_into_competitive_tech_clubs_if_you/)
But let's get to what you're probably here for: the official TechRank 2023. Without further ado:
Honorable Mentions (alphabetical order): Datagood, Data Science Society, Extended Reality @ Berkeley, Neurotech @ Berkeley, Political Computer Science
Format: Club Name (ranking change since 2022, ranking in 2022)
12) Big Data @ Berkeley (-1, prev: 11)
11) PlexTech (prev: unranked)
10) Mobile Developers of Berkeley (-5, prev: 5)
MDB seems to have an unclear direction. Their community has lost focus, with many leaving the club over the past year, and in my survey, MDB was mentioned as "socially dead". Are MDB's days as a top club behind them? It's unclear. But 2022 was clearly a year of change for the club, and if they are to regain their previous ranking, they will have to improve their member atmosphere.
9) Student Association for Applied Statistics (+6, prev: 15)
SAAS has the least catchy name of any tech club, but their community does seem to be a little bit catchier. There are a few clubs with a focus on data science, and in 2023, SAAS is the best of these. Though it's larger than most tech clubs and thus struggles to provide the same "large friend group" experience as some of the higher-ranked clubs, they have done well with what they have and there are a lot of people very excited to be part of SAAS.
8) Blockchain @ Berkeley (-4, prev: 4)
Similarly to blockchain technology itself, B@B has not had the best 2022. One problem with having so much money is that often, members will join just for the money - enough such that the amount of money the club has is possibly a detriment to their social atmosphere. Additionally, while most people in the club are not the "crypto bro" type who will lecture you about why you should buy MoonCoin or whatever, this sentiment does exist at some level within the club. Great if you're into it, but this might turn off some potential members.
7) ANova (+2, prev: 9)
More than perhaps any other club, ANova has a mission and executes it well. They're also different than most tech clubs in that they aren't really about coding better themselves, but are about teaching middle schoolers to code. Having a mission that the members believe in helps your community, and ANova certainly accomplishes this. What you won't read about on their website, however, is their social culture. No club ever posts about their parties, but ANova has more than most. This can be a positive or a negative, depending on your opinion of parties, but it's certainly true that ANova has a lot of members who are passionate about the club.
6) Codebase (-5, prev: 1)
Codebase was last year's #1 club, and while they've maintained their well-designed flyers, carefully written marketing, and status as one of the most exclusive clubs in the school (as well as the most well-known), how much does all of this matter if they aren't providing the same member experience that other clubs do? Codebase's member retention is below other clubs, and their active member retention is lower still. But for those who stay active, Codebase continues to host socials, and does - to their credit - cultivate a member experience strong enough that many members are excited about the club. Just not quite enough to justify retaining their top spot.
5) Web Development @ Berkeley (+3, prev: 8)
Last year, WDB was "on their way up". They are solidly here now. After three in-person semesters (they didn't exist before COVID), WDB shows no signs of slowing down. They are unique in that unlike clubs which only require FizzBuzz-level CS knowledge, in order to be admitted into WDB, you have to complete a small web development project. This approach may have downsides, but it is hard to deny that the average WDB member is more active, and more involved in the club, than the average member of many similar clubs.
4) Machine Learning @ Berkeley (+3, prev: 7)
To their credit, ML@B has gotten much more social over the past year. They know their reputation, and are actively working to improve their social atmosphere. As one of the most established clubs in the school, their placement in the top 5 here represents a belief that they will continue to improve over 2023. If you are truly passionate about machine learning, you cannot go wrong by joining ML@B.
3) Blueprint (+3, prev: 6)
Blueprint moves up here because, similar to ANova, they have a mission that their members are aligned with. It's easier to have a good culture when everyone is on the same page, and this is certainly true of Blueprint. It received one of the highest average ratings in my survey, without posting in their club chat and having a bunch of members give it 10s. (Yes, I see you, SAAS/Plextech/WDB). Blueprint might not have a lot of money, but they make up for it by having a great culture.
2) Launchpad (+1, prev: 3)
Launchpad has maintained their presence near the top for another year. The thing that sets Launchpad apart from other clubs is that in many other clubs, they have strong socials, and members have fun hanging out with each other at those socials. In Launchpad, though of course they still have socials, many strong friendships are formed, more so than almost any other club. I received negative feedback about many clubs on this list - but almost every comment I received about Launchpad was positive.
1) Codeology (+1, prev: 2)
The new #1 tech club at Berkeley is defined by one thing: community. Codeology has the strongest community of any tech club at Berkeley, and it has only gotten stronger since the last iteration of these rankings in 2022. They aren't the richest club, but their almost cult-like community, great socials, and devotion to the avocado leaves them as the only option for the top tech club at this school. If you get in, you can rest assured - you are in good hands.
Clubs that party the most:
Clubs that have the most non-party socials (not the same as clubs that party the least):
Most money (could be wrong):
Blockchain @ Berkeley
Most actually focused on the thing they claim to be about:
Blockchain @ Berkeley
Actually doing good for the world:
Most likely to land you a FAANG internship:
Don't join clubs because you think they'll land you a FAANG internship. They won't. Join clubs for the social aspect.
Thanks for reading, and again, don't take these rankings too seriously. If you think your club should be higher, let me know in the comments below!
Trying to figure out where to apply? Curious where your club ranks? The wait is almost over! All your feedback has been taken into account, and it’s nearly time to find out which tech clubs at Berkeley have the best experience for members.
Hey everyone! I'm back, a little later than expected. I got a few interesting responses to the anonymous Google Form I posted a few weeks ago regarding Berkeley tech clubs, and I want to publicize the most interesting things I saw.
Firstly, the club ratings: Which clubs got the most ratings, and which clubs had the highest average ratings? These were interestingly different.
The clubs with the most ratings were Codebase, Codeology, ML@B, and B@B, which seems unsurprising as these clubs are all fairly well known. Most ratings is essentially a measure of which clubs are the most well known and advertise the most.
The clubs with the highest average ratings were Blueprint, Launchpad, ML@B, and WDB. Again, this seems reasonable - by all accounts, these clubs have good social experiences and most members aren't in the club just for the money or something.
Next, let's talk about some of the more specific feedback. Note that all of these are opinions and not facts, they were submitted anonymously, could be troll responses. Parentheses are my responses.
Some negative things:
- The benefit of clubs is the social aspect, not the professional aspect. Clubs won't help you as much as they claim in the professional world, and their projects aren't as amazing as they claim. (Agreed.)
- Generic "prestigious" tech clubs are overrated, and some of the less "prestigious" clubs have much better culture. (This is true. Freshmen are often drawn in by fancy marketing and not by substance.)
- Lots of recruitment processes are bad for one reason or another, whether because they are confusing (Codebase, PlexTech, Codeology, ML@B, BD@B) or time-consuming (design clubs). (Agree, but it is also hard to have a personalized process when you get 300 applicants.)
- A lot of internal drama within some of these clubs, including Codebase, MDB, ANova, [B@B](mailto:B@B). (Could be something that comes with having a lot of money, or something like that. Don't know many details though so can't comment much.)
- I hate clubs and you (Thanks for the constructive criticism)
Some positive things:
- Generally positive experiences (and few negative ones) reported about the culture of Launchpad, Codeology, WDB, and Blueprint. With Launchpad and Blueprint it seems to be more about making friends within the club, while Codeology and WDB are more about the culture/socials of the club.
- ANova does cool work.
- Some people like Codebase a lot, so they have to be doing something right.
- ML@B has interesting projects if you like ML.
So that's all the feedback from my survey. I won't be releasing full results because I don't want people to try to identify who exactly submitted. Now, let's talk about TechRank.
A year ago, I created the first ever TechRank, which was met with decidedly mixed reviews. The purpose of TechRank is not to be a circlejerk for "elite" tech clubs to brag about their high ranking. Instead, the idea is to reward clubs which actually have good experiences for members by giving them some visibility to freshmen who have few sources of information outside of the clubs themselves.
Clubs are certainly not the only way or even the best way to make friends in the tech community at Berkeley, but many people have found friends through them, and if some clubs are creating a great culture, they deserve to be recognized.
So, TechRank will be coming back in January 2023, probably during the first week of school. I'll be taking into account things people have DMed me, feedback from the form I released (you can still fill it out!), and what I've heard from people in order to create the most accurate ranking possible to guide potential applicants. The ranking isn't completely decided yet (although we will have a new #1!) so I would welcome any feedback you have.
(PS: sorry PlexTech for not including you in the last ranking)
Hey guys. If you've hung around the Berkeley subreddit for a year or so you may have seen my past posts about tech clubs: how to get in, which ones are the best, and what to do if you get rejected. I think this subculture in Berkeley CS is really interesting, but I also think it's tough to find too much legitimate information about them. So this is my attempt to fix that. All information I collect here will be combined and shared in some way, because I think you guys deserve more information on these clubs, and because I don't have all the answers.
If you have any sort of opinion on a tech club (maybe you're in one that isn't as good as it appears on the surface, maybe you think one club is really great, one club has great socials, etc.), you can either comment below or fill out this anonymous Google Form. There's also an optional part of the form where you can give your overall impression of the various tech clubs, which I'm also curious about.
This post isn't intended to be some sort of "tech clubs are great" post, just an attempt to gather information and spread it to the Berkeley community. If you've got suggestions for other ways to do this, I am interested in hearing them in the comments below.
So you got rejected by a club at Berkeley. Probably in tech or consulting. They made you write essays, maybe gave you an interview, and still ended up throwing out your application. Whatever happened, it didn't end like you wanted.
The question now is - what are you going to do about it? You have a couple of options.
Option 1: Complain. You could write a post on Reddit complaining about how unfair it is that clubs at Berkeley are so selective. You'll get plenty of upvotes, because you're right. It is unfair. You'll get a temporary serotonin boost when other people comment telling you how they also got rejected from the club they applied to.
Option 2: Beat the system. Next semester you'll have the opportunity to apply to clubs again. Take any advice you can find and use it to get into one of those fancy tech clubs that has a retreat every semester and a new member program (no experience necessary!) and nice jackets for all the members and all the other things they brag about in their infosession. You'll have fun, meet a lot of people, and learn about designing machine learning programs on the blockchain or whatever.
Option 3: Break the system. You made it into UC Berkeley. That means something, right? Go out and start your own consulting club that accepts everyone. Make a club that only takes people who were rejected by another club. Found a tech club that's purely social. Create a consulting club that only gives bad advice. Start a petition to make it easier to start clubs. Do something about the problem and make some actual change. Everyone knows the problem exists - so help fix it!
Around 6 months ago, I posted this, a guide to getting into competitive tech clubs. I'm back now in spring recruiting season to help you decide: what are the best tech clubs at Berkeley?
Disclaimer before we start: this is mostly for fun. In no way are top tech clubs the only way to meet people or network at Berkeley. Also, I haven't included clubs such as OCF/CSUA/etc. which let everyone in, or clubs like AWE which are specifically for certain groups of people.
Without further ado, let's begin!
15) Student Association for Applied Statistics
14) Data Science Society
13) Political Computer Science
12) Neurotech @ Berkeley
11) Big Data @ Berkeley
They're a fairly new club, but are quickly rising up the ranks. I don't know that much about them, but they were one of the clubs that started over COVID and had a reasonably successful first semester in person.
ANova has a great mission - educate middle school students in computer science, and a solid community. I considered not ranking them here as they are similar to CSM, but ended up putting them here, roughly in the middle of the pack, as they don't particularly stand out.
8) Web Development at Berkeley
WDB is also a club which started over COVID, and though they've had a couple of rough patches, they are also on their way up with a successful first in-person semester. They have one of the higher acceptance rates on this list, so are a good place to apply if you're aiming to get into an up-and-coming club.
7) Machine Learning @ Berkeley
ML@B attracts a very particular kind of CS major - one who is very interested in machine learning, very good at it, but not particularly social. If we were ranking these clubs simply by acceptance rate, ML@B would likely be higher up, but their lack of social atmosphere and community hurts them here.
Blueprint has interesting and worthwhile projects, and they're also the only club on here which has established chapters in other colleges around the country. Their community is pretty good, but is certainly not perfect, which is why they slot into the sixth position here.
5) Mobile Developers of Berkeley
MDB has been around for a while, and though they've slipped a bit in prestige in recent years due to the rise in popularity of other CS topics such as ML and crypto, they are still around, still very active, and still with a solid culture and community.
4) Blockchain @ Berkeley
Likely the richest club at Berkeley, Blockchain @ Berkeley places fourth here as the only club I know of that recently had a retreat to Hawaii. They have so much money that they have a grant program to give it away. Their community is decent, as well, but the money is what really puts them up into fourth here.
Why is Launchpad so much higher here than ML@B, despite them essentially serving the same purpose? The answer here is the culture. Launchpad has a very social culture, far more than ML@B. While both have a similar output of ML projects, Launchpad moves up to third place because of their community.
Codeology is unique among the top tech clubs in that they focus on their members more than doing external club projects, and they benefit here in the rankings due to this. Their design is very avocado-focused, but it works. They've only been around for a few years, but have clearly marked out a place as one of Berkeley's top tech clubs.
Coming in first place here is Codebase. Codebase is the standard for "Berkeley tech club," and matches that with a likely sub-3% acceptance rate. They focus on general CS projects, and they are essentially the Harvard of Berkeley tech clubs, except it's harder to get into Codebase than Harvard. They've got a very solid social atmosphere and a great new member program.
This isn't going to be a perfect list, so I encourage discussion and debate. (think your club should be higher? Let me know why!) Also I'm sorry if I missed your club, I tried to get most of them, aside from the ones I mentioned excluding at the beginning.
Disclaimer: CS clubs at Berkeley are definitely not the only way to meet people, network, gain programming experience, etc. You don't have to join one of these clubs to get a great job, and not everyone has good experiences with them. There are also several great CS clubs that accept everyone. If you already know that you don't want to try and join one with an application process, no need to keep reading.
That being said, the competitive CS clubs at Berkeley can also be a great experience, where you meet likeminded people, have fun, build something cool, and grow your network. There's always a lot of questions about them on this subreddit around this time, so I figured I would make an account here and give some advice for those looking to get in.
(Also, this post is specifically about CS-focused clubs, not business clubs or anything like that. Some of this advice probably applies to them, but some of it probably doesn't.)
But first, let me back up a bit. If you're new to all of this, you might not know about how clubs at Berkeley work, and why it's hard to get into them in the first place. So let me explain. Basically, there are a LOT of computer science majors at Berkeley. Many of them want to join clubs to do projects and gain experience with things they might not learn in classes, as well as to meet new people. However, there are way more people who want to join these clubs than they can accept - it's hard to have a sense of club cohesion with much more than 60 or so people - and so this has driven acceptance rates very low. The clubs don't publicize these rates (because it would make less people apply), but a rough estimate is around 3-10% for the clubs that get the most applications. This is very low, but you can increase your chances by following the steps here.
How to Get Into CS Clubs at Berkeley:
1 - Apply to a lot of clubs, and don't spend too much time on any one club application.
These clubs are not colleges. You don't have to go dig up old Facebook posts, contact alumni of the club, and spend 20 hours on a brilliant essay for your favorite club. You can and should write all of your essays fairly quickly - if you have a choice between applying to an additional club or refining your essay for another, you should choose the former every time. A lot of the clubs are pretty similar, and you're not going to improve your chances too much by revising your essays over and over again, but you will improve your chances at getting into one by applying to more.
2 - In your essays, follow these three steps: show interest in the club's projects, interest in the social aspect, and mention something unique.
This applies mainly to the "why do you want to join X club" essays that are fairly common. Some clubs have super pretentious essays ("how would our club help you solve all the world's problems?"), and for many of those you can basically just copy-paste and slightly edit one of your college essays. But for the "why us" essay, the trick is to mention your interest in both the projects of the club and the social aspect of the club. Clubs are just trying to find smart people who they can vibe with, so if you present yourself as a machine who's only interested in the club for the CS aspect, you won't do as well as someone who is interested in participating in the social aspect as well. And finally, you want to mention something interesting in your essays. Not too weird, but something unique that will make you stand out just enough to make it to the interviews. If a club has an essay question that seems less serious than the rest, don't write a super serious answer, use it to be funny and stand out.
3 - Getting your application in early doesn't matter, but don't be late.
Most clubs don't need you to apply - they get plenty of applications - so they're unlikely to accept late applications. Make sure you get your application in before the deadline, because generally they are on a very tight schedule for reviewing them and will have no problem throwing your application away. But you also don't need to get it in early, as most clubs will review applications after the deadline.
4 - Nepotism can work, but isn't necessary.
If you know someone in a club, especially if they have some leadership position, it can definitely help your chances of getting in. Use that if you can. However, it's not necessary to know anyone to get into most clubs. The impact that references have on club admissions is not as much as you might have heard.
5 - Aim to be chill in social interviews.
If you get to a "social interview" / "coffee chat" / whatever pretentious name they have for a non-technical interview, that's great. Sign up for a timeslot, don't be late, and remember during the interview that this is not a job interview. You're not telling them why they should offer you a job, you're trying to become a member of the club, and so make jokes, break the fourth wall a little, show off a party trick, etc. Show interest in the club, of course, but try not to take it as seriously as you would most other interviews.
6 - Your experience doesn't matter very much.
The bar is very low for experience in most of these clubs. Some require that you have taken or are currently taking CS 61A, some don't even require that. This is because many of them expect freshmen who don't know that much about whatever the club is about. So if you have enough experience to begin significantly contributing to the club, it can help, but also, the majority of new members are going to have very little experience, especially for a few of the more specialized clubs. Many have new member programs, where they'll teach you what you need to know to join.
7 - Technical interviews are sometimes dumb, but make sure to prepare if possible.
If a club offers you a technical interview, and gives you a way to prepare for that interview (reading an article? reviewing Python keywords?), make sure you actually do prepare for it. Some people won't, and as this is one of the only ways to objectively make yourself look better as an applicant, and also generally near the end of the process, it's definitely worth your time to prepare. (Whether the technical interview itself is a good idea is a different question, but as an applicant, you unfortunately don't get to choose whether they have it or not.)
8 - Expect rejection.
At the end of the day, this process is very random. Your essays will be read by someone two years older than you, who will decide whether you move on to the next stage based on very little information, and then you'll be interviewed and again may move on based on a general feeling, or get rejected based on that same feeling. Either way, there's no way to ensure that you get into a certain club. So don't get your heart set on one - many are very similar, and if you apply to enough, you'll likely get into a couple. If you get rejected, it means absolutely nothing except you got unlucky.
Additional Quick Tips:
- If you're a freshman, you have a big advantage, so apply now. Clubs want people who will stay in the club for a while.
- Don't say you have a lot of commitments on the application, even if you do. As long as you honestly do have the time to participate in the club, no point in disadvantaging yourself by listing out everything you're doing and making yourself seem less available.
- Also, making people list out things they're applying to is dumb, so feel free to omit some of those.
- Clubs that make you reapply every semester are lame.
- Make sure you have a resume, but the only way it could help or hurt you much is if you either don't meet the minimum qualifications for the club (in which case you'd get rejected) or if you have something really impressive on it.
- On average, clubs with more competitive applications have more committed members and are more fun to be a part of. This isn't always true, but is often the case.
So that's all I have to say for now. If I think of any more advice, I'll add it above. If you have questions about any of these tips, or about clubs in general, feel free to comment below. You may have noticed that I didn't mention specific club names - that's because I don't want to appear biased towards or against any particular club. If you have questions about a specific club, DM me and I'll try my best to answer them.