Shirley Salanio's Career Learnings

Advancing At Berkeley: Shirley Salanio's Career Learnings

What roles have you had throughout your time at Berkeley?

I worked as a Program Representative, Internship Coordinator, and Student Services Advisor during my time at UC Berkeley Extension’s International Diploma Programs.  I then moved to the School of Information as the Assistant Director for Admissions and Student Affairs. Currently, I am the Director for Graduate Matters for the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department.

What do you do to keep growing as a professional?

I try to surround myself with a solid network of people in both my professional and personal life that continue to entertain and challenge me, intellectually and emotionally. We often share with each other information of events or opportunities on campus and off, and encourage each other to participate, even if it is something different from our usual comfort zone.  It can be fun, and also a great way to stimulate your mind when you participate in things different from your usual tasks. For example, I have a dear friend that studies and teaches palmistry and astrology. This valuable insight has actually helped me in understanding and relating with the myriad of personalities I encounter everyday!

You’ve been involved with the Asian Pacific American System-wide Alliance (APASA) and Queers and Transgender People of Color (QTPOC). Did that contribute to your growth and if so how? 

Absolutely.  As with many others, I have various layers of my identity. I am not only a female, first generation American, Asian Pacific Islander, and obvious person of color, but I also identify with the LGBTQ community. I prefer not to view any of these identities as limiting, but rather as opportunities to embrace and gain visibility for others that may be uncomfortable sharing some aspects of their lives. Both APASA and QTPOC are wonderful examples of the immense diversity the campus has to offer.  I love to travel and have had the privilege of travelling to over 30 countries and six continents. I recognize that in some parts of the world, and even within the United States, being “different” from the majority is not entirely acceptable or embraced. These organizations do a wonderful job of celebrating identities and creating a community around that. Admittedly, both organizations also quite often have food-centric activities that entice me to participate. 

What do you think it takes to be successful at UC Berkeley?

Berkeley can be a diverse and competitive place. I think being open-minded, establishing a supportive network of people that will keep you grounded, focusing on the positives, and maintaining a sense of humor in spite of the challenges we encounter, will help in most situations. An ability to adapt, but remain true to who you are, is also a useful skill.  

What would you recommend people do if they’ve never managed full-time staff, but want to become a supervisor?

I have found that as important as it is to know what you enjoy in your career or life, it is equally important to know what you do not like. I would recommend speaking with leaders that they admire and respect for advice on different management styles. This would hopefully help them gain insight to the type of manager they would like to be, and they can build from that. Managing staff effectively can be hard work, and not everyone will enjoy that aspect of a job. 

I would also recommend getting involved in roles that would provide leadership opportunities.  This could be in the form of campus organizations, or volunteer opportunities outside of work. Any experience to be the main point of contact could be useful. I would also suggest offering to supervise work-study students if that is an option, or volunteer to be a mentor with the Berkeley Staff Assembly.  

Any final words of wisdom to staff looking to grow their careers at UC Berkeley?

Be open to the idea that everyone has a unique path in life. We should not feel pressured to create a journey that will look like someone else because there is no guaranteed formula for success or happiness.  

Complacency often breeds curiosity, so continue to expand your support network and attend different events that might be out of your typical comfort zone.

All experiences can be learning opportunities. Try to appreciate the journey, even the challenging ones, because it could lead to something unexpectedly better.  

Being true and authentic to who you are (as long as you’re not intentionally hurting yourself or others) is generally the path of least resistance to grow as a person. I am a big believer in finding enjoyment and balance between your professional and personal lives. All work and no play would make for a very dull day.

If you’d like to advance your career with today’s methods read about the corporate lattice model- here

Shirley Salanio is the Director for Graduate Matters within the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department. She has been a part of the UC Berkeley community for 20+ years, as both a staff and student. To set-up an informational interview  e-mail

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