“So, what do you want to do after you graduate?” It’s one of the most commonly asked questions when you are a college student. You learn to expect it from every relative you come into contact with, once you are in your final year at school. As a child, my ‘dream job’ changed constantly, from 3rd grade teacher to FBI agent to President of the United States. I anticipated that once I became an adult and was in college, I would have the answer figured out, but that was definitely not the case.
Growing up in Orange County, I knew that coming to Los Angeles would mean exposure to tons of concerts, events, beaches and museums. However, I didn’t realize one of the most valuable resources LA has for college students: Internships. Internships can be a great way to test out a career. Not to mention, Los Angeles is a hot-spot for great companies; It’s home to 23 of the 57 California companies in the Fortune 500. I’ve had some friends at UCLA who work at start-ups and others who work at large companies, like Interscope Records, Nickelodeon and LiveNation. When I started off my first year at UCLA, I entered as a Political Science major. While I loved my coursework, I was very unsure of what jobs I might end up in with a Political Science degree.
Through my involvement in the organization, Undergraduate Students Association Council or USAC, I got connected with a group of very politically-involved Bruins. Some of my friends in this organization were applying to internships with local and state politicians, so I did the same and ended up working for our District Assembly Member, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas. While it was a great experience, I actually realized that working in an elected official’s office wasn’t for me. I was much better suited to my second internship at the social impact firm, Propper Daley. I found out about the company from a friend in my sorority, who is a year older and has similar interests. Their office was only about 15 minutes away from UCLA. As an intern, I was able to work on philanthropy projects for celebrities, like John Legend and Bradley Cooper. I loved it! I also learned that I enjoy working in companies with a start-up vibe.
While they were great professional experiences, both of those internships were unpaid, and I needed to get a paid job. Many students at UCLA get on-campus jobs, which can range from working at a coffee stop to assisting a professor with research. Opportunities like these are often published online, at the Career Center or on Bruin Walk, a place on campus where organizations hand out informational flyers to students. I was hired as a Campus Tour Guide, which allowed me to give tours to prospective students. This became both a job and a social group for me at UCLA, and I have now been giving tours for three years. Around the same time, I also was hired as a summer camp counselor at Bruin Woods, UCLA’s alumni family camp in Lake Arrowhead. For the past two summers, I have been able to head up to the mountains, plan activities for kids, and network with some accomplished UCLA alumni. One of the many career chats I had with a guest at Bruin Woods led to a third internship, which allowed me to utilize my technical skills from my minor, Geospatial Information Systems. This opportunity was a paid job at a Traffic consulting firm.
“So, what do you want to do after you graduate?” After all these experiences, I still didn’t have my answer, until UCLA’s Consulting Night. UCLA organizations host all sorts of industry specific networking nights and job fairs, like the STEM Networking Night and the HIRE UCLA Fair. I had never had much of an interest in becoming consultant, but I attended the event with some friends anyways. There were over 30 firms at the fair, with representatives who all spoke so highly of their work that I decided to apply to jobs in the field. After many cover letters, resumes and interviews, I landed a job at a small technology consulting firm, where I will be working next year. I am so grateful to all the people and resources at UCLA which helped me to explore different possible careers and give me a better idea of what my ‘dream job’ is.