Hi everyone! My name is Binat Gousinov (she/her/hers), and I am a third year Business Economics major and Cognitive Science minor here at UCLA. I was born in Israel, but I grew up in Los Gatos, California in the Bay Area. Before I jump into talking about majors, minors, careers, and everything academics related, I want to take a second to congratulate you! In a record breaking year for the number of applications, you did it! Welcome to UCLA – we are so beyond excited to have you!
Now that you’ve made it past college applications, you might be wondering about what you want to study or do with the rest of your life. That pressure is intense, and I definitely felt it too as I was applying to college and starting my journey in higher education. Growing up in Silicon Valley, I felt that it was almost wrong if I didn’t pursue some sort of engineering or medical career. However, I wasn’t super interested in either of those options. To be completely transparent, I selected my major on my college apps through a process of elimination. I didn’t want to be a doctor, I didn’t want to be an engineer, but I did want to choose a major that would allow for growth and flexibility. I settled on Business Economics without fully understanding what I was even applying for and told myself that I could always switch majors later if I needed to.
When I got to UCLA, I started taking introductory economics courses. I really enjoyed the mathematical and theoretical aspects of my classes, but I still felt like I was missing something. I personally love learning about people and how people interact, so I looked into adding a minor that was slightly more humanities based. While my first thought was a psychology minor, I quickly learned that UCLA offers that program only as a major. However, my roommate freshman year, who I was only starting to get to know, was a Cognitive Science major. Listening to her talk about her classes and doing some additional online research made me realize that Cognitive Science was exactly what I was looking for. It was the perfect mixture of psychology classes with a technology-based viewpoint that would allow me to, hopefully, pursue a non-technical career in a tech company.
With my degree out of the way, I realized that I still had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do post grad. I now had a major and a minor that were both extremely broad and allowed for specialization in many different subfields. I started applying for internships for the summer of my sophomore year without a strong sense of direction. I literally typed the words “business internships” into the Google search bar and hoped for the best. I also took some time to visit the UCLA Career Center, and the people there pointed me in the right direction of where to even look for internships and what I could expect. Through my search, I narrowed down what I wanted to do that summer to a Customer Success internship. After a long interview process, I was able to have a virtual experience doing just that at a startup based in San Francisco. Having that hands-on involvement was extremely helpful in understanding more of what I wanted and did not want to do. When it came to applying for internships junior year, I leaned away from Customer Success and instead looked for Operations internships, as I had enjoyed that part of my summer experience. I was able to land an internship at a larger company for this summer in Program Management, and I am very much looking forward to that opportunity.
I truly think that my combination of major and minor was what set me on the path for success in regards to internships and my future career. Often times, I feel like I am taking my time at college for granted when I could be using it to explore so many different classes and programs. However, especially during Covid, I am working on taking full advantage of everything UCLA has to offer. Last spring, I took an education class for fun as I am involved in a few organizations that work with children, and I thought that it would be beneficial to learn about.
I am still finding my path day by day, but UCLA has allowed me to grow into who I am and, even more importantly, who I want to be. I am constantly in awe of the incredible people that I meet here and all of their accomplishments. I hope that in your time at UCLA, you will take full advantage of everything the university has to offer, and you will not be afraid to explore past your comfort zone.