Internship Opportunities and Class Credit

While the classes I have taken on campus at UCLA have been incredibly valuable, one of the best experiences I have had is my internship class at a local elementary school. My goal is ultimately to become a teacher and having the chance to intern at an elementary for class credit has been absolutely amazing. Getting hands on experience in the classroom is one of the best ways to really get a feel for the teaching profession. The school is super close by and a bus ride only takes a short fifteen minutes. This has seriously been a life changing experience and inspired me to apply for Teach for America!

As a college student, organizing your schedule to fit internships can be challenging but UCLA has many opportunities that allow you to receive units for the internship. These off campus opportunities often involve a community experience mixed with relevant coursework. For example, on top of my hours spent at the elementary school I meet with a coordinator for reflection. I also complete readings and written responses. The academic mixed with hands-on experience is an awesome way to approach career interests.

My focus has been on internships involving teaching, but there are many other opportunities for other interests. For example, my roommate who is a science major gets unit credit for the research she does. Another program focuses on civic engagement and sets students up with internships with nonprofits or government work. Los Angeles is a prime location for finding internship opportunities because so many different industries are located in the area. There are chances to get involved in medicine, business, teaching, and many others as well. College is all about finding out your true passions and internships are an awesome way to help students figure this out.

Rushing through the end of summer session!!


Yes people, it’s that time again when you’re about to run out of time to finish up all your projects at school. Well at least for me it is that time again,haha.. I only have 3 weeks left for my summer session class, yay!!! Super excited, but that also means that less time to finish up all the projects that keep coming up every week. And for me that means another thing: back to Starbucks to do my projects 🙂

Research has been going pretty good so far, I started to do my own experiment. I’m also  getting ready for the school year in Fall when I have to do the experiment completely by my own!! I hope my last blog about how to find research has been helpful for some people, and I will continue to update you guys about how’s life in research group 🙂

It’s really interesting how now it’s easier to understand research papers and the terminology once you actually are doing research. It’s not so much that I suddenly become a genius, but it becomes a habit and a training process that your brain has to go through, which in a way sharpens your way of thinking and analyzing an experiment 🙂

Another interesting thing that happen last week was watching Batman of course 🙂 For those that is a fan of superhero, then this is one EXCELLENT movie to watch! Of course, the tragedy that happen in Colorado totally saddened my heart. It gave me a really good wake up call to really appreciate life and people that I love. It reminded me to not take life for granted and waste it. How anything can happen anytime and anywhere, in an unexpected moment in our lives. My heart goes to all the families that lost their loved ones, and to all the heroes that protected their loved ones that night! That was a really good reminder for me to always give thanks and live every single day to the fullest.

Summer break addition: research life

Hi there, so as I told you before that I am starting to do research this summer at one of the professors in the Bio-Engineering department. I want to tell you a little bit about how it going so far.

As a new researcher, I usually shadow the grad student that I will be working under for the first couple weeks. I started to learn all the new technique and methods; the previous experiment that they did, and also the future experiment that I should start to think about. I have made the plan for the next couple of  weeks, this month, and this summer of what I want to accomplish  and I went over it with the grad student. I’m looking forward to it because I can start thinking of the experiment that I want to do and how to accomplish the goal; and I”m talking about planning it all from the scratch!!!

This brings me to another point of how to get into research:

1. It’s always good to do your research before sending an email to your professor, this really shows that you have done some research and you’re not just “spamming” all professors with emails.

2. Try to meet the professor in person and have a short conversation to make sure that you are really interested for that particular research. There are times where you think you like it, but then you find out more then you realized and have a change of heart, which is totally fine. It is better to not jump into something that you are not passionate about.

3. Connections connections connections!!! Just like in the job field, connections are also important in finding research. Having broader connections will allow you to find out if there are new research areas that have openings.

4. Get your resume ready. This is of course a really good thing to start early even if you are not thinking about getting into research anytime soon 🙂

I hope these four things can help some of you to get started to think about whether or not you want to do research. Feel free to ask me questions if you have anything you’re curious about 🙂

Summer Research

Hi all, I can believe that I’m already in Summer quarter!! Wohoooo!!! I hope you all are enjoying your first week of Summer break or maybe your first day of Summer quarter at school 🙂 I haven’t started my first day of Summer classes yet, it will actually be tomorrow. But I did start my first day of research!! 🙂 It was a really fun and interesting new experience. I met the grad student that I will be working for, some new friends, and got to know the lab itself. Learning new lab technique is always fun, but learning to navigate a building and my ways around it is not so much fun for me. I am pretty bad with directions (meaning I’m really bad with directions), so trying to memorize different ways to get to a specific room is not always the easiest thing for me. I am learning my way around the new building, and hopefully I will master it pretty soon (cross my finger) Anyway, this last week break was really fun. I got to rest, meet my friends from community college, do some room cleaning, and last but not least, close off my one year at Disneyland. My annual pass will expire soon and the block out dates are coming so quick, so I have to bid my year at Disneyland goodbye 😦 I went to Downtown Disney on Friday, which is really relaxing; and watched the movie Brave 🙂 For those that are Pixar fans, Brave is a really good movie!! And then on Sunday, I went to Disneyland for the whole day. I haven’t spent that long at Disneyland in awhile, so it was pretty tiring. By the end of the day, my feet were all sore. Nevertheless, it was a really fun week and weekend. I am sad I won’t be able to go to Disneyland that often anymore but I’m super glad that I got the chance to experience the privilege of having annual pass for 2 years already 🙂

Princeton Ly – Big Time

One of the not-so-secret things you need to know about UCLA is that it is huge. Over 25,000 undergraduates and maybe half as many graduate students, a pretty good balance, in my opinion. (Often lost in the shuffle is the fact that there is about one paid administrative staffer per undergraduate student – ludicrous!) Of course, this girth cedes some benefits too – fourteen Nobel Prize laureates, over one hundred NCAA team championships, unparalleled diversity within the student body – the list could go on for days.

But in deciding if you would like or want to attend such an intimidatingly large institution, where does the buck stop? How many classmates is too many? Can you set yourself apart from the masses? Is big, beautiful, when it comes to college?

The answer is, of course, unsatisfyingly nuanced – maybe.

Here are the “pros.” You have access to opportunities at UCLA that you would be hard-pressed to get anywhere else. You can do research on the masters of Modernist aesthetic or the phylogeny of Indonesian reef fishes. You can volunteer at our top-ranked hospital, or in inner-city Los Angeles. You can tutor, sing, work, preach, perform, demonstrate, flyer, explore, play, and teach at UCLA in any field, your choice. If you are lucky, someone will pay you to do it, too. Everything you could ever want – facilities, funding, faculty, friends – are at your fingertips. All you have to do is get them.

But therein lies the rub, the big “con.” You are the one that has to make things happen. No one will tell you what to do! You can do as much or as little as you want at UCLA – everything is right there – but you have to hustle to make it happen. I personally have had this dichotomous experience with UCLA before. I spent a summer in Hawaii fulfilling my Marine Biology Quarter with days of snorkeling and hiking, an adventure that was exactly as fun as it sounds. But the logistics leading up to and following the trip – sending transcripts, applications, dealing with administration – were exactly as mind-numbingly idiotic and arduous as it sounds. Was it worth it? Totally. But did it take a lot (and I mean a lot) of work? Of course.

All this to say, if size is what you are worried about in regards to UCLA, take a moment and reflect on what kind of person you are. If you can see yourself handling your own affairs and commitments like an adult, then by all means, come on in, you will love it here. We at UCLA are always happy to welcome motivated, intelligent individuals!



An Introduction – Princeton Ly

Hello there! My name is Princeton Ly, and I will be posting weekly on the UCLA Life Blog during the 2011 – 2012 academic year.

First, a little bit more about myself and my path to and through UCLA. I was raised in Whittier, a historic little town in East Los Angeles, and attended high school in tree-lined San Marino, just a stone’s throw from our very own Rose Bowl in Pasadena. This year I will be entering my last year at UCLA, so I am most definitely an Angeleno through and through.

As such, I take much pride in supporting Los Angeles’ greatest and most storied athletic teams – the Lakers, the Dodgers, and the Bruins. One thing I hope to do during my time with the UCLA Life Blog, is share a bit more about the school from a sports fan’s perspective. For those of you who are incoming freshman, the Den Sports Pass is available for purchase here right now! For the ridiculously low price of $99, you get a Den tee-shirt and access to all of UCLA’s football and men’s basketball home games. As Pauley Pavilion is currently undergoing renovation, getting to the latter may require some extra effort on your part, but I guarantee – with the squad we are fielding this year – it will be worth it. Lastly, as a shout-out to one of my favorite sites on the interwebs, head on over to Bruins Nation for the best (in my opinion) unofficial, fan-based reporting on UCLA sports.

As for my path through college, I started out as a Chemistry / Materials Science major hoping to craft a career in academic research. As a student from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, I had the honor of taking classes with one of the best professors at the university, Yung-Ya Lin (read the review by Michael Criem), as well as the honor of working with a million-dollar microscope in one of the newest and most advanced facilities anywhere – CNSI.

But my attentions shifted after I went on a life-changing medical missions trip to Kenya, and becoming a physician became my new dream. To allow for the volunteering, MCAT preparation, and applying/interviewing that this dream involved, I switched to a less coursework-heavy major in Marine Biology, a childhood fantasy come true. The rest, they say, is history.

I look forward to sharing my experiences and expertise with you all. As a sneak peek into next week’s post, do some digging here.

Yours truly,


Freshman Clusters (and why you should take one)

Disclaimer: This description of the Freshman Cluster program may seem overly cheery as I liked my cluster as much as anyone can like a cluster. Like I was in the 99th percentile of cluster-liking. And you might, too!

The Freshman Cluster. The bombest class I have taken so far at UCLA (well, technically it was three classes, and I have only been at UCLA one year so far. But still, it beat out seven other courses. No offense Chicano Studies!). If you are not familiar with the Cluster, here is the lowdown:

  • year-long course
  • you stay with the same lecture class for Fall and Winter quarters and then break out into seminars
  • designed to help transition Freshman into college-level work
  • 6 units a class, so more work than a typical general education (GE) course
  • oh yeah, in three quarters you get rid of four GE requirements
  • and you satisfy your writing 2 requirement during the Spring quarter seminar
  • and to top it off, all of it counts for honors credit, sweet!

There are a variety of Cluster topics to choose from, all of which are available here. The topics range from interracial dynamics to the global environment to sex (which was mine!). And each topic is taught from a multi-disciplinary perspective, which basically means several professors from different subject areas come together to thoroughly teach one topic. For example, my Cluster was titled, “Sex: from Biology to Gendered Society.”

I had four professors: one biologist, one human geneticist, one evolutionary psychologist, and a sociologist. Fall quarter was dedicated mostly to the biology of sexual development and Winter dealt more with sociological concepts of gay identity, gender inequality, and more. It was really great because I was exposed to four disciplines, and they all worked together to give me a complex understanding of sex and gender. While taking a sociology class about gender dynamics may be interesting, the evolutionary explanations offered by ev. psychology give the sociology necessary context. All very cool stuff, really.

And all of the other classes are very similar! A team of professors teach together to give you, the student, a crazy in-depth explanation on something you (hopefully) find interesting.

In addition to the all the credits and stellar subject material, the cluster is a good way to also:

  1. gain research experience
  2. meet new friends

The research experience varies Cluster to Cluster. I know that in some Clusters, the research is heavily focused on going to the library and doing research for a lengthy paper. My Cluster focused less on going and finding and then citing others’ research; instead, we learned a lot about the process professors and other academics have to go through to do their own research. We read through many research presentations and reviews. Either way, you will recieve a valuable lesson in some sort of research and probably have an opportunity to do your own.

Finally, the Cluster is a great place to make friends! It was the only class that I consistently had people to sit next to in lecture and talk to after class. Most of the time in college, you make your friends in the dorms or groups on campus, but because you are with the same people for the entire year, you become more comfortable with them, and there are more opportunities to make friends. In Fall quarter, I actually met one of my best friends at UCLA just by complimenting her hair before lecture one day.

Seriously, I recommend the Cluster to every incoming Freshman. It helps you with your credits and requirements; it’s fun; it’s SO interesting; you will have something to bond with other Freshman about. If you have any questions, please comment!

Summer, is that you knocking at my door?

To most Bruins, 10th week is the last moments one has to kick back, relax, and reflect upon the wonders of the year in passing as a UCLA student before finals week hits. However, for some of us unlucky souls, it is but a reminder of the 9 weeks before. This past quarter I took three classes, and not to sound cliché, but I am one of those college students that loves college for more than just the social scene and fun adventures, but also loves it for the academia that it provides. I learned about human evolution and the transitions we made to adapt to our ever changing environments. I learned about body language and the perceptions our peers have about us. And finally, I learned how to right a dang good research paper about something I love, food. It was a pretty solid quarter.

However, what I can honestly say I didn’t love is that my wonderful and intelligent professors thought it would be a great idea to assign my finals, final projects, and research papers, to all be due 10th week. Noooooooo! I spent all week in a study cave indulging myself in coffee, paper cuts, and self loathing. Thursday was judgment day and as I turned in that last exam after having sat through 4 hours of back to back tests, I felt sweet bliss. I was done. DONE! It is summer time for me!!! Now it was my turn to kick back, relax, and reflect upon the wonder of the year in passing as a UCLA student, while the rest of the campus builds their study caves, says goodbye to society, and prepares for hibernation. One point: me.