Confessions of a Peer Advisor (Vol. 8) – Positivity & Open-Mindedness in the Job Search Process

Positive

How many of you have felt incompetent, discouraged, incapable, and just plain stupid after getting rejected from a job or internship that you were determined and passionate to attain? This may be a long shot, but I’m gonna go ahead and guess — everyone? Now, tell me — does the following sound familiar?

  • You search a myriad of career websites for jobs/internships.
  • You find the perfect job that pays well, is EXACTLY what you were looking for, has the perfect date/time frame, and will provide you with relevant experience for a potential career path, etc.
  • So, you polish your resume, CV, cover letter, and other documents.
  • And…SCORE! You get a call back for an interview.
  • You begin to research the company and the position, buy interview clothes (which may be a bit expensive), and record yourself answering typical interview questions on your laptop for practice.
  • After completing the interview and waiting anxiously for a response on whether you got the job or not, you get notified that you did not get the job.

Let’s be honest — the only way to not feel rejected, incompetent, incapable, discouraged, and just plain stupid is to not be human. In other words, it is completely normal and inevitable to feel this way. In fact, it is probably not normal if we didn’t feel this way. The feeling of social validation is innate to social beings, and when we don’t receive that validation, we automatically feel as though there is something wrong with us. Subsequently, we will experience Cognitive Dissonance — the psychological discomfort we feel when we vacillate between two beliefs that contradict each other. For instance, in order to assuage our feelings of disappointment, we will convince ourselves that the job was not a good match for us, when in fact, somewhere in our minds, we believe that it was the perfect fit. I’m not here to act like a self-help guide. So, rather than giving advice on how to relieve these feelings, I will discuss some of the proactive steps that will encourage, rather than discourage the next job hunt. The topics I will ponder will revolve around how to maintain open mindedness and positivity throughout the job search process, regardless of the countless rejections we may receive.


Being a third-year Psychology student, in addition to working as a Peer Advisor at the UCLA Career Center, has provided me with insight into possible career paths, such as Counseling, Human Resources, Organizational Development, Marketing, etc. However, just the other day, while I was listening to my professor lecture in my Social Cognitive Neuroscience course, I began to contemplate some other options — like graduate school. I had not thought about pursuing a Ph.D in Psychology ever since my first year at UCLA (back when I was completely naive of what research in Psychology was like). What triggered this thought was the moment I realized that I would no longer be taking Psychology courses after I graduate. This made me become aware of the fact that I may, in fact, want to continue studying a subject I was passionate about. Don’t get me wrong — this thought did not convince me to go to graduate school. Rather, it allowed me to see my future in an increasingly open-minded manner. I decided to not limit my options in terms of what I think I can do, and what others tell me to do, but rather what I would like to do, and what I would want to spend the rest of my life doing. And that’s precisely the mindset we should have when we begin our job search.

Personally, I noticed that I was limiting my options entirely based on the suggestions that others were giving me. Assuming that many students experience this as well, it is essential to be aware of the influence that others, whether it be your peers, parents, siblings, professors, or mentors, have on you. Instead of following the suggestions of others, who have a limited understanding of your interests, skills, and personality, you must follow your own suggestions. You must take into account the fact that the only person you are truly real with is yourselfWith that being said, it may seem counterproductive to put great emphasis on other people’s recommendations, when they don’t even have the accurate reflection of you. That’s not to say that you should not listen to others’ advice and guidance. However, you must understand that in the end, the decision is yours, and your decision should not be based solely on what someone else tells you to do.

To stay positive throughout the job search process, it is essential to understand how to begin the process. The probability of getting a job by blindly sending out resumes is very low. For this reason, to increase the chances of attaining a job you are passionate about, you must network, follow-up, research, and prepare as much as possible.

Here are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting a job:

  • Build your professional network – when you have the opportunity to connect with an employer, TAKE IT.
  • Research different companies and the positions they offer.
  • Look through various job search sites – there are MANY!
  • Perfect your resume, cover letter, CV, and/or any other requested documentation.
  • Brush up on your interviewing skills – mock interviews, record yourself answering typical questions, and keep practicing.

It is definitely not a guarantee that these tips will get you a job. This is the moment where you will experience those feelings of negativity, disappointment, rejection, and incompetence. And here’s where it’s tough to maintain the positivity. The important thing to do is to be aware of these feelings and to embrace them; they are completely normal and “human.” Once you become aware of them, you can work to alter them. When/if you receive a rejection email or phone call, it is entirely “human” to hate the recruiter and believe that he or she is simply a horrible person who is out to get you (Fundamental Attribution Error — look it up!). And that is definitely not the case. So, rather than believing that he or she is just plain mean, you can respond in a professional manner by simply thanking them for the opportunity, and asking for tips on how to improve. The recruiter may be impressed by your response and give you information on other job postings that you can apply for. In that way, you will not only be provided with an opportunity to improve yourself, but you will make a successful connection with a recruiter whom you may want to get in touch with in the future!

Finally, let’s face it — we can’t get everything we want. In fact, sometimes we should seek failure. It is the only way we can grow and be the best that we can be!

Here are some resources the UCLA Career Center offers that might help your job search. Make sure to check them out!

  • Career Counseling
  • Mock Interviews
  • Resume/Cover Letter Critiques
  • Career Fairs
  • JumpStarts/workshops

Visit our website, career.ucla.edu, to learn more about our services! Also, don’t forget to like us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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To Teach or Not To Teach? How shadowing at Teach for America helped one UCLA student decide if a career in teaching is right for her

This past spring break over 45 UCLA students participated in the UCLA Career Center’s “Career PREP” program, which offers first and second year students the opportunity to participate in a one-day externship in order to explore a career field of their choice.  Here’s one of their stories… 

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Clara Chan
First-year student
Business Economics major
Shadowed at Teach for America

This spring break, the UCLA Career Center gave me a wonderful opportunity to shadow a Teach For America corps member for my externship. For those of you who do not know, an externship gives the student a chance to shadow a host employer for one day and gain a better understanding about the daily work involved in a particular industry.

On March 24th, I nervously headed to my host’s classroom at Magnolia Science Academy, a low-income urban school. As part of its mission, Teach For America strove to help children in low-income communities receive a quality education. When I first walked in, I was graciously welcomed by my host, who turned out to be a UCLA alumni as well. That day, I was most fortunate to help her 8th grade Algebra 1 students with the quadratic formula. In addition to helping each table apply the formula to their math problems, I also helped them review for their quiz at the end of class.

Overall, this externship further strengthened my dream to become a math teacher and made me realize how much I loved working with kids. It was particularly the students’ “Aha!” moment when they understood how to solve a problem that made me feel being a teacher was worth it.  At the same time, after witnessing the challenge of maintaining classroom discipline and in consideration of my soft-spoken attitude, I decided to continue as a business economics major and consider teaching as a short-term occupation instead. The most important thing, however, was that come time to apply for teaching jobs, Teach For America would be the first on my list because it allowed me to practice my passion and assist those who truly needed help at the same time.

 

 

 

Confessions of a Peer Advisor (Vol. 4): Your Personality Type

Welcome to another edition of Confessions of a Peer Advisor with me, Sarah! I wanted to dedicate this blog to a personal interest of mine: your personality type. I’m interested in mine too, of course, but working at the Career Center, I’m lucky enough to know the importance of personality types every day. I’m afraid that not everyone else realizes this.

This blog inspiration is partly brought to you by Buzzfeed, the internet sensation known for bringing the world numerous personality quizzes that compare you to Frozen characters, or fruits, or Kardashians. Do these look familiar?

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I can’t say I have ever wondered whether I’m more of a Mona Lisa or a Claude Monet but when my Facebook newsfeed is bombarded with the results of these quizzes, it occurred to me that people were really interested in knowing more about themselves. Maybe they were doing it for fun (What food are you? A donut! LOL) but I noticed what makes them so fun is that at the end, when you get your result after answering whatever odd questions about your behavior, you get an answer that makes you go, “OMG that is SO true!” We’re a generation obsessed with comparing ourselves and when your personality matches a well-liked character’s, you similarly feel well-liked and validated.

I felt the same (Buzzfeed told me I was Oaken from Frozen and Mellie Grant from Scandal which I have NO complaints about), until I recently went to Disneyland and took the personality test that compares you to a Disney character. I got Ursula. A scary octopus lady. I tried to focus on Ursula’s better qualities- cunning, smart, dedicated to the cause- and hoped that those were true in addition to her being a little evil.

Self-evaluation is hard. Definitely not as straightforward as a simple online quiz. And while these online personality quizzes are just like anything else you read on Buzzfeed (slightly entertaining but ultimately unmemorable), they hint at the ultimate truth: who are you?

A loaded question, I know, and to make it even more deep is to point out that when it comes to your personality type, you don’t know what you don’t know. What do I mean by this, well, I’ve lived my whole life being called the “social butterfly” among me and my sisters which on one hand meant that in my parents’ eyes I always wanted to be with my friends and on the other hand I had a really hard time focusing on school work or sitting down for a long time because, hello, I’m a social butterfly and I need to go talk to people.

As I got older I internalized this, in some ways good and in some ways bad. I was proud of myself for making really great relationships with people but I also developed a huge insecurity about my academic strengths (or lack of in my eyes) which led me to feel useless and never good enough.

Fast forward a couple of years when I was introduced to the Myers Briggs personality test. This isn’t any old online personality test, but rather, the Myers Briggs test was developed by psychologists to map out four distinct facets of your personality based on your preferences in making decisions and how you perceive the world. This test reveals characteristics of yourself that come naturally to you. In other words, it tells you things about yourself you are already familiar with, but might not have ever been able to pinpoint exactly.

Talk about a gem! It might be a bit dramatic to say this realization changed my life but it certainly made me look at older perceptions of myself and put them into context. I am an ENFP: Extroverted, Intuition, Feeling, Perception. The portrait of an ENFP is as follows:

ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. Their enthusiasm lends them the ability to inspire and motivate others, more so than we see in other types. An ENFP needs to focus on following through with their projects. This can be a problem area for some of these individuals. Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivious to these types of concerns.

OMG that is SO true. Yes I will say that now because what the Myers Briggs test does is put all the Buzzfeed quizzes, all my characteristics seen in Oaken, Mellie Grant, and Ursula, all the ways I had been feeling my whole life about my strengths and weaknesses into one package that at best explains WHY I exhibit certain strengths and at its most constructive shows me why I struggle with other skills. Places where I found myself deficient happen for a reason and it’s not because I’m useless and not good enough, it’s because that’s just what I’m naturally weak in. It’s nothing that can’t be worked on once you know what it is.

When it comes to making big decisions in life, it is endlessly useful to know more about yourself. Should you choose a job that lets you talk to people all day, knowing that you display characteristics of an Extrovert? Yes. Should you choose a job that has a strict no tolerance policy in the workplace even though you find yourself more flexible with the rules, as Feeling people do? Probably not.

All this comes with knowing your personality type and the Career Center is one place to do it. If you take a personality assessment at the Career Center, you can have your results read comprehensively with a counselor and you’ll hopefully feel the way I did: at ease.

Confessions of a Peer Advisor (Vol. 2) : How to Approach Career Counseling

“Where do I begin?”

“What can I ask my counselor and how does it all work?”

“I don’t even know if I need career counseling or if it will even be useful!”

Perhaps those are the questions that go through your mind when you think about utilizing UCLA’s Career Counseling Services, I want you to know that you are not alone, those are questions that passed through my own mind when I first stepped into the Career Center. I was in my sophomore year and I knew my major but I had no idea about what I wanted to do and I was feeling so much pressure from my parents and my friends to have it all figured out. Everyone I knew seemed to have a plan, everyone had dreams and I didn’t. Did I completely miss something that everyone else didn’t? Some of you may be feeling the same exact thing at this very moment or have felt it at some point. My advice to you is, DO NOT WORRY!!!

The Career Center is for every single person at UCLA whether you have no idea what to major in, what career you would like to pursue, or for those of you who have known your calling all your lives and anybody in between. If you are still not convinced or convinced but uneasy about talking to a counselor who knows nothing about you, or maybe you just don’t know what to ask and what to start with let me share with you some things that I did to prepare for my career counseling appointment.

The first thing I did to prepare mentally was realize that I am an active participant in my career and personal development. I need to be realistic and understand that a career counselor is there to help guide me and provide resources, but it’s a two way street, my counselor cannot help me if I don’t actively engage with them.

The next thing I did to set myself up for a successful appointment and become an active participant was evaluate my goals. Like anything else in life, it’s better to approach things by setting goals for yourself to make sure that you are gaining or accomplishing something you had hoped to achieve or learn. If we don’t set goals, then everything we do is meaningless.

Begin by asking yourself, “What do I want to gain from this counseling appointment?” It can be anything from learning about our services, learning about different majors, careers related to your major and even finding out how to get an internship or create a resume.

The next thing I recommend for you to do and something that helped me is make a commitment to be completely honest with yourself and your career counselor. We are social beings that like to be liked, we seek approval from others and we like to feel good about ourselves, this can be bad during career counseling because you can trick yourself into feeling or believing something about yourself that may not be completely true. If there is something worrying or concerning you, remember that these are trained counselors that can help emotionally but they won’t be able to read your mind if you are not completely honest about your goals, attitude or emotions.

 

The last thing I would advise you to do is to be open to challenge. You may be challenged to take action and pursue an internship, go to an information session or take part in an informational interview. Be open to new opportunities, you never know where you will find your new career.

 

To make an appointment log into your Bruin View account, under the shortcuts menu click on “Request a Career Counseling Appointment” and just click on your type of counseling. *Please note that all appointment slots come out at 9:00 am every day M-F for that same day.*

 

From,

Natalie, Peer Advisor

THE KEY TO SWITCHING CAREER PATHS: UTILIZING YOUR RESOURCES

“I’ve been a pre-med student for the past couple years and recently decided medical school for me, but I’m at a total loss as to what other career options are available to me in the field of healthcare!”

Have you ever found yourself to be in a similar position? If you have, you’re not alone!  A countless number of people switch career paths each year, and end up finding new career paths that better suit their personalities. “But how do I find another career path?” you ask. Well, all it takes is utilizing the resources available to you, and doing your research on different healthcare careers. Investigate some careers that may be of interest to you to be able to get a better sense of what they would entail, what educational degree they’d require, and what the expected salary would be. And guess what? The UCLA Career Center Library has an ample amount of resources that are all there to help you investigate different jobs and find the job of your dreams!

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For those of you that are no longer pre-med, but are still looking into a career in healthcare, look no further than Shelly Field’s book, Career Opportunities in Healthcare. This book provides information on several different healthcare career options, which include social work, healthcare administration, music therapy, nursing, pharmacy, speech pathology, physical therapy, and much more! But wait, there’s more! In addition to providing you with full-length descriptions of jobs, salary information, and educational requirements, Field’s also mentions certain skills and personality traits that would be best fit for each career reviewed in the book. This will help you determine whether such a career would be right for you, or if you should look into another career that would allow you to put more of your skills to use!

Want even more help finding careers in the field of healthcare? Look no further than Ferguson’s, What Can I Do Now? (Healthcare Edition). If you’re in need of advice on taking a hands-on approach to career exploration, this is the book for you! There are several different ways you can do your own research to prepare for careers in healthcare, and this book will help you take full advantage of all resources! The internet is a great place to start with your research- it’s always a good idea to read about the industry you’re looking into online. Now that you’ve got a basis established, join different healthcare associations to gain benefits such as the opportunity to attend seminars and conferences within your desired career. Shadowing healthcare professionals is also a great way to gain a better sense of what such a career would entail, and would help ensure that this specific career in healthcare is right for you.

Have any of you felt as though a healthcare career in general is no longer the right fit for you, even though you’ve majored in _________ (insert science or health related major here)? Not to worry! Here at the Career Center, we’re here to tell you that your major doesn’t determine your career path. So even if you’re a Phy Sci major, don’t feel limited to careers in the field of healthcare. There’s a world of job opportunities out there for you to choose from, and believe it or not, they don’t discriminate by major. So, if any of you previous pre-meds have decided that you’d like to stray away from healthcare and take on a whole new career, check out Ron and Caryl Krannich’s book, I Want to do Something Else, But I’m not sure What. This book will help you start fresh with your job search, and will help provide you with the steps toward finding a job that’ll feel satisfying to you. As Confucius said, “If you find something you love to do, you will never work a day in your life.” Strive to do something you love, and use the strategies the Krannichs’ mention to help you discover your strengths and relate your values to a new career.

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For those of you that would like to find out more on your skills and personality traits, take advantage of the Career Center’s services and take the personality and skill assessments. These assessments will help you evaluate your personality and skills, and provide you with career options based on your results. Sign up on BruinView through the Workshops and Information Sessions tab.

So don’t worry about leaving the pre-med world, there are an endless amount of jobs for you to explore out there, and with these simple tips and resources, you’ll be able to find another career in healthcare, or even in another field, in no time.

Being UNDECLARED: The most misunderstood college phenomenon

Maybe being undeclared in college isn’t the MOST misunderstood college phenomenon. After all, college students do hordes of odd things that would never fly in the real world- living off naps, cheap food, weekday parties, and a primal urge to do whatever it takes to pass classes- and somehow being undeclared became one of “those” things that people kind of shake their head at or give questioning-mixed-with-pity looks.

Listen, everyone. Being undeclared is nothing to problematize. In fact, I would argue that being undeclared is a beautiful time in a college student’s life, a time of bountiful self-discovery, endless wonder, sprinkled with the right amount of apprehension to keep you on your toes.

However, it’s hard to feel that way when a typical conversation as an undeclared student goes like this:

“So what’s your major?”

“Oh I’m undeclared.”

“Oh cool, so what are you leaning towards?”

“I have a couple of ideas but I’m really still not sure.”

“So you have NO idea what you want to do?” (insert look of scorn)

“Wait what, no, I most certainly did not say that, I just said I’m not sure. I’m looking at a lot of options, and want to be open to different opportunities”

~At this point in the story, let’s revert to a “Choose Your Own Ending Format!” The choices are:

1. “Oh gosh, sounds like you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you!”

2. “I’ve heard a lot of people do Psych or Econ, maybe you can do that.”

3. “How interesting, I’m pre-med/law/optometry/podiatrist, so I in no way can relate to this struggle you’re going through, but good for you!”

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This polar bear feels your pain.

Alright, I’m sufficiently tired of this. As a previously undeclared student (and I’m talking years of being undeclared, I would venture the label “former professional undeclared student” is fairly apt), I’m taking a stand for all undeclared students out there.

So here’s my public service announcement about being undeclared.

THINGS TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT BEING UNDECLARED

  1. Really think about what it means to be undeclared. Oh so in a world of possibilities and a college full of opportunities, you have yet to confine yourself on a path to studying different variations of the same topic for four years straight? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!
    Does this make more sense? Being undeclared is not a choice to be an aimless wanderer, it’s the choice to have the absence of structure and feel free in your decisions to explore and try new things.
  2. When you’re undeclared, you have the option of taking a bunch of different classes and they can be anything from science to history to squirrel feeding. For some people, this works for their personality. And if you’ve never thought about how much your personality permeates your life, get ready to have your mind blown. Some people are naturally, inherently, more inclined to embrace variety and so taking a lot of different classes is actually beneficial for them. Some people might say they’re “all over the place” but I like to think of these people (myself included so this is only slightly biased) as trailblazers and explorers.
  3. Don’t fall into the trap of “doing what everyone else is doing” or  choosing something that is “economically sound.” What does that even mean? You are not everyone else- you have your own personality and your own set of values and whatever you choose to do should be in line with those parts of you. When you’re true to yourself, you have less to explain about your motivation and choices and this is an endlessly useful tool when you run into conversations like the one described above.
  4. When you’re navigating the waters of being undeclared, just remember, this time in your life ends soon. One day, you will eventually have to leave college with a degree in your hand that says you majored in _______________. My main piece of advice for those undeclared students is to be positive; a lot of the struggles you experience as an undeclared student are the result of your reactions to social stigmas and let’s remember how well those work out for everyone.

A lot of information here comes from my own experiences being undeclared and I can confidently say I did not come into college with any of these conclusions. I was lost and scared and annoyed about feeling like the only undeclared person in a sea of people who, in my mind, had their head on straight, and it wasn’t until I took a lot of self-discovery and self-improvement steps that I learned the truth: I am not an anomaly.

And so how do I stand here now, as a senior looking back on my time in college with the wisdom to write this post? I’ll say trial and error played a large part, but I needed help, and that came from the UCLA Career Center.

The Career Center was made for people who (want to go to law school/med school/grad school/know what they’re doing) have no idea what they want to do. Not only that, they understand and encourage taking the journey that leads you to your best outcome in your future career and life, which is making the right decisions based on your personality and values and strengths. At the Career Center, you can take assessments on these topics and discover more about you. A counselor will help you decode these tests, and their insight is similarly invaluable.

And check out the Career Exploration section of the library! There are books on everything from personality types, choosing a major, and my personal favorite, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which gives you realistic ideas of future careers you can have. So for those of you who only have a fuzzy idea of what you want your future career to be, this book gives you tons of examples of real careers and even if you’re not ready to make a choice yet, you are always more than welcome to be enamored by the idea of being a teacher one day and then flip to the back of the book the next day and want to be an urban planner.

Finally, let’s get rid of the notion that being undeclared is painful. It’s not, and if it ever gets to you just remember…

ImageBe you. Be awesome. And come to the Career Center!

GAP YEAR: What opportunities are available during my year off? Click here to find out!

“Should I take a year off after I graduate? Or should I apply for graduate school straight from college? A lot of people have told me that if I take a year off, then I’ll never go back to school! But then again, I’ve heard other people tell me that it is essential to get some hands-on experience before going back to school! I’m so confused! What do I do?!”

Ah, the gap year. Before we get into the nitty gritty of gap year opportunities, let’s begin with a couple of quick tips in regards to your potential year off:

  • Relax and take a deep breath – it is completely normal to take a year off, and most college graduates do it. Don’t listen to those students who regret their gap year because they “were unable to get back into school mode.” This is definitely not the case for everyone. If you’re determined to go back to school, you will go back to school. Some students even claim that a gap year enables them to go back to school with renewed vigor and motivation!
  • Research more about the different opportunities available to you – you can do anything from finding an internship, teaching abroad (like in Japan!), traveling the world, or even learning a new language! The opportunities are truly endless.
  • If you do in fact want to go back to school, make sure your gap year activities are worthwhile – for instance, if you are applying to a Clinical Psychology program, it would be worthwhile to volunteer in a shelter for battered women or rape victims.
  • Use your gap year as a way to get to know yourself better – this is the time when you want to try out new things, volunteer at different places, learn more about research and clinical processes, travel to different countries, etc. Be adventurous and creative!

If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of a Gap Year, then visit the UCLA Career Center Library (2nd largest library in the nation!) to read more about it. We have compiled a couple of books that we thought would be the best guide for those who are considering taking a year off…and especially for those in search of international opportunities.

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The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life by Pam Grout

  • Discusses pros and cons of volunteer vacations
  • Divided into seven chapters – North America & the Caribbean, central and South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australia and around.

Your Gap Year by Susan Griffith

  • Why take a gap year?

Volunteering Around the Globe by Suzanne Stone

  • What types of volunteering (and international) opportunities are available for students? How can students figure out the type of volunteering that they want to do?

The Big Trip

  • Another great read for those interested in traveling the world and finding opportunities across the globe!

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….that the UCLA Career Center provides you with Opportunity Lists on BruinView, where you can access updated lists of various internships, volunteer options, research programs, etc.? As a matter of fact, the Career Center recently added a new list of Gap Year options. Here are the steps to get there (with pictures!):

1. Sign on to your BruinView account (if you have not registered, REGISTER NOW!) through career.ucla.edu/BruinView.

2. Under the Resources tab, click on Opportunity Lists.

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3. Scroll down all the way to the bottom of the page, and click on either FELLOWSHIPS // Pre-Med Gap Year Programs or GAP Year (all majors) – Ideas to get you started.

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4. Finally, after clicking on either post (we’ll stick to “All Majors” for now), you should come to this page:

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Clearly, this is just a snapshot of the page, but now that you know the steps to get there, you can learn more about your gap year options on your own!

For more information, visit the UCLA Career Center or get connected with us through our website, Facebook and Twitter!