THE GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE LEARNED – Part 4

Hi there!

As a senior graduating some time in the near future, I’m here to share with you the greatest piece(s) of advice I’ve learned along my four years in college and 21 years of existence. I say pieces, because it’s hard for me to distill these instances down into a singular defining moment. So rather, I’m going to tell you about the path I went along to obtaining and internalizing these things.

I’d consider my identity unique, but I know it’s far from uncommon at UCLA. I’m the child of first-generation immigrants, who toiled to build lives for themselves anew, amongst great uncertainty. Fortunately for me, my parents were mostly successful. And since they (and the first-generational culture they surrounded themselves with) had discovered how to “make it,” they passed these formulas down to the second-generation (that’s me, and quite possibly you).

Most often these paths included the career arenas of Medicine, Engineering, Law, and Business — which is great if you are inclined towards and actually enjoy the above mentioned professions. But I never once had a second-generation friend who went to their parents with “I want to be an writer/artist/insert creative or alternative path here _____” and received encouragement. Instead, they would hear what so many immigrant parents tell their children:  “_____ is not the safest route in life. We didn’t sacrifice all this for you to take up a precarious profession.”

That brings me towards advice piece #1. Hint: I am one of those people. I’ve been a high achiever my whole life and rather gifted at math and science. I pursued that safety formula for as long as I can remember, without really understanding why. Suffice it to say, I hit a breaking point halfway through college and realized I didn’t want to spend the rest of my time at school, or in my life doing something I didn’t really enjoy all that much. I watched this TED talk by Larry Smith called Why you will fail to have a great career. In his talk, Smith speaks about passion being the driving force for a life lived to its utmost potential, and the difference between settling for mediocrity and a creating a truly great career.

After I heard Smith’s talk, everything kind of just clicked for me. I took his words and juxtaposed them with what my parents and their culture had been urging onto me. And while I accept that the thought process comes from a place of concern and compassion — they only want to ensure security and alleviate potential suffering for their children — I decided I could not settle for the formula for success (read: safety).

And that brings me to the second point of advice. In Smith’s equation, there is no room for safety. But deliberately placing yourself on the front lines of uncertainty is something easier said than done, especially when you have people around you questioning your choices at all times. I didn’t fully grasp the significance of my decision, or come up with a way to justify it to myself amidst anxiety and self-doubt, until I heard Dr. Brené Brown’s thoughts on The Power of Vulnerability. I know at this point I’m beginning to sound like I work for the marketing team at TED, but I don’t, I promise (although I guess that could be cool). I do, however, think these talks are among the site’s most popular for a reason.

Brown’s talk taught me one of the most important things I’ve learned in my life. It is that being vulnerable  I mean really embracing it as fundamental — is essential to attaining joy and fulfillment.

So where does this leave me now? Well, it’s almost going to be two years since I decided to deviate from my selected formula of safety (pre-med) and into a path more authentic and enjoyable for me (film school). I’m graduating soon, and even if the future may be a bit uncertain, I know that all will be well when I’m following and nurturing my passions with vulnerability.

Vesta Partovi | UCLA Career Center Peer Advisor

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To Undeclared Students: Your Future Is as Open as Your Mind

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By Kexin Yu, Peer Advisor

Last week, we, as the representatives of Career Center, tabled at Major Blast 2014 and spoke to hundreds of freshmen within 2 hours. They all looked aspiring, but unsettled at the same time. They bombarded us with similar questions. “I don’t know what to do in the future.” “How can I choose a major?” “Does Career Center offer personality assessments?” I smiled to them, whispering in a voice that they could hardly hear, “Don’t worry. I know exactly how you feel. You are just as the old me one year ago.”

I was under great pressure during my freshman year. When my friends already stamped their ambitious, four-year timeline on the wall and were quite determined about their major decision, I was even struggling with my class planner for my very first quarter. I couldn’t start with the right pre-major courses. Also, being undecided seemed to me a negative state of indecision. I felt so timid (and even a little shamed) every time we were asked to introduce our names and majors to other classmates, since I was still unready and unable to determine my goals.

But I tried to calm down. Being undecided can also mean being open-minded. You can investigate new areas before you make up your mind. This is probably the last time you have such freedom to design your own dream studying plan. When you start to work, endless assignments and responsibilities consume you and you have so little time concentrating on your own interest. Sometimes, people who seem to have a clear vision about their future may be just compromising the matter with their parents. So first, I took introductory psychology, which was one of the fields that I was most eager to explore. The course offered me unparalleled insights into a brand new world. I was totally amazed by the wide application of psychology and the exciting research opportunities it has to offer. We read good books authored by patients suffering mental diseases and even got to meet the writers in person at the end of the quarter. However, it also gave me realistic views about an area which I thought I was very enthusiastic about. I then realized, although psychology is a great subject, that’s not what I want to do for a career.

Don’t be discouraged by words like, “You make little money if you do this job”. You will definitely feel uneasy about this later on in your life, since you reject the opportunity to have a try. Also, don’t push yourself so hard in the first year. Taking  GE courses and seminar might also be a smart choice. The film class, architecture history and political science that I took greatly enriched my freshman year at UCLA and led me to get inspired by the ideas and expertise of prominent professors from various cutting-edge areas.

Another advice: being strategic when you enroll in classes. Narrow down your choices by crossing off the ones that fail to appeal you. Choose subjects that not only intrigue you but can also fulfill the requirements of a great many majors. Then you will not fall very behind and graduate in a timely manner just as others. For example, I took Chemistry 20A rather than 14A since the former can apply to more science majors. Starting from scratch will definitely stress you out, especially when your peers are already half the way there! Do more research in the syllabus and contents of the courses that you are likely to choose. Sometimes having the knowledge of what material will be covered help you realize whether or not you are truly interested in this subject. Is this what you really want to spend time exploring and do it for a living?

Also, talk to peers with various majors. I originally thought I would never care about how a computer software actually works and were so prejudiced against programming geeks. And I always believed computer science is an area in which I had no talent. However, it turned out that it was only because I had never tried. A lot of my friends were “tortured” by C++ at that timem and so I also boldly took up this new challenge. To my surprise, I totally fell in love with it. Now, I’m even thinking about take Mathematics of Computation as my major. Moreover, seek answers to your questions from upperclassmen. Get to know what they consider as the most wonderful experience in those upper division courses and learn from their experience.

Remember, everything you learn or spend energy on eventually pays off. Maybe just in an unexpected way. People are frustrated when they begin to do something new because they feel what they’ve already done is just a waste of time. I also took Management 1A, Principles of Accounting, in the spring quarter. Although it seems not related to my curriculum, its philosophy influence me a lot. I become familiar with how a corporation actually runs and how to keep it organized and make best practices. This can apply to all aspects of life and everyone should at least have some knowledge of it. The course also helps me build a broad set of transferrable skills that will provide me not only a meaningful job but also a purposeful life in the future. And which employer would reject a well-rounded applicant?

Try to engage in as many self-discovery activities as possible outside the classroom. Going to Career Center to access our amazing assessment inventories can help you find your way. Also, during the spring break, I joined the UCLA Career PREP program which helps its participants get a glimpse of what a particular industry looks like through a one-day job shadowing experience. Actually, I stayed more than one day but a whole week during my host company, Park & Sylva Law Firm, after I found out that my experience was more than I could have expected. This externship provided me early exposure to professional law world and I could then decide whether or not I still want to enter that field. To get involved in a real working environment gives you more reliable facts about that industry than any TV series version. This unique experience even encouraged me to use what I gained to help other programs at Career Center grow. And that’s how I became a peer advisor for this academic year. (Now it’s only Week 4 and I still have a lot to learn. However, I already feel so lucky and fulfilled being in this position.) Helping others is just helping yourself. I grow so fast when I attempt to address the concerns of others in the best manner.

Although, sometimes my friends frown at my “random” class schedule and always seem confused, “What exactly is your major?” But, see? Isn’t it great sometimes being undecided? I always believe that everything starts with coincidence but ends up with destiny. Things that best match your capabilities and interests will come up to you while you keep wandering and wandering. Also, you should know that your major does not determine your entire career! So don’t freak out!

You should know that you are actually in great company! Studies show that 75% college students change their majors before graduation. Do not figure out all things on your own. Take advantage of resources around you. Make regular academic counseling with your advisors and eventually you will be able to make a concrete, sound choice independently.

So Bruins, take off your anxiety and embrace the chance to explore! Have a nice academic year! 

Questioning The Pre-Med Journey

You were Pre-Med, but now you’re not so sure if it’s the right path for you. What’s Next?

 

            Is this a thought you’ve experienced at any point while on your Pre-med journey? If you have, don’t worry you are not alone! Many students wonder if the medical path is right for them while going through their undergraduate careers, or even when they take time off from college. At some point, the thought of another career path, or whether you really want to go to medical school may come into mind. While this may make you feel disoriented, with just a few easy tips, this overbearing decision will be easier for you to manage.

 

            First and foremost, if you ever question whether being Pre-med is the right option for you, you might want to explore medicine and all that it entails to see if you really do enjoy the field and would really like to be a future doctor. A few ways you can explore the medical field are by shadowing doctors, interning, volunteering, doing research, or speaking to students in medical school as well as current doctors about their experiences. Now, you don’t have to do all these things at once; they are simply ways you can immerse yourself into the field of medicine to see if it is the right path for you. There are tons of opportunities for you to get involved, your job is to seek out these opportunities to help you go through your career exploration process.

 

Charlotte, a recent UC Berkeley graduate, stated “I always wanted to go into medicine, but decided due to various reasons to explore what my university had to offer during my time as an upperclassman. I really got into clinical research, and the classes I took built on my budding interest, so for a while I began debating if maybe clinical research or a position in the public health sector was right for me. After exploring, I found my way back to the pre-med track.” As you can see through Charlotte’s story, exploring other options may help you realize whether pursuing a medical degree is the right option for you.

 

However, don’t feel alarmed if you decide on a different healthcare path, or different career path all together, after exploring other options. Brent, a senior at UCLA, explored career options outside the field of medicine and found that dentistry was a better healthcare path for him to pursue. Brent mentioned that no matter what he did, he knew he wanted to have a very hands-on position, leading him to explore the options of either going through the Pre-med track and in hopes of becoming a surgeon, or switching to another healthcare path that involved lots of hands-on exposure. Brent came to the conclusion that he may also be interested in dentistry, since it is so hands-on, and decided to shadow a surgeon to help him get a sense of whether he should stay on the Pre-med track. “In shadowing the surgeon, I found that I would want to see quick results from my work if I were a doctor. In surgery, you do use your hands but results can take up to weeks or months. While I was premed, I had begun to expose myself in other fields such as dentisry. I was fascinated by the quickness of the results, the idea of using your hands with drilling instruments, being creative and paying attention to detail in a localized area, the high patient interaction, and the challenge to make your patient at ease when coming to the office. In addition, the lifestyle for dentists is a lot less draining in my opinion, both during and after school.” While Charlotte’s career exploration took her back to the medical field, Brent’s led him to find another area of interest in the healthcare field. Both options are valid options for students to take; you just have to take advantage of the opportunities available to you to help determine if you are really interested in medicine.

Now, for those of you who are interested in medicine, but either started to take your prerequisites late in your undergraduate career or did not receive grades you were pleased with, you have the option of entering a Postbaccalaureate program for a couple years to help satisfy the coursework and grades needed to apply to medical school. For those of you wondering what a Postbac program is, it is simply a program geared toward college graduates that helps students who want to apply to medical school complete the necessary prerequisite coursework. There are two types of postbac programs: the first is designed for “career changers,” which are those students that have not yet completed their science prerequisites as they were likely to decide on the medical field late in their educational careers. The second is for students who are looking to improve their science course grades by retaking the courses through a postbac program. In Charlotte’s case, she chose to pursue a postbac program before applying to medical school. “I didn’t find it worth it to squeeze in my final prerequisites into my time as an undergrad and decided to avoid overfilled courses by choosing a postbac path. There are various options and everyone’s sure to find a program or school to fit their needs. I’m still continuing to do research and will also be volunteering in a hospital during my studies,” she said. As you can see, there are options available to you, even if the sciences weren’t your topic of interest or strong point while in undergrad. A postbac program can help you build your medical school application, and improve your science prerequisites. A postbac program can be found at undergraduate universities all over the nation.

 

If you still aren’t sure if the Pre-med track is the right track for you after gaining experience and speaking to professionals in the field, you may want to consider some other healthcare professions that may still satisfy your desire to help others and work in a field related to medicine. Some common healthcare careers are: physician’s assistant, pharmacists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, genetic counselors, and veterinarians. These are all healthcare options for you to consider, and at the UCLA Career Center, we have a Career Library filled with books on healthcare career options that also provide you with information on the educational requirements, salary, and working environments for these professionals. Feel free to stop by at the Career Center to further your career exploration process.

 

Lastly, if you decide that a career in the healthcare field is no longer right for you, there are other options out there that you can explore. Vesta, a Peer Advisor at the UCLA Career Center, was once a pre-med student, but over time, she came to realize medicine, or a career in healthcare, was not for her. “I still found it all extremely interesting and important, but I didn’t wake up in the morning excited to go to class and learn science, or do healthcare for the rest of my life. And that got me thinking, is there something I could be learning about/doing in the future that would make me happier? And there was. So I decided to pursue that and it made all the difference,” Vesta said. She explored her options and decided to pursue a career in the film industry instead. If you are interested in getting a sense of what other career paths may be right for you, feel free to make an appointment to meet with a career counselor at the UCLA Career Center, or take one of several assessments we offer to help you gain a better sense of what career may work best for you.

 

Now that you’re aware of ways to determine if the Pre-med path is right for you, I wish you the best of luck in your career exploration process and in your future endeavors. And remember, there is nothing wrong with switching career paths. It’s important to find your passion, and to do what you love, as you’ll be the one in this field throughout your professional life. As Confucius said, “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

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

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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!

CONFESSIONS OF A PEER ADVISOR (VOL. 5): INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWING

Greetings everyone!

Welcome to a new edition of Confessions of a Peer Advisor, this time with your Peer Advisor, Vesta.

I’d like to start out by introducing myself, giving you a little bit about my background so you can understand one of my most important tips to Career Discovery: informational interviewing.

If you’ve ever been stressed over figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life, welcome to the club! Seriously, I’ve been there. And that was probably one of the things that caused me the most anxiety during my initial time as a college student at UCLA (and sometimes still does!) My journey of undecidedness has brought me from coming into UCLA as pre-med to an interested-in-science pre-health-something-or-other, to an I-no-longer-want-to-do-science-what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life-HELP sophomore, and finally, a I’m-still-figuring-things-out-but-I’m-happy-while-doing-it junior who transferred into the film school. Yes, you read correctly, film school. I changed my major from science to film, and my career trajectory from pre-med to pre-Hollywood. Big jump, right? How do you think someone (in the right mind) comes about that sort of (literally) life-altering decision? Well the process definitely isn’t easy. But something that really helped me during my frantic, “I need to figure out what direction I’m going to take my life in NOW” mode and guide me towards my ultimate, firm decision was informational interviewing — and I didn’t even know I was doing it!

The concept of ‘informational interviewing’ was conceived by Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the best-selling career handbook, What Color Is Your Parachute? In his book, Bolles describes the process as “trying on jobs to see if they fit you.” He notes that most people choose a career path without taking the time to speak with professionals in their field of interest. As a result, they find themselves in careers that are not a true match for their skills, values, interests, and abilities.

Therefore, an informational interview is conducted when you “interview” someone who has a career you are considering to see if it is really something that you would like to do. Now I’m sure some the more anxious ones of you out there have already partaken in some form of information interviewing, one way or another. It could have been asking a family friend how they liked their job if you were considering that field, or talking to your dentist or doctor about how they got to becoming the healthcare professional they were if you were considering it. These informal interactions are definitely informational interviews in essence. But what if you are interested in a certain career and you don’t know anyone in it to talk about with? Did you know there is a formal informational interviewing process you can be making use of as a college student that could put you into contact with virtually any professional in any career you could be considering? There is! And most students don’t know about it or don’t even believe it to be an acceptable thing.

So what is a legitimate informational interview? Essentially, it is a highly focused information gathering session with a networking contact designed to help you choose or refine your career path by giving you the “insider” point of view. Networking contact, you say? How does one procure one of those, exactly? Well it’s not too hard when you go to UCLA! We have a huge alumni network here, which you can use to find plenty of potential contacts with which to conduct informational interviews. (Use the Alumni function on LinkedIn or see http://alumni.ucla.edu/bruinworks/).

Case study: Me!

Long story short, an important reason behind why I was able to make such an enormous, yet confident, career-path shift during my first two years at UCLA was through informal and then formal informational interviewing. I figured out I didn’t want to be pre-med after an in depth conversation with the director of admissions at Drexel Medical School (who was also a practicing internalist and my mom’s good friend). I did the same thing with researchers in the Psychology lab I volunteered at, and slowly started figuring out which career paths weren’t for me. When I started testing out the waters of the entertainment industry, I decided to take a producing class in the film department where the professor brought guest speakers every week to talk about their specific careers and roles in the industry. Afterwards, I would go up to each professional whose story interested me, and ask them follow-up questions about their job (whether they liked it, where they felt like it was taking them, etc.) The answers that I received gave me a better sense of what it was exactly that I wanted to do. Flash-forward to today, when I am trying to figure out which specific department on the corporate side of the film/television industry that I want to ultimately work in. I recently used one of the networking connections I made in that producing class to conduct my first formal informational interview with, and the experience was amazing.

What happens during a “real” informational interview?

Basically, you arrange with your networking contact to speak with them (usually face-to-face in their professional environment, although it could also occur over the phone) and ask them questions about what they do.

You use their answers to help guide your own career discovery: whether a career like theirs is something you would like to have or not, and if so, to help determine your path to getting there. Networking contacts are almost always more than happy to conduct informational interviews for students like yourself, their advice is 100% free AND helps ensure that you are indeed making the right choice when it comes time to answer that dreadful question: what am I actually going to do with the rest of my life?!

What more can you ask for?

I hope I’ve convinced you to look into informational interviewing and try it out for yourself.

To view some tips about how to find contacts, set up informational interviews and prepare for them, visit http://career.ucla.edu/students/ExploreCareers/WhatIsAnInformationalInterview.aspx. And for more personalized advice, you can always set up an appointment to meet with a Career Counselor at the UCLA Career Center.

Happy interviewing!!

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?

quizzes

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