The Greatest Piece of Advice I have Learned – Part 6

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If you ask me what I liked most about my Psychology classes, I would probably say the people you meet in them. There are some who are simply pursuing a Psychology degree because they think it’s “easy” and then there are the ones who are so nerdy and quirky that they talk about their classes during their dining hall meals with friends. I was definitely the latter. And my favorite conversations were with those who felt the same way.

In my second year, I met some people in my Developmental Psych class who made me realize something about myself – a fundamental flaw, I think, that kept me from taking on challenges, experiencing new things, and learning more about the world and myself.

That Developmental Psych class primarily involved group work, which allowed us to meet our fellow classmates and learn more about each other’s experiences with classes, professors, and various topics in Psychology. One of my friends, who happened to be a Cognitive Science major, couldn’t stop talking about her neuroscience courses, her research position in a memory research lab, and her interests outside of class. She was immensely passionate about her studies, and constantly pushed herself to do more.

I was particularly drawn to people like this because they conveyed a passion that was unlike anything I had seen before. They made me question some things about myself. Why was I so afraid to take a challenging course? Why did I never attend any student organization meetings? Why did I not apply for research positions? Why did I not apply for summer internships? Why did barely go to Professor’s office hours?

The field of Psychology encompasses a variety of different areas, ranging from Social and Developmental Psychology, all the way to Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. When I first began to take classes, my interests were focused around the softer Psych classes, rather than the harder science courses. Unfortunately, as a Psychology major, there were some course requirements that I couldn’t run away from, such as Sensation and Perception and Cognitive Psychology. Of course, if I were not required to take those classes, I would definitely avoid them at all costs. In this case, I had no choice.

But it was because I had no choice that I realized just how much I enjoyed Cognitive Psychology. In fact, it turned out to be my favorite class at UCLA. Had I not been required to take it, I would have been too afraid and reluctant to take the class, and I would have never known…

…Which then begs the question, what else did I turn down in the past, that might’ve taught me something about myself, or might’ve given me extraordinary experience for a potential career path?

 At this point, I wouldn’t know. But it brings me to my next point – the greatest piece of advice I have learned.

“You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.”   – Jennifer J. Freeman

That was my problem. I was the only thing standing in the way of all of the experiences I hadn’t had. I was simply afraid of failing. For that reason, I never tested new waters and I never had challenged myself with new opportunities.

I do not regret all the “risks” I did not take in the past because I was never aware that I was the only thing standing in my own way. But I’m here to remind you guys that if you’re afraid to take that one really hard class by that really difficult professor, just do it, try it out, you have absolutely nothing to lose. If you’re hesitant to apply for that summer internship, just do it, you may or may not get an interview, but at least you tried. If you’re reluctant to go to a career fair because you’re nervous about talking to employers, just do it, because you never know what might happen.

Personally, I would choose failures over the feelings of regret for not even trying.

Good luck on finals, everyone! But remember – the Career Center is open during Finals week if you still need help!

– Cynthia | Peer Advisor, UCLA Career Center

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The Greatest Piece of Advice I Have Learned – Part 6

you-are-far-too-smart-to-be-the-only-thing-standing-in-your-own-way-37622

If you ask me what I liked most about my Psychology classes, I would probably say the people you meet in them. There are some who are simply pursuing a Psychology degree because they think it’s “easy” and then there are the ones who are so nerdy and quirky that they talk about their classes during their dining hall meals with friends. I was definitely the latter. And my favorite conversations were with those who felt the same way.

In my second year, I met some people in my Developmental Psych class who made me realize something about myself – a fundamental flaw, I think, that kept me from taking on challenges, experiencing new things, and learning more about the world and myself.

That Developmental Psych class primarily involved group work, which allowed us to meet our fellow classmates and learn more about each other’s experiences with classes, professors, and various topics in Psychology. One of my friends, who happened to be a Cognitive Science major, couldn’t stop talking about her neuroscience courses, her research position in a memory research lab, and her interests outside of class. She was immensely passionate about her studies, and constantly pushed herself to do more.

I was particularly drawn to people like this because they conveyed a passion that was unlike anything I had seen before. They made me question some things about myself. Why was I so afraid to take a challenging course? Why did I never attend any student organization meetings? Why did I not apply for research positions? Why did I not apply for summer internships? Why did barely go to Professor’s office hours?

The field of Psychology encompasses a variety of different areas, ranging from Social and Developmental Psychology, all the way to Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. When I first began to take classes, my interests were focused around the softer Psych classes, rather than the harder science courses. Unfortunately, as a Psychology major, there were some course requirements that I couldn’t run away from, such as Sensation and Perception and Cognitive Psychology. Of course, if I were not required to take those classes, I would definitely avoid them at all costs. In this case, I had no choice.

But it was because I had no choice that I realized just how much I enjoyed Cognitive Psychology. In fact, it turned out to be my favorite class at UCLA. Had I not been required to take it, I would have been too afraid and reluctant to take the class, and I would have never known…

…Which then begs the question, what else did I turn down in the past, that might’ve taught me something about myself, or might’ve given me extraordinary experience for a potential career path?

 At this point, I wouldn’t know. But it brings me to my next point – the greatest piece of advice I have learned.

“You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.”   – Jennifer J. Freeman

That was my problem. I was the only thing standing in the way of all of the experiences I hadn’t had. I was simply afraid of failing. For that reason, I never tested new waters and I never had challenged myself with new opportunities.

I do not regret all the “risks” I did not take in the past because I was never aware that I was the only thing standing in my own way. But I’m here to remind you guys that if you’re afraid to take that one really hard class by that really difficult professor, just do it, try it out, you have absolutely nothing to lose. If you’re hesitant to apply for that summer internship, just do it, you may or may not get an interview, but at least you tried. If you’re reluctant to go to a career fair because you’re nervous about talking to employers, just do it, because you never know what might happen.

Personally, I would choose failures over the feelings of regret for not even trying.

Good luck on finals, everyone! But remember – the Career Center is open during Finals week if you still need help!

– Cynthia | Peer Advisor, UCLA Career Center

THE GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER LEARNED – Part 3

Growing up, I played soccer and volleyball competitively, and I loved it. Not necessarily for the life advice but because I loved the thrill of the game and the challenge. Looking back, it wasn’t until I stopped playing that I realized all the lessons I had learned playing soccer and volleyball could be directly applied to life in general.

There is one piece of advice in particular that I consider the “greatest” though. Let me set the stage:

By my sophomore/junior year of high school, I felt pretty burnt out on sports after playing in back to back seasons for so long. I also wanted to focus more on my academics before applying to college. I had not planned on playing club volleyball, but my coaches and former teammates/friends convinced me that we should have one last hurrah. We would only practice once a week for a couple hours and go to 4 tournaments total. I agreed, and the season got started without a hitch. The greatest piece of advice I ever received didn’t occur until our 3rd tournament in Reno, NV though. In Reno, our team was seeded 164 out of about 170 teams, so basically the bottom of the barrel. Since we weren’t participating in any leagues, the tournament coordinators didn’t know how where to place us so they put us at the bottom. I can’t exactly remember how most of the games played out or the rankings of those teams. (This is common, considering a team could play up to 12 matches in a weekend).

I do however remember one specific team from the second day of the tournament. They were from Colorado, ranked 6th in the entire tournament, and stood about a foot taller than me (Keep in mind, I’m only 5’2″ but still). We went into playing this match as we did with every other game: just excited to be there and ready to put it all out on the floor. Channeling this energy, we won the first game! But the match wasn’t over yet. We had to win 2 out of 3. So we played on. And they took the second game… This meant there was only one more game and 15 points standing between us and taking the number 6 rank. The game started and we were losing. That’s when my coach intervened with a time out with the greatest advice I have received,

“ARE YOU JUST GOING TO ROLL OVER AND DIE, OR ARE YOU GOING TO FIGHT FOR THIS?”

So maybe this wasn’t put in the most eloquent way, but it was practical and exactly what we needed to motivate us. (We won the game by the way). Out of all the advice I’ve been given, I have found this the most valuable because it can be applied to anything. Like not getting the grade I wanted. Or struggling to find an internship. Or getting frustrated with bureaucracy at school. It’s easy to feel powerless or down on your luck. But I believe that in most situations there is a choice: to roll over and die, or to fight. It all depends on how badly you want something and if you’re willing to continue to pursue it. The key is in the approach. Instead of defeat, frame it as a challenge. I can guarantee that most people will not do that. Taking that extra step, and fighting for something can make all the difference in getting to where you want to be.

Stephanie Lee | UCLA Career Center Peer Advisor

THE GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE LEARNED – Part 2

95475-12042514041853 Last year, with choosing a major being one of my primary headaches, I, unexpectedly, decided to take a computer science course. I heard coding consumes life. I knew projects are often finished through a week of trial and error. My friend’s joke that she woke up at 3 am suddenly with a solution to one homework problems finally occurring to her head indeed intimidated me. Still, with no programming background, I was determined to take up such a challenge.

Although I was overwhelmed by the endless concepts in this new world most of the time, I was totally amazed by how everything works magically. I could still remember the time when I started to get myself familiar with the software development environment on a computer and spent almost an hour in attempting to create my very first project by carefully following the instructions word by word (even though I knew nothing about their meanings) I jotted down even the simplest codes that my professor mentioned in lectures and could not wait to run them on a physical computer after class.

However, as time went by, I became increasingly frustrated. My frustrations not only came from staring at my computer for hours without coming up with even a single line of code or frequently debugging my programs till very late at night. I felt I fell behind most of my peer who were already programming experts or gifted prodigies. Some started at a pretty young age and were already fluent in various programming languages. Others were proud of their experience in working on complicated projects with large teams prestigious companies or even have several original mobile apps to their names. People always say that talent play a large role in this industry. Am I a real late starter? I constantly asked myself whenever I had a hard time understanding a chunk of code while others seem to finish doing it so effortlessly. I attended those engineering career fairs, timid and unsure of myself. Everyone there appeared ready to impress recruiters with their glittering projects or give a perfect 90-second pitch, while I was even too afraid to drop off my resume. Why would they ever consider me? I had only taken one very basic computer science course and had so few accomplishments that I could present to boost myself. Shouldn’t people pursue things that they are good at? Why would I keep stubbornly adventuring in this new world, knowing that I would never be as smart as those brilliant brains?

Sometime I loved to seek answers to questions like “is it too late to learn to code” online. I was so surprised that so many people who also discover their passion in programming feel the same way just as I did. They lacked confidence, doubted their abilities and so they asked the same questions. I was also surprised that so many excellent software developers actually received their formal CS training and get their feet wet in the industry in their late 20s or even 30s. Much later than I did. One day I encountered a quote that I will never forget, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”This is told by one of the software engineers that I admire, who received a Phd in architecture but only started her programming journey at 27. Yes, it is ideal if we can start a thing as early as possible. However, starting late will never be an obstacle, if we are truly passionate about that thing and really want to make a difference.

Inspired by those stories shared by others, I started to redefine the formula that determine a good programmer. It is not all about past experience or age. If you have crazy ideas, if you never allow a problem get the better of you, if you see the world differently, and with at least some knowledge about the basics of programming, there is no reason why you should not be able to become an authority in that area. If you are alive, you can always pursue what you are fascinated with. Maybe I was just too anxious for success. Why not doing it now? I found the seeds (of my true interest) by serendipity. Why not sowing it now? Why not just growing it with 100% drive and determination? So I calmed down, started with basic ideas and easy problems, sought every opportunity to practice, self studied how to develop iOS apps, explored popular interview questions…I also tried to catch up and thus took three major-required math courses last quarter at the same time. Initially, they all said, “That would be impossible… You won’t make it! You can’t have three finals from 8 am to 6 pm on a same day.” However, I ended up with good grades and realized that, nothing stops you when you seriously begin to work hard. This quarter, I suddenly feel the subject is no longer that hard for me! After enough practice, tricky concepts gradually make sense and they all intertwine with each other in such a wonderful way. Also, I was thrilled by and rewarded with so many “Aha” moments that truly demonstrate my progress. So I copied this inspiring quote, neatly, on my notebook; thus, I can see the sentence whenever I open it in my later computer science courses. My tree is now growing, at a amazingly aspiring speed.

Kexin Yu | UCLA Career Center Peer Advisor B.S. Mathematics of Computation (2017)

The Greatest Piece of Advice I have Learned – Part 1

I’ve spent a good chunk of my 19 years giving advice to others. As an older sister, a junior consultant, and now as a Peer Advisor. But as much as I love sharing my own insights (especially to my roommate’s dilemmas: Black pants or grey? Boots or sneakers? Is my eyeliner even?), it’s definitely refreshing to have someone else guide me instead.
Now, to the theme of this post: I want to share with you guys the best piece of advice I’ve received–it’s actually a quote from a Bruin Consulting alum. I joined BC this past Fall, and I never could have anticipated how quickly it has changed my life. I was exposed to the world of business and Biz Econ majors, “163” and “103,” upperclassmen with completely different career interests than me. During a “BC NorCal dinner” over Christmas break, I met one alum named Venkat. He asked me about school, as usual, and I asked him what he did at his current job in San Francisco. He worked in healthcare, which is the field I hope to pursue. Not only did he explain his directorship at The Advisory Board Company, he also touched upon current issues and inefficiencies in healthcare. Plus, he also had a hilarious, goofy personality, which made listening to him speak about health insurance a lot easier to understand.
Now, this is the advice I took from him: I asked Venkat what I should be doing my 2nd year, so that I could be on the “right track” for a career in health administration. Over Americanos and omelettes South of Market Street, he shared his ultimate life hack with me. Venkat suggested that I start networking and gaining experience as soon as possible. He pointed out, “Good things come to those who wait….but only the things left by those who hustle.” No matter what you are interested in pursuing, just pursue it. Don’t wait for opportunities to fall in your lap, or for someone to just hand you a job. They won’t. Work hard, work relentlessly, work smartly. Don’t rely on finding internships the easy way, because that’s how 99% of other people are doing it too. In all, it’s never too early (or too late!) to gain relevant experience in your desired field.
How am I applying this advice in my own life back at UCLA? Well, to be honest, it has been a work in progress. Some days I just want to relax with my friends, and other days I spend on Linkedin or working on cover letters. But, I do keep his quote in my mind every day. Every day, I try to be productive in some way. In my academics, in my social relationships, in my work, or in my career. Being at UCLA is such a precious experience. We are in an environment with such innovative people, distinguished professors and faculty, and numerous opportunities. Take advantage of that, Bruins. Don’t wait for life to happen to you, make your life happen now.
Jesselyn Wang | UCLA Career Center Peer Advisor

How I Met My Major

Major

During Winter break after my first quarter at UCLA, I made a decision that would later change the course of my entire academic, personal, and professional career.

When I got accepted to UCLA as an undeclared student, my brother helped me browse the list of majors to find one that would most fit my interests. At the time, I was intrigued by the major descriptions for English, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, and Sociology. However, I was open to learning about other majors as well.

In my first quarter of UCLA – Fall 2011 – (I’m beginning to feel ancient), I took an introductory Sociology and Introductory Statistics course, in hopes of declaring the Sociology major. During Winter break, however, I continued to search for majors and found myself pondering around on the UCLA Psychology Department website. I began to compare Sociology with Psychology. Although the two disciplines overlap and go hand in hand, there are some distinctions between the two, which ultimately led to my decision to declare the Psychology major. The primary difference is that Psychology encompasses the study of the mind of an individual or a small group, whereas Sociology revolves around the study of societies and cultures. Both, however, can be equated to the study of people.

I had an idea of what the field of Psychology was about, as I had taken AP Psychology in 10th grade, but something kept me from officially deciding to declare the pre-major. To be completely honest, I was afraid of taking the science, research, and statistics pre-requisite courses. That night, though, I was feeling ambitious, excited, and confident. I felt capable, and at that moment, nothing could have stopped me from my decision. I spoke to my parents and my brother, and they supported me in any direction I wanted to go.

So, for the following quarter, I enrolled in Life Science and Physics. What was I thinking, right?

I must admit though — these courses were, in fact, challenging. But I had no choice but to go through with them in order to get to the final destination of studying something I was truly interested in – Psychology.

Let’s go back a few steps now. You might be thinking, well, her experience with choosing a major is pretty lame. Why is she even writing this blog?

Here’s why: Regardless of how I chose my major, it was only after I began to take my Psychology courses that I truly met my major. Psychology is one of the most versatile majors. That is, psychological theories and concepts can be applied to every and any situation. In order to make that statement more concrete, I’ve listed some examples of how my courses have helped me in my own life. It’s a good thing I treated each lecture as a therapy session.

I recently took Cognitive Psychology, which turned out to be my favorite course at UCLA. The professor dedicated two whole lectures to discuss the ways in which memory works in the human brain (he is a memory researcher, so that did not surprise me). Without going into the nitty-gritty details of the mechanisms of memory, one of the big picture take-home messages was that sleep affects memory drastically. Knowing this, I decided to make sleep a priority and made sure that I got approximately 8 hours every night. Within weeks, maybe even days, I noticed changes. I would say, without a doubt, that this change was one of the major reasons why my grades improved. Suddenly, I remembered everything for my exams…

Let’s move on to Health Psychology now. From this area of Psychology, I was exposed to research that explained some of the effective strategies that individuals can use to accomplish their health goals. For instance, rather than saying that my New Year’s Resolution is to “lose weight and exercise,” I  began to say something like, “I will only eat desserts on Fridays and Sundays.” In that way, I made my goal concrete, specific, and thus, more achievable. Trust me, this minor change helped me drastically.

What about Mind-Body Interactions? This was yet another interesting and helpful course. One of the major lessons I learned from this class was the power of the mind. There was a lecture in which the professor discussed methods of meditation, as well as its benefits. To understand how this helped me, here is a Facebook status update I had while taking the course:

“After a very long night of constant pain from having the flu, I was unable to get much sleep. At around 6 am, after various methods of reducing the pain, I remembered that I had learned about pain meditation from one of my psych classes. I searched on YouTube for pain meditation videos, listened to them, and voila, I was able to finally fall asleep through the pain. Oh, the power of the mind over the body…” (March 12, 2014)

There was also that Social Cognitive Neuroscience class that taught me how our brains are wired to be social and to connect with others. With this knowledge, I have been able to establish and maintain healthy relationships with my family and friends.

And finally, here is an optical illusion that I learned about in Sensation & Perception. This still amazes me until today – 2 years after taking the class.

lacuna-illusion

These are some of the MANY ways in which my major has helped me and allowed me to help those around me.

All of these courses ultimately led to my career interests in helping individuals, whether it be students, children, or more generally, individuals who are having any difficulties in their lives. The same way Psychology helped me, I believe it can help everyone and anyone. There is always room for improvement. There is always room to grow.

And that kids, is how I met my major.

Cynthia Kossan | UCLA Career Center Peer Advisor

B.A. Psychology | Minor: Anthropology (2015)

Preparing for Fall Recruiting

Nothing about “Fall Recruiting” sounds particularly pleasing. Unfortunately, many students are discouraged when they find out that fall is a time when employers begin to recruit college students for their internships and entry-level jobs. But, rather than looking at the downside, you can start preparing for your next job/internship search, as well as your career development in general.

The UCLA Career Center can provide assistance with essentially every aspect of the career development process, beginning with choosing a major, all the way to finding a dream job. In regards to Fall recruiting, the Career Center can provide career counseling, resume critiques, job/internship assistance, interview help, and any other question related to obtaining your next internship or job.

The following steps can give you a more comprehensive review of what you should be looking out for when it comes to finding your next internship or job; in addition, each section will provide a list of some books that our very own UCLA Career Center librarian has compiled for us from the Career Center library. Please visit the UCLA Career Center in order to access the library and check out some of these books!

  1. ON-CAMPUS RECRUITMENT (OCR) – this program is convenient for UCLA students because it provides you with the opportunity to interview with employers on campus at the UCLA Career center, rather than at company locations. Not all jobs/internships on Bruinview are “OCR.” However, in order to apply for those that are “OCR,” you must attend one mandatory OCR orientation. For more information regarding OCR dates/times, please visit: http://www.career.ucla.edu/OCR/About-OCR.
    • 10 things employers want you to learn in college, 2nd by Bill Coplin
    • College Grad Job Hunter, 6th by Brian D. Krueger [Chapter 12 &18]
    • How to Get Any Job, 2nd by Donald Asher [pp. 191-193]
  1. CAREER FAIRS, NETWORKING – make sure to check our events and fairs being held throughout the year. Please visit http://www.career.ucla.edu/Students/Job-Search-Strategies/Fairs-and-Targeted-Events for a timeline of events as well as a list of companies that will be visiting during fairs.
  1. RESUME CRITIQUES/INTERVIEW STRATEGIES – the Career Center provides various opportunities to polish both your resume and interviewing skills. You can either make an appointment with a Career Counselor or drop in to see a Peer Advisor. For more information about counseling appointments, please visit: http://www.career.ucla.edu/Career-Counseling/Career-Counseling
    • Refer to Career Guide (chapters 5 and 7)
    • Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? By Ellen Gordon Reeves
    • I Can’t Believe They Asked Me That! By Ronald L. Krannich & Caryl Rae Krannich
  1. RESEARCHING INDUSTRIES, COMPANIES, & POSITIONS – before going in for an interview, you want to make certain that you have researched both the industry, company, as well as the position.
    • Encyclopedia of American Industries, 6th by Grey House Publishing
    • Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries, 6th by Grey House Publishing
    • The 100 Best Companies to Work For, by Fortune (annual issue)
    • The 100 Fastest-Growing Companies, by Fortune (annual issue)
  1. THE QUESTIONS & THE ANSWERS – for more thorough readings related to possible interview questions, please refer to the following list (you can also have a mock interview with a Career Counselor and/or Peer Advisor)
    • 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions, 6th ed. by Ron Fry
    • Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions, 2nd by Matthew J. DeLuca & Nannette F. DeLuca
  1. QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO ASK THEM – another important aspect of interviewing is coming up with questions to ask the employer upon completion of the interview:
    • 101 Smart Questions to Ask on Your Interview, 3rd ed. by Ron Fry
    • Killer Interviews by Frederick Ball & Barbara Hall
  1. FOLLOW-UP – after completing the interview, you want to make sure that you follow up with the interviewer/recruiter in order to thank them for their time and consideration.
    • The Everything Job Interview Book 2nd by Joy Darlington & Nancy Schuman (Chapter 6, pp. 57-67)
  1. PROFESSIONAL ATTIRE & DEMEANOR
    • Knock ‘em Dead by Martin Yate (Chapter 8, “Body Language”)
    • Style Bible: What to Wear to Work by Lauren A. Rothman

List composed by Don Spring, UCLA Career Center Librarian. 

Remember, the UCLA Career Center is open M-F from 9am-5pm. We’re always willing to help! Stop by to receive a Career Guide and a quick tour from our Peer Advisors! Visit career.ucla.edu for more information and search for us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!