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)

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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! 

Advice To My First Year Self

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Happy Fall Quarter Bruins! Here’s to the next couple weeks of studying, midterms, and of course, some good ol’ UCLA football.

Today’s post is courtesy of me, Jesselyn. I’m one of the new Peer Advisors for 2014-2015, and I’m excited to share with you all some of my own reflections after my first year. A quick blurb about myself: I’m currently a 2nd year Psychobiology student interested in working in the healthcare industry. Which sector exactly? Consulting, optometry, public health… I’m not sure yet, to be honest. Like many other 2nd years, I’ve just embarked on my own career exploration journey, in the hopes of finding a profession that best fits my interests and abilities.

But, one year ago, I was a lost, confused, overwhelmed freshman who didn’t have a clue how to navigate the ins and outs of UCLA. So, to all the first years (and second years?–maybe even third years?) out there, you are not alone. These are the tips for success I’ve learned this past year–the tips I wish someone could have told me sooner:

1). Don’t overload yourself

Even before my first quarter at UCLA started, I already felt like I was falling behind. After all, I had heard countless stories of seniors not graduating on time or being able to finish their GEs. So I thought, “Okay, I’ve gotta pack on all my prerequisite classes NOW – no slacking.” But the thing is…I knew I would not be comfortable taking 2 science and math classes my first quarter. I was living independently in a new city, trying to make new friends, and dealing with roommate issues–all while craving the comfort and ease of life back home in San Jose. The competitive premed classes I was taking only added onto my pile of stress. So there I was, stressing out about being stressed out.  It wasn’t until 9th week that I vowed to never feel pressured to follow the crowd again.

This is what I wish I could have told myself: “Hey. It’s just your first quarter. I know it seems like everyone at UCLA is already making scientific breakthroughs, but they’re really not. Everyone thrives at a different pace. Ease into your first year, have fun, and don’t worry just yet!”

2). Being busy is good

I know this sounds like conflicting advice, but trust me. You want to be busy, but not too busy that you overload yourself. Time in college is so valuable. You only have 24 hours each day, and ideally, you’d like to spend 6-8 hours of it asleep. Therefore, you don’t want to waste your waking hours just lounging around. And, as tempting as binge watching Netflix sounds, you’ll feel more accomplished with your day if you keep yourself productive. Attend career fairs and information sessions? Join a preprofessional organization? Explore career options at the Career Center library? Whatever you end up doing, be efficient and keep your mind and body active.

3). Keep your eyes and mind open

Opportunities, especially at UCLA, are always a blessing! Sometimes you may not find exactly what you’re looking for, but as a first year, any work experience is great experience.

During my second quarter, I applied and interviewed to join a professional pre-health organization and was denied. Although I was disappointed, I knew I had to keep trying. I continued to look for other opportunities in any field, whatever was open. I soon started working at an on-campus coffee bar. It seemed insignificant at first, but that experience working as a barista was relevant and invaluable. Taking orders, creating espresso based drinks, and serving pastries taught me a lot about teamwork, thinking on my feet, and customer service–all skills essential for health careers and crucial in helping me land my Junior Consultant position at Bruin Consulting.

4). Do what YOU want

The best thing about your first year is having the time AND flexibility to explore any interests you may have, whether it’s academic or just for fun. (Archery? Psychology? Film? Sports medicine?) It’s very easy to feel “stuck” in a major/career path. The Career Center library–the second largest in the U.S.–offers an entire section devoted to Career Exploration. You can learn more about potential jobs in any industry from fashion design and culinary arts to finance and medicine.

5). If you haven’t failed, you haven’t pushed yourself enough

As cheesy as it sounds, it’s okay to make mistakes. After all, I came up with this advice because I made the mistake of doing exactly the opposite. You learn quickly when you make mistakes. You gain firsthand knowledge and experience, and (see #3) experience as a 1st year is always great addition to your toolbox. One of my fears as a first year was rejection. I didn’t want to fail because I believed that failure mean that I was inadequate–but that is not the case at all.

Failure means that you were confident in yourself and believed in your unique skills. You set high expectations for yourself and desired excellence. Even though you did not obtain the result you wanted, you were mentally prepared to challenge yourself. You have the fiery drive to succeed. So whatever it is that you seek, push yourself and apply for that committee board position, that internship, or that research position! You just might be surprised with yourself.

Lastly, the Career Center even offers a suggested “4-year plan” outlining the key steps and decisions you should be considering throughout your undergraduate years. It is so helpful for those who want to stay on track for graduation, professional school, or graduate school. Come to the Career Center on Strathmore today to pick up this free, detailed flyer!

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!

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!

5 Tips to Better Market yourself on LinkedIn and Create and Online Presence!!!

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I’m sure most if not all of you have heard of LinkedIn. If you haven’t, where have you been hiding on this social media platform? Some of you may be wondering what distinguishes LinkedIn from all the rest of the social media that you use. Others may wonder if it is like Facebook, just for older people and professionals. Well, to answer your questions and concerns, LinkedIn is not the Facebook for old people, it is so much more. LinkedIn is your gateway to a world of possibility, it’s your network! Anyone who has a professional career or hopes to have one someday needs a LinkedIn, consider it a marketing portfolio, but for yourself. It is a portfolio highlighting you at your best, containing your best photo, your accomplishments, best projects and significant experiences. You may be wondering how you can turn yourself, or your LinkedIn into a marketing tool. Here are 5 simple tips to help you start your LinkedIn and market yourself to grow your network.

  1. Upload a nice, professional looking picture of yourself. The qualities of a good picture are: you dressed in professional attire, it can be a picture that shows you from your shoulders up if you prefer. You should have a warm smile, exude confidence and in a neutral background with a neutral color shirt. Avoid crazy patterns or backgrounds. It doesn’t matter if the picture is taken outside or inside, however the lighting should be good. You should not re-use a Facebook picture!

 

  1. Fill in your about me section. This section should be fun, genuine and professional. How do you balance fun and professional, you ask? Well, one way to do that is to include hobbies and passions that are unique to you, include qualities about yourself that highlight your skills, aptitudes and character. Your personality should shine through because you are more than a resume and a cover letter, you have interests, passions, personality traits that make you unique from the rest. You can include where you grew up, where you went to college and any dreams you hope to achieve that align with your professional goals.

 

  1. Join groups that interest you or that are affiliated with professional organizations that you are a part of. The great thing about joining a group is that it is an easy way to grow and expand your network because people  who may have been considered third connections (otherwise known as people you could not request to connect with you without first being introduced), are now your second degree connections. You can start discussions and add questions, all the while increasing your online presence and getting yourself noticed. You never know when a discussion can lead to a potential job offer or re-connection.

 

  1. Under your education section make sure to list any activities and organizations you were a part of. Any accomplishments that you had while in college or recognitions. You can also list projects or coursework that relates to your particular career field. It is a great way to make you stand out from others who don’t have those items listed on their LinkedIn.

 

  1. Have someone recommend you on LinkedIn. You can have colleagues, employers, supervisors, professors or anyone who knows your skills and qualities write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn. What better way to market yourself than having someone else talk about how great you are. Be polite when you ask and make sure to thank them for the time they spent writing a shining recommendation.

 

I hope these tips are helpful, come to the Career Center to find out about more ways to market yourself online. Keep updated with our workshops, sign up for a Career Counseling session or talk to one of our peer advisors next time you stop in. Have a great week and don’t forget to follow the UCLA Career Center’s LinkedIn page!