Brittany Oka

Warren College Academic Counselor | boka@ucsd.edu

Graduating Class of 2014 | Human Development and Sociology

I am currently working at UCSD Warren College as an Academic Counselor. My career path has been centered around education and within various areas in Student Affairs. Coming to UCSD I actually entered as undeclared, unaware of my own passions and what I would do in my near future. I believe that my career path was shaped by many of my undergraduate work experiences and mentors that I was able to find along the way. I see myself within education, and specifically in a position that gives me an opportunity to work with high school or undergraduate students directly. I see my career evolving and I will continue to seek positions that will allow me to not only develop as a professional but that will also allow me to empower the lives of students. I hope to pursue a Master’s Degree in Education in the near future, within a program that focuses on counseling and guidance.

Q: Did you work as an undergrad? A: As an undergrad I had various on and off campus positions that gave me the leadership skills and confidence to pursue my career goals and aspirations. During my time at UCSD, I was able to work for OASIS as a Contact Assistant, OLC Mentor, and Academic Transition Counselor, Warren College Student Affairs as an Orientation Leader, California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) as a College Peer Advisor, Parent & Family Programs as a Triton Parent Leader and Team Lead, and for the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Office as a Program Assistant. Each department that I worked for was unique and I was able to gain various skills to propel me into the field of education. I gained valuable leadership skills and was able to network with a wide range of staff members and other undergraduate students. I was also able to utilize work study with several of these positions which allowed me to continue to work for many of these departments over an extended period of time.

Q: What did you do in the year immediately after graduation? A: I participated in the Commencement ceremony in June 2014. After the ceremony I studied abroad through a Global Seminar in Buenos Aires, Argentina where I finished two more courses to complete my requirements. Traveling and studying abroad was truly an unforgettable experience that gave me the opportunity to learn more about customs that were distinct from my own. After my time abroad, I was able to return to UCSD and work full time as a Program Representative for Parent & Family Programs. Although this position was full time, it was for a temporary term that would last about 6 months. I was fortunate enough to work for Parent & Family Programs as a student for about 2 years which connected me to mentors that would assist in my professional development after graduation. My former supervisor at the time knew I would be graduating and aligned this position for me upon my return from Argentina. As my job progressed my 6 month term was coming to an end and I knew I needed to apply to more jobs. Among the jobs, I applied for the full time position for Parent & Family Programs as their Program Coordinator. With much preparation and support to get me through the entire job application process, I was hired as the new Program Coordinator.

Q: How did the Career Services Center help you? A: The Career Services Center was a tremendous help to me when I was an undergrad. Being undeclared when I entered UCSD was a bit of a challenge since I did not have a clear direction as to where my future was headed. The Career Services Center was able to help me through this process and I did many career and personality tests that were available to me at the time. I was also able to meet with professional staff members that helped guide me in the right direction in terms of what I would major in and they encouraged me to reach out to various department advisors to further discuss my options. In addition, many of the positions that I held on campus were found through Port Triton. One position led to another and I was able to continue finding positions through this portal. I was also able attend various graduate school fairs hosted by the Career Services Center. Being a first generation college student, I never even imagined anything beyond completing my undergraduate education. The Career Services Center helped me to realize that I have the potential to seek even higher education and that I should never limit myself because of the support that I will have.

Q: What advice do you have for students? A: Advice that I would give to undergraduate students would be to find work and volunteer experience that is applicable to the field that you will enter after your journey with UCSD has come to an end. Whether you will be applying to jobs or to graduate or professional schools, having relevant experience will make such a difference. If you are having difficulty solidifying what exact career is right for you, my advice to you would be to have informational interviews with as many individuals as you can. After graduation, there are many options in terms of what job will be right for you and the most difficult aspect may be to narrow down what your options are and to choose a route that will best fit your own skill set. After I graduated, I began to reconnect with individuals that I had previously worked with and started to set up informational interviews with them to talk about their own career paths and how they got to the positions that they were in today. This gave me much insight into
what kind of career path I saw myself in. Having informational interviews with both individuals that you have met before and others that you have not will allow you to really focus on what questions to ask them and it will shape your own mind in terms of what career you can envision yourself in. Starting to have informational interviews while you are still at UCSD will be an invaluable experience that might even land you your first professional position. An- other piece of advice I would give would be to thank all of the individuals that have made an impact on your journey at UCSD. You should reflect on the mentors, friends, family members, professors, and/or supervisors that have motivated you or have helped you along the way. Reminding these individuals of how thankful you are to have met them through your time at UCSD will help keep the connections strong even after your graduate.

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 Issue of the Triton Worker. 

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