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I’m a career coach and my intention is to help students by guiding them in their career decision making. I see a lot of undergraduates who don’t feel prepared for job seeking or who are undecided. A lot of the time when students begin college they may know what they want, yet this can change after their first, second, third or potentially even their fourth year. So as a career coach my job is to intentionally guide students through their career journey.
Q: What resources do you suggest for undecided students? A: For students who are undecided, I suggest My Personal Career Action Plan and The Triton Career and Professional Guide. Both allow students to think about their career goals, their education plans, their graduate school plans, and their experiences. These self-reflective activities were developed so that students could actually write out and plan their goals. Having a plan, writing it out, and sharing it helps students achieve their goals, and in the end makes them more successful. I also suggest that students who are undecided take the Strengths Quest or the MBTI. These assessments can help give you majors which match your skills, values, and interests, while the guide allows you to self-reflect on your aspirations, career goals, and how you foresee your future. Another piece of advice I
give to students is to conduct an informational interview with someone that is in their current field of interest. Let’s say you potentially want to become a teacher but you don’t know anything about education or the industry. By interviewing someone within this field you get a better idea of the kind of industry you want to go into before you decide on a specific major or career. Here at UCSD we have access to all of our alumni, through the Alumni Advisor Network, so students should really take advantage of this.
Q: What advice do you have for students exploring careers? A: Say you are this specific major but maybe you want to open your own business. Well your major allows you to get knowledge of a field that interests you and what you decide to do with that afterwards is your choice. We have a lot of people, like Nick Woodman who founded GoPro, who come out of UCSD with their major and then create their own business. Another example is Michael Antonorsi. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and now has his own chocolate company called Chuao Chocolatier. A lot of entrepreneurs come out of here with all different majors, so although I think choosing a major is important, what really is important is that you take that major and develop it and create your own career with it.
Q: You have touched on the topic of networking a bit. Do you have any other advice for students about networking? A: I’m all about relationship building and I think that’s one of the most important things students have to learn. When I was in college, I was a part of a Filipino club on-campus which brought me back to my roots and I was able to network with people who had a commonality with me and my culture. This network still resides with me today even though I was a part of this club over 15 years ago. Being a part of student orgs helps build community, promotes leadership, and creates lasting relationships and networks. The people you are going to college with now are going to be your friends in the future and they are going to help you with your success. As well students should reach out to their instructors during office hours as instructors will help you with your success. This way, you can build a relationship and get connected with them on LinkedIn. The majority of professors are willing to help, and I think that’s why we are all in the business of helping students. Another piece of advice I have is to do the Dine with a Professor Program. Do it! Do it as many times as you can. Also, find mentor. I have two mentors on this campus and they have been very helpful in my growth. Mentors are people you can count on, who you can talk to about your struggles and challenges and also your happy moments in life, like your accomplishments.
Q: What do you feel like makes a student stand out? A: In my opinion, what makes a student stand out is when a student is not afraid to publicly speak and do their 30 second commercial. A student who stands out is willing to take risks and approach people. Here’s an example, I’m working with a masters CSE student and he is a nanoengineer. He wants a job but he wants one in consulting, not nanoengineering. So I asked him what would make him different if he wanted to go into consulting and he wanted to stand out. He tells me he just needs to approach people. So then I ask him how he is planning to do that. He thought about it and decided he’s going to take the approach of going to Rady School of Management and passing out his resume to everyone. He’s going to stand out because no other student will do that. So in order to stand out, you have to do things that are not traditional and really put yourself out there. You can use social media to stand out and market yourself professionally. For example, you can create your own website and send everyone the link, or get a business card made that’s linked to your LinkedIn account. There are endless possibilities for you to do something that hasn’t been done before.