Kathryn A. Kelner
Conversation Leader with UCSD Extension
Fourth Year | Eleanor Roosevelt College | International Studies w/ Political Science
My job has taught me to be more confident and outgoing. When I first started college, I was very shy and timid. I used to have trouble speaking in front of a class, and dreaded the thought of being in the spotlight. Now with my job as a Conversation Leader, I am used to public speaking, as well as displaying strong leadership skills. I have also learned to be more open minded and look to why I am resistant to a viewpoint different from my own instead of being judgmental.
Q: What do you do and what makes your job unique? A: I help teach in low to high English proficiency classes to foreign exchange students. My job is unique because every day is different; with each lesson I encounter new situations to overcome obstacles with language barriers and lead discussions that revolve around culture, traditions, and differences of opinion in a manner that respects and appreciates other’s points of view.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job? A: I love seeing how perspectives are shaped by personal experiences. Working with students from around the world allows me the ability to interact with people of all backgrounds and gain insight into customs I had no previous knowledge of.
Q: Is this job in line with your long-term career goals? A: While in college, I wanted the opportunity to travel abroad. Unfortunately, I was injured while working as an ocean lifeguard for the City of San Diego. During my recovery, I dealt with several medical issues where I was not able to study abroad. When I learned of the Conversation Leader job, I was happy because I had discovered a way around my physical limitations where I could still interact with students from different places to gain a broader multi-cultural experience.
Q: How did you find out about your current job? A: I found out about my current job at my old job as an ocean lifeguard while working at La Jolla Cove. A teacher in the program had begun talking to me before her swim, and our love for learning about other cultures quickly came up. She mentioned the program and I was immediately interested. Since I was an international studies with emphasis in political science major, I already had experience learning new languages, which helped me to be more compassionate when I would encounter students who felt frustrated learning a new language.
Q: What challenges have you faced? A: During my time at UC San Diego, I have struggled financially. It has been frustrating to work full time and attend school while rehabbing an injury. In addition, the inability to work at my old job where I made more money and\ instead work a job where I make much less, has been discouraging. One thing I try to keep in mind is to stay positive; I am in college for a reason. Rather than simply save people physically like I had before, I am creating an opportunity to help people on a bigger scale in the future. By following a career path I feel passionately about, I feel confident finances will get easier in the future. Then I will have the chance to have a job I love, and support myself. The end result is a double win.
Final advice? Keep trying. There is a proverb I heard that goes, “Fall seven times, get up eight”. If that saying can be applied to life, then I am confident you will achieve what you are striving for. For my job it is essential to be kind and compassionate. Personal character is such a huge component in any job, which I feel people forget when they are
preoccupied with having the best resume or work experience. Convey your passion for the position when applying, and trust that your best qualities will be recognized if you do so.
Do you have an awesome on-campus job? Do you love what you do and want to share your experiences with other students? If so, contact us and you may be spotlighted in future newsletters!