Nichola Retzius

Career Advisor | nretzius@ucsd.edu

Initially I wanted to go to law school and become a criminal lawyer. I really enjoyed campus involvement as a student which led me to change my focus to working in Higher Education. I started out in On Campus Housing as a Residence Life Director. I loved engaging in campus culture as well as connecting with students. My next move into Career Services was a result of passion meeting opportunity. I was hired as a Career Programming and Outreach Counselor at San Diego State University. In this experience, I was able to connect with the campus community and create campus career programming based on campus needs. As a Career Advisor at UC San Diego, I specialize in Arts and Humanities. I am looking forward to connecting with campus clubs, staff and faculty to create great career opportunities for Arts & Humanities students. As for my career plans, I have a passion for career coaching specifically Professional Etiquette. I would like to gain more experience with consulting in that area. But overall, I really enjoy career counseling and would like to do this for a little bit longer.

What advice do you have for students who are undeclared?

Explore, Explore, Explore! Exploration is a big part of career planning. I would advise students to brainstorm and make a list of their interests. Next, take advantage of campus resources that can turn those interests into action. This is a great opportunity to visit the Career Center, have lunch with a faculty or get involved in a campus organization. The great part is that there are no wrong answers. As an undeclared student, this is an opportunity to learn and to find out what you want to study. This is not necessarily the same as what you would like to do. In today’s economy, passion for your field can be just as strong as skills learned in that field. Today’s top professionals are continually learning. First they start with finding out what excites them and then they use their resources to build those skills to make their passions reality.

What advice do you have for students who have just started working?

Soak in as much as you can! As a young professional, you are beginning to refine to your skills even more. It’s important to be humble and to understand that you will have a learning curve coming into your company.  For me, I had to be honest with myself and admit that I had a lot to learn about my craft and the organization. My saving grace was that I focused on relationships over personal success. I built my network with genuine connections who were great contacts and mentors. I learned a lot and still do from the people around me.

How can students show experience if they don’t have direct experience?

Depending on your field, it may be hard to get direct experience until you graduate. This is where your class projects and campus involvements shine through. Students on average can spend over 40 hours at school. In essence, it’s like working a full time job. This being said, it becomes important to track your accomplishments. Students can add class projects and campus involvements to their resume, CV or portfolios. In addition, transferable skills in a part-time job are very important. Employers look at soft skills (customer service, communication, teamwork) as much as they do the technical skills. Students should not underestimate their experiences just because it isn’t direct experience. It all matters.

What do you feel is the most valuable resource through the Career Center?

The Center prepares students from first year to graduation. We help students with career exploration, networking, internships, job search, grad school, alumni mentoring. There is so much we offer. We live in such a technology world that people interaction is not always popular. The staff at the Career Center are very helpful in preparing our students for their future careers. Students can get help from our Career Peer Educators during walk-in hours or set up an appointment with a Career Advisor. In addition, student can get connected to employers and alumni. We offer invaluable face to face interactions with students.

What advice do you have for students who may know their major but not sure about their career path yet?

You have 50% down, your career path should be guided by passion. Be an all-star in your study. The next 50% should be about exploring and networking. Career paths are not always linear. But you must put in the time and effort to prepare yourself. For example, get connected to the Career Center. This is a great way to prepare yourself.

What do you wish you had known as an undergrad?

I wish I had known that I could be interdisciplinary. I always saw myself in the Humanities but I could have easily gotten involved in STEM. These worlds complement each other. I would have liked to minor in Computer Science or even Data Science. I think those are really interesting fields.

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