We asked UC San Diego Alumni to recommend the best ways that you can use any extra time during the summer to help advance your career goals. Alumni just get it. They've been in your shoes and bring valuable knowledge of the current career environment.
Here are the top answers to help you strategize your next steps for your summer:
- How did you network to land your first job out of college or your first-ever internship?
“As a first-generation college graduate, I had to create my own network over my four years at UC San Diego. I attended career panels and workshops, organized by my sorority, to sharpen my resume and gain insights into life after graduation. I also reached out to professors in my department for advice and direction on different ways to utilize my degree if I wasn’t interested in attending a Ph.D. program. Ultimately, this is how I first found my career path and acquired the skills to get my first job offer.”
–Chelsea Ballinger, B.S. physics ’14, Lead Engineer, Booz Allen Hamilton
- For students and graduating seniors who have landed a job or internship this summer, what is your most helpful tip for them to succeed in their new role?
“While talking to a group of young students, Michelle Obama said, ‘Don’t be a statistic, be yourself.’ Statistics are college, GPA, majors, etc. As for myself, I did not know how to be myself. At my first job, which lasted 10 years, I did not speak up, did not want to stir the pot, did not share ideas, just finished what I was assigned. So in the eyes of the leaderships, I was a number—one that can do a good job and not exhibiting any leadership skills or aspiration. That is a behavior I don’t want you to follow. Be yourself. Be assertive, not aggressive. Be inclusive and not destructive. Share your thoughts. Share your ideas. Share your passion. Don’t be afraid to speak up. You might be wrong [sometimes], but at least you convey to others your ideas, your thoughts, your solutions.”
–Jonathan Lam ’82, Lead Associate/IT Architect Manager, Booz Allen Hamilton
- What are the top three things you think students can do for their professional development this summer?
“Attend virtual trainings and info sessions on Handshake, take a virtual public speaking class and have three informational interviews per month by reaching out to people on LinkedIn who have jobs you are interested in to find out what the job is like and how they got there.”
–Melissa Hoon, Associate Director, Industry Engagement, UC San Diego Career Center
“Reflecting on my experiences, I often felt confused because I did not know where to focus my efforts. External pressures drove me towards possible career paths; however, I knew I would not be wholly invested in them. Looking back, I completely understand the feeling of ‘going with the flow,’ so I recommend that students take the time to contemplate their interests and direction. A career is a part of your life, therefore put in the effort to cultivate it, so it becomes an echo of yourself.”
–Jeffrey Liu, B.S. human biology ’13, M.S. biology ’15, Associate Scientist I, Illumina
- What are the top three things students can do this summer to prepare to land a job or internship for Summer 2021?
"Do your research on the companies that you’re interested in. Look at their website!
Two, although you may not be currently in the market for a job or internship, look at open jobs/internships in your field or a company you’re interested in. If you find a job/internship that interests you, look at the requirements/experience they’re looking for and start working towards it.
Three, update your resume! If you don’t have one, make one."
– Jessica Nguyen, B.S. biochemistry and cell biology ’18, Talent Acquisition Coordinator, Tandem Diabetes Care
- When a student who you have not yet met or spoken with reaches out to you for an informational interview, how do you want to be approached?
“I get a lot of messages from students asking to connect, and when we do, that's often where the connection stops. Don't be afraid to initiate conversation. It doesn't hurt to be direct and say ‘Hi X, my name is Y and I'm currently a student at UC San Diego studying Z. I'm really interested in the work you do and would like to learn more. If you have time, would you be willing to answer a few questions from me?’ followed by 2-3 initial questions to open up the conversation. Although I wouldn't ask directly for a recommendation or for job interviews/openings, ask professional development questions that will help you with your career path. If they respond, that opens up an opportunity for you to ask more questions and engage in conversation. If they don't, send a follow-up. It shows that you actually want to have a conversation, and puts the person you're messaging in a position to respond.”
–Kylie Taitano, B.S. computer engineering ’14, Software Engineer, Intuit