Career fairs, emails from Handshake and other constant reminders about internships and employment are all around us. Everyone knows that finding an internship isn’t easy. However, many of us may have believed that going to UCLA, the highest ranked public university, would give us an edge. If you feel you are swimming in applications with no luck, you aren’t alone. If you have an internship or job, but it took a long time to find it, you also aren’t alone. Bruins from different years and backgrounds give their thoughts on finding career opportunities.
College is the time to build your resume before going out into the world, yet starting that process can be daunting or frustrating. First year Sophia Jain states that the hardest part about looking for career opportunities is “finding something that will take a first year with no experience […] I’ve only found bigger opportunities that are harder to get and have had no success with those.” Last year, I found myself in a similar position. My search was unsuccessful, and the struggle only became harder when the pandemic hit. A year into COVID-19, there are still limited remote opportunities, and the ones out there are extremely competitive. If you’re just starting out and building your resume, do not feel behind because there are plenty of fellow Bruins in the same boat as you!
The time-consuming and sometimes draining search does not stop after your first year of college or even after you have some experience under your belt. Natalie LaRowe, a third year, has put in a lot of dedication to finding a job: “I typically spend a few hours on LinkedIn or Handshake every week searching for internships that I might be qualified for and making a list of deadlines and cover letters I’ll need to write. I put a lot of time into applying and never hear anything back. I’ve gone to a few career fairs in hopes of getting a foot in the door, but most internship applications were due in the fall so there are limited opportunities now, even at career fairs.” Out of this process, the hardest part for her has been “constantly applying and writing cover letters and never hearing back or getting an interview.” LaRowe’s testimony shows that hiring season has its peaks and its lows, but all we can do is keep applying and keeping hope alive.
Compounding variables, such as being an international student, can further complicate looking for internships or employment. Cecelia Cho, a fourth year international student from South Korea writes, “As an international student, it’s definitely rare to find companies that are willing to sponsor your visa and honestly just figuring out the whole visa deal in general is very complicated.” Her experience as an international student is not rare. “Because it’s so complicated, I know a lot of people just decide to give up finding work in America and end up going back to their home countries.” UCLA is such a diverse school, and there are so many different circumstances that bring their own boundaries and barriers. Remember to be kind to one another because we all have different conditions to consider.
While some Bruins are still searching for internships and jobs, others have found success with different positions. However, this success did not come without its hardships. These Bruins, while they have gotten through the application process, still reflect on how difficult it can be and provide some useful insight.
Leyla Messian, a fourth year, has a resume that includes both a marketing and social media internship at Foodstirs, a junk free bakery, and a marketing internship at Hashtag Sports. When explaining her journey, she emphasizes the importance of creating real human connections: “I’ve spent more time on finding ways to get in touch with a real human rather than applying blindly to hundreds of positions. Creating and maintaining relationships has been key, as well as understanding that the effects and outcomes come with time and are not immediate. Once you come to peace with this, things will fall into place, but you also need to be proactive and put in the work.” Messian voiced a frustration similar to LaRowe regarding the application process, noting that “not getting feedback upon asking for it post-interview has been super frustrating.” However, her testimony shows that we can’t get discouraged by rejection or unanswered emails; it’s part of the process that will eventually land us in the place that we need to be.
The human contact and connection that Messian describes can be hard to foster, especially during this time of virtual learning and social distancing. Second year Keila Kimura says that the hardest part about finding an internship was “limited opportunities due to closures as well as less networking from virtual learning.” She now has an internship scribing at a local clinic, but she claimed, “I don’t have previous work experience, and it was difficult to search for research or internship opportunities I would be eligible for through school. It is also difficult because I live in another state and that has limitations as well.” Kimura’s story shows that it is possible to overcome the “no experience” boundary, and sometimes we have to look for opportunities outside what is directly provided to us.
Holly Chen, a fourth year currently interning at a small production company, can also give insight to finding the right opportunities outside of UCLA. She explained, “Many of the job listings are not on traditional free job websites. Many of them are locked behind payments or someone you’re connected with must provide you with the information for the job listing. There is still no guarantee of securing an interview even if you know someone.” As she tries to further advance her career, she says, “getting the attention of the bigger companies to interview or solidify employment after the initial interview” is the hardest part about finding future opportunities.
Nonetheless, we should still consider the resources UCLA has to offer. While our university’s name does not guarantee us jobs or interns, many programs and schools try to give us the tools for success. Neeraj Samtani, a third year has an internship lined up with Amazon as a software developer. When describing his experience, he credited our university’s resources. “The school of engineering at UCLA helps us a lot while searching for internships or jobs. There are several mailing lists that notify students of available jobs and opportunities, and they organize many career fairs.” As a Communication major, my department also spams my inbox with opportunities each day, and it can be rewarding to sit down and open the emails rather than trashing them without looking at them.
Personally, I have my first internship at a cable company starting in the early summer. Like my fellow Bruins in this article, I also struggled with having “no experience” and applying to multiple positions with no response. But, the right timing will come to us. We have to keep faith in ourselves, and that is something we have to remember even after getting hired. As I start to prepare for my internship, I now face the problem of imposter syndrome and fear if I’m qualified enough for the job I am about to start. Now, I have to follow my own advice and remember that everything happens for a reason. The moral of the story is internships and jobs come with challenges at each phase of the process.
The purpose of this is not to discourage you as you look for career opportunities, but rather allow you to seek comfort in the fact that most of us are in similar positions. We all face anxiety about finding the right job or even getting accepted to one. We all get nervous doing interviews and perfecting our cover letters. We all are uncertain on what is to come. While we face similar feelings, no journey is alike, so don’t compare yourself to others. If you take away only one thing from this article, let it be that you should be kind to both yourself and others. Have patience, be persistent, and remember, progress over perfection.
Thank you Jenny Han and all the cast and crew of the To All The Boys Series. You’ve given me many girls’ night in, mini movie marathons, and happy thoughts. I know I’ll always come back to your work with a smile on my face. Now, let me look at my Bumble I opened up in Phase Three.