Students in the UCLA Career Center hosted new events to inform their peers about internship and job opportunities.
The UCLA Career Peers program, which launched last year, works under the Career Center to inform students about internship and job opportunities. The program is a combination of two pre-existing student groups: the Peer Advisors, which provided students with career counseling, and the Hire UCLA Ambassadors, which focused on outreach to recruiters.
The new Career Peers expanded the Career Center’s programming while maintaining its other services. The Career Peer staff will increase from 16 to 20 students this year as part of continued growth, said Alexis Rampaul, the experiential learning engagement manager at the Career Center.
The Career Peers provide one-on-one assistance with students’ resumes and cover letters and hold drop-in hours at the Career Center on a first-come, first-served basis, but have also expanded programming to connect with more students.
Rampaul said one of the most successful new events is the internship meetup. The Career Peers work in small teams to bring in panelists, who are students or alumni who graduated one to three years ago, to share their experiences in specific career fields.
“I find a lot of programs have panelists with people far out in their career,” Rampaul said. “We expect student attendees to more easily relate to someone who is a current student or recent grad.”
Tobias Henneke, a current Career Peer and fourth-year business economics student, said organizing an internship meetup for careers in sports and athletics has been his favorite event as a Career Peer so far. Roughly 50 people attended the event.
“We had students coming in that have interned for the LA Angels, Dodgers, Kings, Galaxy,” Henneke said. “Our job was planning and moderating the whole thing, acquiring guest speakers and promoting the event. We spent three months working on it, and to have it be such a success? Definitely my favorite part so far.”
Rampaul added that six additional internship meetups will be held during the 2018-2019 academic year.
She also added the Career Peers host internship drive-thrus to attract students who may not go to the Career Center’s physical location in South Campus on their own.
“It’s basically us taking the Career Center out onto campus, most often on Bruin Walk,” Rampaul said. “Some students don’t know where the Career Center is, and if they’ve never been there before drive-thru, it is a great chance for a good first impression.”
Roya Dadgar, a current Career Peer and third-year business economics student, said the Career Peers are responsible for student outreach, which can be challenging.
“A lot of times the Career Center really relies on us pretty (heavily) to reach out to students. That does kind of put pressure on us to find more ways to reach out to students,” Dadgar said. “But at the same time, it gives us a lot of opportunities for creativity.”
Rampaul added that the Career Peers have doubled their social media following on Facebook after the merger and rebranding, from roughly 1,700 to 3,500 followers. UCLA enrolls over 30,000 undergraduate students.
Audrey Miano, a Career Peer who graduated from UCLA in June, said she thinks services provided by the Career Center are very underrated.
“The fact that I had never stepped foot in the Career Center until I interviewed for the Career Peer position infuriates me to this day because the services the Career Peers and the rest of the Career Center staff offer are so easily accessible and incredibly valuable,” Miano said.
Miano added that she attributes her current employment at her dream job to her time as a Career Peer, which led to an encounter with her future employer at the Career Center event “Geeks Who Game.”
“I love being able to tell people that I work for the company I do because I met the vice president at a Career Center networking event in the spring,” Miano said. “I literally wouldn’t be sitting at this desk right now had I not attended that event and mentioned that networking experience in my job interview.”
Dadgar added that she has gained professional development from her time as a Career Peer.
“We have one-on-ones with the supervisors to talk about what direction we’re hoping to head in. I got to help with internal problem-solving a lot to maybe take that into a business-related path,” Dadgar said. “They really wanted to point internships toward our needs, so that’s been cool.”
Henneke said he believes his work as a Career Peer has improved his professional skills.
“You’re learning every day,” Henneke said. “You’re improving communication skills, professional skills, meeting a lot of employers.”
Rampaul said she thinks the Career Peers are successful because they care about helping students navigate career development.
“They want to help their fellow students, to make it easier and less confusing and less scary,” Rampaul said. “They’ve all been there, so they identify with what we’re trying to do.”