Advice and Stories from Our Alumni

  • .Maria T. KhanBA International Studies, 2016
    • Describe your career trajectory since graduation
      • "After graduating with a degree in International Studies from UC Irvine, I was selected to participate in an intensive, graduate-level public affairs fellowship program. As a Fellow for Coro Southern California, I had the opportunity to view public affairs through the lens of private and public sectors. Over the span of 9 months, I was placed in seven different organizations such as ABC7, LA County Department of Public Works, The Coca-Cola Company, and more. While I was working full-time, I discovered what skills I brought to the table and what I felt that I was missing. At UC Irvine, I was provided an excellent skill set for 'why' learnings. My professional career after UCI focused on 'what' learnings. Now that I knew why I was passionate about immigrant issues and what exactly I wanted to work on for immigrant communities, I started asking myself 'how' will I contribute to this work?"
    • What was your experience utilizing the career services at UCI?
      • "Take advantage of the career services through the Division of Career Pathways at UC Irvine! I visited numerous times for resume reviews, mock interviews, workshops, internship advice, and more. I received a mock interview before my Coro interview. The feedback and encouragement she provided me truly helped me feel confident during my real interview."
    • What is one thing you wish you would have done or taken advantage of?
      • "I never got a chance to attend UCDC! I truly wish I had taken advantage of the opportunity to live and work in D.C. for a summer!"
    • Do you have any advice for someone exploring career paths?
      • "There is no one way to explore career paths! Take time out to do what works for you whether that's volunteering, reading a book, cultivating mentors, auditing a class, etc."

  • .Jose BejarBA Psychology and Social Behavior and Criminology, Law and Society, 2017
    • How has UC Irvine shaped your career?
      • "Going into college, I knew once I graduated I wanted to give back to my community in Los Angeles. As a first-generation Latino, coming to UCi was a privilege I worked hard for. However, my first two years at college were difficult for me. I felt like I was not prepared enough to be here. My ELA and math skills were not as great as some of my peers and I was not used to the rigor like they were. I kept this in the back of my head. Fast forward to my 4th year, my experience as a Peer Consultant made me realize that I find it fulfilling to help others. During my last year at UCI, I wanted to become a Career Counselor. At the same time, my experience at Extended Day Center opened my eyes to the inequity there is in education. I definitely noticed the huge gap in skills between the students there and the students back in LA. I acknowledged that these students have more resources than the students back home did. I shared this experience with the career engagement educators and expressed how I wanted to give back to my community. They connected me with Natasha, the City Year recruiter at UCI, and I applied to City Year!"
    • Do you have any advice for someone exploring career paths?
      • "Tell everyone what type of job you're looking for. It's nice to have multiple people reach out to you about opportunities they hear about and think you'd be a good fit for."
    • What is your current role?
      • "I am currently a Team Leader for City Year Los Angeles. My main role is to support the First Year AmeriCorps Members. I also assist my Program Manager and help run the after-school program."
    • What do you find challenging? What do you enjoy most?
      • "Some of the challenges in this position are remaining emotionally constant and being responsive to conflict instead of resistant. The days can be long sometimes and it can be difficult avoiding getting too emotionally invested. That said, I enjoy forming relationships with the students and seeing the light bulb moment when they understand something. It's great to watch them grow."

  • .Christian JohnsonMBA, 2017
    • How has UC Irvine shaped your career?
      • "UCI had an influential impact on redirecting my career path toward working in a company that I am proud and honored to work for every day. The career exploration process at UCI helped me to evaluate which companies were built upon a purpose, values, and aspirations that align strongly with my own. Through that process, I discovered Edwards Lifesciences. I applied for a summer MBA internship at Edwards, fell in love with the company, and decided that I would continue pursuing a career at Edwards."
    • Do you have any advice for someone exploring career paths?
      • "I recommend that students invest significant time and energy into being as close to, and 'in the trenches' of that job as possible. This may involve volunteering, conducting research, doing short-term consulting projects for companies, enrolling in summer internships, participating in global fellowship programs, or taking classes. These types of activities will give the student a taste of whether or not it is the right type of work for them."
    • What is your current role?
      • "By day, I serve as a manager in the strategic leadership development program at Edwards Lifesciences. In this role, my responsibilities focus on special strategic global projects for the company. By night and weekend, I serve as co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit Seed Consulting Group, a pro-bono environmental consulting, education, and leadership development nonprofit."
    • What do you enjoy most about the industry you work in?
      • "Healthcare is an inspirational field to work in. The work we do has a big impact on helping people live longer and healthier lives. I am honored that I get to spend my time working alongside brilliant colleagues and clinicians from around the world to innovate technologies and programs that advance how we help millions of people affect by heart disease."

  • .Michelle LumasagBA Psychology, 2012
    • How has UC Irvine shaped your career?
      • "UCI has a number of great opportunities for students to explore careers, build their resume, and network. Through each internship and work opportunity, I was able to gain a stronger understanding of the type of clients I wanted to serve and the type of work I enjoy doing. In particular, the UCDC Academic Internship Program was the most eye-opening experience because it was my first opportunity to join the 'work force' as a full-time intern and take just one or two classes while living in Washington, D.C. for a quarter. Additionally, after doing UCDC, I was able to work as the UCDC Student Coordinator at UCI, which really helped hone my counseling and public speaking skills."
    • Describe the process you took to learn about/explore career paths while at UCI
      • "I initially wanted to obtain a degree in English because I genuinely enjoyed writing, but I wasn't certain what I would do with that degree so I decided on Psychology because I thought it might be more flexible. I wasn't exactly sure what career I wanted, but I knew that I wanted to work with underserved communities. I did an internship teaching elementary school kids in a low-income community, but working directly with children wasn't the right fit for me. During my junior year, I participated in the UCDC program and held a public policy internship with the National Women's Law Center, which made me realize that I wanted to work directly with individual clients rather than lobbying or drafting legislation. I ended up working as the UCI UCDC Student Coordinator during my senior year and really enjoyed counseling and guiding UCI student through the UCDC application process and program. Through each of these internships, classes, and experiences, I realized my love for writing and counseling individuals and thought that law school would be a good fit."
    • Describe your career trajectory since graduation
      • "After graduating UCI, I went straight to law school at Chapman University. During law school, I held internships with a family law judge, the Department of Health and Human Services, an immigration law firm, and multiple semesters with the immigration clinic where I worked with victims of domestic violence and asylum seekers. After passing the California State Bar, I worked at a civil litigation firm for about 1 1/2 years before leaving to pursue a career in immigration law."
    • What was your experience utilizing the career services at UCI?
      • "I used the services at the Division of Career Pathways to review my cover letters and resume when I was applying to internships for UCDC. I also did mock interviews with their counselors. It was great practice and their feedback was constructive."

Words of Wisdom

“You do not need to have it all figured out, but you should have a plan and a willingness to persevere and improve. You will get better if you try.”

Dave Nelson
UCI Alumnus, History (PhD)

“Start early and find people who are going to be your champions, mentors, and support system. Don’t look at relationships and meeting people as transactional, but relational.”

Nithin Jilla
UCI Alumnus, Computer Science