Connecting With Those Who Once Traveled the Same Path During annual career event, UCLA Luskin Alumni Career Leaders share employment insights and offer career advice to current students preparing to enter the job market

More than 60 alumni returned to UCLA Luskin on April 26, 2018, to provide informational interviews to students during the second annual Alumni Career Connections event.

The meetings gave Urban Planning, Public Policy and Social Welfare students an opportunity to meet graduates of the School who serve as Luskin Alumni Career Leaders and receive career advice, learn about job opportunities and connect with practitioners in their fields of career interest.

The number of alumni volunteers grew by 30 percent this year, giving UCLA Luskin students additional opportunities to gain invaluable information.

“A 2017 Career Services survey ranked alumni networking as one of the graduates’ top two sources of job leads, so it’s essential to provide these opportunities to students,” said VC Powe, director of Career Services and the Leadership Development Program.

“We were very excited to be able to put on this event for a second year in a row,” said Emily Le, career counselor at UCLA Luskin. “It gives students an opportunity to connect with many alumni in their related fields that they wouldn’t normally get an opportunity to meet with. Some of the first-year students have already said that they’re looking forward to next year’s event.”

Alumni also appreciated the opportunity to meet current students. Sheena Innocente MSW ’15 said, “The students I met with were very interested in learning about research consulting and how it can serve to shift policy at nonprofit agencies and in political ways.”

This year’s Career Connections event was expanded to include a resume station and a free photo booth for LinkedIn and other website headshots.

Many students, such as first-year public policy student Sarah Rubinstein, seized the opportunity to improve their professional profiles by getting photos taken. Others worked with Social Welfare alumnae Christina Hernandez and Juliane Nguyen and Public Policy alumna Emily Williams to review their resumes. The three also coached students on how best to formally present their information for interviews.

The meetings did not end once the doors were shut in the Ackerman Grand Ballroom; some alumni joined students for dinner or coffee and many exchanged business cards to stay in contact with their newfound UCLA Luskin connections.

Ruby Ramirez, who is in her second year as a dual MPP and MSW student, and C.J. Horvath, who is in his first year of the MURP degree, were two of the attendees who said they gained important connections with new alumni, while reinforcing their current networks. “I thought the whole event was done really well,” Horvath said.

As the lights were dimmed and a crew began to clear furniture, Williams MPP ’98, was spotted in the corner with a student. “I can’t leave now,” she called out, “I want to finish with this student before I go.”

— UCLA Luskin staff

Click or swipe to view additional photos from the event on Flickr:

Alumni Career Connections Event

‘A Lot of Opportunity’ for Luskin Students More than 50 companies and organizations woo students at the UCLA Luskin Career Fair

By Adrian Bijan White

While UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs students represent a wide variety of educational backgrounds and experiences, they share a reputation for motivation and passion for their chosen fields. Recognizing this, more than 50 companies and organizations participated in the school’s 5th annual Career Fair held recently at UCLA’s Ackerman Grand Ballroom.

VC Powe, director of Career Services and Leadership Development at Luskin, spoke highly of the diverse expertise of the students from the Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning programs offered at Luskin.

“They understand the individual through social work,” Powe said. “They understand how they are impacted through their community with planning. And, with policy, they understand what the economy is like, how it impacts our students, and what  we need to resolve to have healthy communities.”

The Luskin Career Fair, which has grown significantly over the years, partnered with the UCLA Career Center and the School of Public Health to attract a larger crowd from a broader range of disciplines. Both the public and private sectors were represented, with each company seeking students with specific skill sets from the school’s three departments.

With the economy still recovering from the Great Recession, the job market remains competitive for recent graduates. Representatives from local organizations such as Heal the Bay and Tree People attracted students with backgrounds in environmental science and policy. Major U.S. organizations, such as AECOM, that serve clients and countries around the world provided opportunities in urban planning and transportation.

“Urban planning is becoming more and more popular because we start to further urbanize as cities and people are becoming very interested in growth,” explained Rachel Lindt, representing AECOM. “I am optimistic not just because I know we are interested in potentially bringing on some people today, but because just for L.A. in itself, there is a lot of optimism for what the city can be. Locally, there is a lot of opportunity.”

Opportunities and information in the financial sector — from private firms to government agencies — also were available to Luskin students.

Audrey Bazos from the California Department of Finance said it can be challenging to explain exactly what her agency does, “but students are receptive and I can see eyes widen when they realize that it isn’t all about number crunching. That’s exciting and what I’m hoping for when I talk to the students.”

Jimmy Tran, who is pursuing both Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) and Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees at UCLA, said he hoped to find a niche for his studies.

“What I’m hoping to gain from this experience is more about getting information,” Tran said. “One of the things I’m keeping in mind is whether there is an opportunity to apply the skills I’ve learned in public health and urban planning. I’m open to any experience — anything is helpful — but as a person studying two diverse fields, it is good for me to apply what I learn.”

Many Luskin students gain valuable experience in a variety of careers before embarking on their graduate studies. Tae Kang, a second-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) student, began working as a teacher before starting his studies in public policy.

“What I realized by serving as a teacher at the high school and middle school levels, especially in Inglewood, was how much improving our schools on a practical, ground-floor level is necessary for the improvement of our society,” Kang said.

For students in the Master of Social Welfare (MSW) program, gaining information about organizations and companies linked to social work is particularly important as they learn about agencies that work both at the individual level with small companies and on macro-level policy issues with cities.

“When you bring in someone who has that knowledge, ability and the passion to make a change, it impacts the entire organization,” Powe said. “That’s what we bring to the table.”