Here We Do: Students of Internship Plus (SQ22)

We know that not every student can afford to take an unpaid internship, which influenced our decision to establish the Internship Plus Scholarship. This scholarship awards up to $2,500 in financial assistance to students who have an unpaid internship opportunity and demonstrate financial need. Through this program, many students, like the ones below, have been able to gain important experience in their field of interest.

In the Spring Quarter of the past academic year, we funded many fantastic students in their pursuit to further their career and expand their knowledge. We have collected some of our favorite stories students have told us about their internships experiences. Read about their amazing journey’s here:

Justice Cody – Office of the City Treasurer

At the City Treasurer’s Office, I work with the Investing Department and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Team for most of my work. My current role in the Investments Department is to correct and compile a list of the different companies, bonds, and securities the City of Chicago has invested its pension funds in. As a Finance Major, I wanted to take this time to learn what a portfolio management team does to clean up any issues they have throughout their operations.

My time with the DEI team consists of coordinating different events that our Madam Treasurer could attend to promote more financial literacy throughout the city. I also work on curating different impact points that the CTO can work towards for our financial awareness program. I find these impact points by looking at the data of the participants to find any correlations to things like the increase in their FICO scores. For example, I determined that one of the best sessions that participants can do in the program to increase their FICO score is to participate in their follow-up coaching sessions. Throughout my time analyzing the data, I wanted to hone my skills in interpreting information and providing valuable results from the research.

I enjoyed the positive work environment and the ability to walk around the office and talk with everyone about their role at the CTO and socialize during lunch breaks. I also enjoyed many of the opportunities that came with having close relations with the CTO, such as meeting with several employees from countless industries whenever we either hosted or participated in events throughout the city.

It was because of my connections within the organization did I find my following internship and fostered connections with banks in the city. Since completing my internship, my biggest takeaway is to always talk to my colleagues and stay present within your organization.

I had noticed that the more I socialized with my coworkers, the better they felt throughout the day as well. This internship has helped me reach my goal of gaining experience in the workforce while learning how to communicate better with others. I have also reached my goal of having exposure to working with a Portfolio Management team.

My advice to other students looking for internship opportunities is to apply early and find ways to contact the team you would be working with if selected for the desired position. Putting a face to the name of an applicant will give you a huge advantage against your competition. As an Internship Plus Award recipient, this award has allowed me to focus more on school and my performance in my internship and worry less about the food and transportation expenses that I incurred during the internship.

Samira Al-Aghbary – Zesa Wellness

My Spring internship was with a fantastic start-up company Zesa Wellness. Zesa Wellness offers evidence-based mindfulness programs for the healthcare workplace. Zesa was founded in 2016 by co-owners Ashley Hardcastle and Dr. Maitri Vaidya. Both hold a strong background in philosophy, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Zesa lands in the industry of ‘Occupational Wellness’ which is a fast and growing industry.

My role at Zesa Wellness was Market Research and Analyst Intern. This means that I was developing research on the industry, competitors, and customers. With my research and analysis, I was able to assist the founders in which industry to submerge into, which was finalized as the ‘Occupational Wellness’ industry. Then listing several competitors in this small yet growing market, and presenting the similarities and trends from those companies. Finally, with in-depth research and finding out who will most benefit from Zesa’s services, I presented a list of high potential customers to target. 

This company taught me how difficult it can be to start a business. Although they have had three clients, this company is fresh in the market and will need to have extreme growth to remain successful. In my downtime, I was able to create fun graphics from survey stats from previous Zesa courses taken. Using my creativity to better help relay the message to potential clients was enjoyable. 

In addition, I was able to learn and embrace myself in the act of mindfulness. Learning the skills on how to cope with in your professional day-to-day life with simple acts of breathing and yoga.

This business and working with this business alongside mindfulness professionals have helped me gain insight into how important mental health is for everyone, especially professionals experiencing burnout. 

With this experience of researching a new market and analyzing data with limited information, I was able to use my marketing skills from the IME honors program to fill in any gaps. Using tools like Qualtrics with DePaul, I could curate surveys from scratch to use as a ‘mock-up’ survey for the founders to use in the future. Using tools like Qualtrics, start-up businesses can learn a lot about what their customers are looking for and how to better improve their product/service. 

Overall, all the skills and tools utilized in this internship will further help me tailor my resume and further prepare me for the real world of marketing. 

Ataib Saleem – Portra Spring

I’m part of a small team of dedicated individuals led by our founder, and we’re looking to spread brand awareness about Portra by utilizing platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Portra also does this through photo galleries; these galleries do a substantial job in helping spread brand awareness. Each member is responsible for managing the three social media channels, I’m responsible for managing Facebook. All team members are also given responsibilities in the event planning that makes sure that photo galleries are a success.

I’m in charge of managing Facebook and am given the responsibility of posting daily content through conventional Facebook posts as well as Facebook stories. At the beginning of my internship, I had to create a brief strategic plan for Facebook where I had to conduct an internal analysis of Porta’s Facebook page, this included a SWOT analysis, looking at demographics and past page performance in Meta, and creating personas of our target. Externally, I was to find competitors on Facebook and monitor their page performance and how they are getting engagement, and learn from them, what are they doing right? and if they are not getting good engagement and not performing well overall, what mistakes are they making? All this information is then used to decide how to proceed with content and other strategies on Facebook. 

For our content, we curate photography available on Instagram and feature them in our posts. We also utilize Canva to create ads for things such as our events and other types of content in an attempt to drive more engagement. Utilizing Canva for social media content is very important, and it has allowed me to think creatively as a plan and design banners for Portra.

For our events, each team member is responsible for finding leads, this includes scouting for talented photographers on all social media channels, I mainly do this by using Chicago photography-focused Facebook groups. There are many photographers out there in Chicago, my team members and I reached our goal and got 25 photographers signed up for our event that happened on June 18!

We are now focused on advertising the gallery to potential attendees. Finding leads has led me to gain skills on how to better approach potential conversions and pitch them an opportunity. 

Event planning and promotion have to be my favorite part. After spending two months scouting for photographers and also promoting the event to other attendees and having them come out to the event (we have around 80 people coming in), it’s just so satisfying seeing your work pay off.  And this is also my biggest takeaway from this internship, spending time and effort promoting to make not only this event, but also helping a small startup like Portra that has a very limited budget and relies on organic growth, can be challenging, especially on a platform like Facebook, but if you constantly keep at it, you will see gradual growth.

Another skill I’m learning with events is communication. Keeping up with multiple emails and communicating professionally as a business is a vital skill that shows that you can represent and appropriately represent a business by coordinating with our participants (the photographers showcasing their work) about the event.

Even though this internship is for a small startup, it’s a good base for someone seeking their first internship opportunity. My advice for students seeking their first internship is not to be choosy about a specific company or industry, in your job search, to broaden your horizon, you may find an opportunity that might lead you to discover something else you like. All that I mentioned above about my duties and responsibilities enhanced my understanding of what is to be expected in a marketing-related position.

Kristian Dankov – WMOOR Clothing

I was working for a small startup streetwear clothing brand named WMOOR Clothing. The WMOOR stands for We Make Our Reality. I was in charge of creating and executing a marketing strategy for the brand through paid search and social media, as well as creating content for social media and optimizing the web page. 

My biggest takeaway from this internship was learning about how to market a brand from zero and knowing what it’s like to have full creative control of the brand marketing efforts (alongside input from the owner, of course). I learned about the long process of creating a plan, the steps that are needed to execute the plan, as well as how important proper execution is. On top of that, I also took away that not everything is going to work the way you want it to from the get-go, and that it’s important to continuously look at how things are performing and optimize/adjust from there.

It helped me get closer to my goals as it gave me the experience I wanted on what to do and what not to do when marketing a brand. I, one day, want to have my own business, and knowing how to properly market a new business is important, especially in today’s day and age.

I would advise students seeking or working at internships to not be afraid to fail at a given task. Failure is one of the greatest learning experiences and nobody expects you to do everything perfectly from the first try. Don’t be afraid of trying things because you might fail.

This award impacted my quarter as I had enough financial means to perform at my internship without having to worry about where I’m going to get money to buy gas and groceries. It helped out a lot when it came to that and not having to worry.

Cee Pham – Pathfinders Project

Pathfinders Project is a documentary project started by Magdiel Carmona which focuses on queer elders’ stories, filming at Center on Halsted. I worked as a filmmaker, switching roles and jobs amongst the various other filmmakers. Some days, I would work as the director of photography. Some days, I would work as the interviewer alongside Mag. Some days, I was the sound person, recording the interview itself. Some days, I would work as the camera operator and lighting operator. Nonetheless, the project was a great opportunity for me as a filmmaker to try various parts of filmmaking and learn how to work with various people.

The best part of the internship itself was allowing these queer elders to open up about their experiences and connect with them. It was exhilarating meeting other queer elders who were also people of color. I was able to connect and talk to people similar to me. Though I always thought multi-generational conversations were difficult, I found it easy to share similar values and learn from these queer elders. The most memorable moment was connecting with Angela Barnes who is a fellow queer person of color. She had various moments where she wanted to connect these drastically different parts of her identity, her queerness, her blackness, and her femininity, to which she created a queer-friendly BIPOC bar. 

One of my biggest concerns with being in the film industry is not finding a space that’s welcoming to Asian American women, especially a cinematographer. Since the film industry glorifies big picture films and working on them, the Pathfinders internship was a breath of fresh air.

The internship is a small project with a big impact. It is a passion project created through the limited equipment the filmmakers have. It allowed me to believe that I can truly pursue anything I want to and don’t have to confine myself to Hollywood films.

I would suggest working on anything that students are remotely interested in without the fear of not being successful in the film industry. As long as people seek out work with similar interests as them, they will have a good experience regardless. 

The Internship Plus award helped me allow focus on my school and career without the financial stress.  It was my first quarter as a student at DePaul that let me feel like an actual college student. This was the first quarter that I have not worked a minimum wage job to pay my rent. It helped me focus on film school and have the privilege of spending time working towards my passion.

Here We Do: Students of Internship Plus (WQ22)

We know that not every student can afford to take an unpaid internship, which influenced our decision to establish the Internship Plus Program. This program awards up to $2,500 in financial assistance to students who have an unpaid internship opportunity and demonstrate financial need. Through this program, many students, like the ones below, have been able to gain important experience in their field of interest. Hear about it from them:

Haley Colegate interned at Arts of Life

My experience as an intern at Arts of Life consisted primarily of socializing with and assisting the artists in studio, as well as teaching weekly art history talks for virtual programming.

Choosing my favorite aspect of my internship is incredibly difficult, though I would have to say that forming relationships with the artists was definitely the most rewarding! For instance, one of the artists, Susan, sang to me a song that she had written about me, which brought a huge smile to my face. I have learned so much about each of their families, their passions, their pets—really anything that they wanted to share with me, I was happy to listen.

However, it was also hard at times. Sometimes artists would share very sensitive and upsetting events from their past with me. On one hand, I felt honored that they entrusted me with such information. However, I couldn’t help but be saddened by what I was told. When these sorts of topics came up, it helped test my skills with trauma responses and how to provide a safe place for artists to share.

As someone who is on track to become a therapist with a specialty in art, this internship at Arts of Life was a perfect fit for me.

I got to see first-hand how the creative process builds relationships, encourages independence, and provides a sense of fulfillment in these artists.

My experiences there also helped me to talk to other facilitators who worked there, many of whom are artists themselves. Meeting new people with similar interests/ career goals as myself is always beneficial.

In terms of advice, I would first recommend only interning at a place that you feel truly passionate about. If you don’t enjoy the work, the value of your experience greatly diminishes. Fortunately, Arts of Life combined two of my passions, which are special needs advocacy and art!

Without my Internship Plus award, I would have had a much more difficult time getting to and from my internship. Arts of Life is located on the west side of town and, without a car, was pretty hard to access by public transit. I am so grateful that I was chosen as a recipient, and I hope that this award will continue for others in the future!

Kendrick Bryant interned for RUN Sports

For my internship, I worked remote from home for a company in New York called RUN Sports. My official role working in the company was a mobile game developer/software engineer, and my work mostly focused on being the programmer for a mobile game.

Some of my responsibilities were handling the user interface, gameplay, and animations. What I enjoyed most about my internship were the people I got the opportunity to work with within the company. Everyone was very dedicated, enthusiastic about the project and remained motivated while working on the project to the end.

Some of my biggest takeaways from this internship were time management. During my internship, me and my group created meetings separate from our boss just so we could stay organized, and we created deadlines for ourselves to make sure we had extra development time. Everyone made sure that we accomplished our tasks ahead of time and this allowed us to have a very smooth development process.

This internship helped me get closer to achieving my career goals as it gave me more experience within the industry, more experience working with other people, and new tools to help me progress in my field.

My advice to other students would be, if you’re searching for an internship, find a project that you’re sure that you’re going to be passionate about. A lot of people get an internship, but then lose their motivation and get burnt out. If you find something that you’re passionate about, there will be less chances of you getting burnt out and bored of the project.

Being an Internship Plus award recipient impacted me positively as my internship was unpaid and required a lot of time and energy which would’ve gone into my part-time job. Receiving this award allowed me to focus more on my internship, my education and my career.

Malena Petronijevic interned at FashionBar Chicago

My internship at FashionBar Chicago in the Water Tower Place has given me the opportunity the gain a better understanding of the technical work a company needs to function efficiently. Not only did I get a finer idea of my management style, but also what I value in a work environment.

I engaged in many different parts of a business including marketing, finance, and management. Over the past few weeks I have been able to book designers for our upcoming April and October fashion shows, access and post on our TikTok and Instagram accounts, and manage mass communication emails. One of the most important and enjoyable learning lessons has been gaining a better understanding of entrepreneurial perspectives and how to eventually build something of my own.

Tony Long, my supervisor and the CEO, has structured all lessons with a common theme of applicability outside of FashionBar Chicago, which I have genuinely appreciated. My biggest takeaway in this internship has been learning about applicable work knowledge. Whether that was email etiquette, developing professional relationships, or setting boundaries, being able to learn about these rules in a work environment was very insightful.

I have also become very proud of my growing confidence inside and outside of the business. FashionBar Chicago, as a business administration major, has allowed me to reflect on what I would and would not want to apply in my management style. I hope that I can continue to explore alternative work environments but now know I work well in smaller teams.

My biggest advice for students seeking internships is to build connections with your business as best as possible. I had the opportunity to volunteer for Chicago Fashion Week back in October and because of my attentiveness then, was able to intern for them! As I continue to grow and constantly express my eagerness to learn, I have even had discussions with my supervisor regarding a potential job offer.

Do not feel afraid to ask questions. Your willingness to learn the industry will be very noticeable and influential. In regards to the Internship Plus award, the award has significantly impacted my financial stability this quarter. In December, prior to the internship, I broke my ankle in a mall shooting by falling down the escalators. Regaining my physical strength while working at an internship for free has been a unique experience! Being able to leave my part-time job was an easier experience with the award. Additionally, receiving the award was an immense honor considering my grade level and experience.

Anonda Tyler interned at Lincoln Park Preschool

My name is Anonda Tyler, better known as Nonie, and to the students I observed and taught Ms. Nonie. On Tuesdays and Thursdays , the school that I did my fieldwork hours at was at the Lincoln Park Preschool.

The school is smack in one of the busy places in the city and is a private school. This school is a dream location to me because it is right across the street from the Lincoln Park Zoo, where we always went to walk when we took the children outside for fresh air. The zoo was perfect to share intimate and angelic experiences that helped me build bonds with students more closely.

The days where I went to visit were during the school day, and typically their hours for school are 9 to 3 o’clock, where they take naps at 1pm, then wait for pick up at 2pm. I stayed from 7 o’clock till 12pm on most days and managed to get over 17 field hours.

The grade I was working with were preschoolers, who were called the 3s and 4s group. I enjoyed most visiting the zoo, and this internship allowed me to appreciate the art of play in teaching and why it is important to include multiple mediums with fine motor skills and gross motor skills activities.

This award impacted me in a good way financially, because it is very hard for my family and I to pay tuition, so it alleviated a lot of stress with worrying about proceeding in this field that I am passionate about due to not always having the resources to support that dream.

My Career Journey at DePaul

by Kyra Buenaventura

As a wide-eyed, excited freshman, I entered DePaul with two years of work experience and the mindset to conquer the world. One of the most formative experiences of my career path was participating in the EDGE program at DePaul. EDGE, or Education and Development Grant for Employability, is a program that is designed to combine career development and job skill development for first-year students. Through this program, I designed my first resume and completed projects where I learned many transferable skills. 

During this time, I was also applying to many on-campus jobs. I wanted to be able to have a sustainable job by the time my sophomore year came around. I received interview invitations, but I was never able to secure a job acceptance. After multiple rejections, I had to reflect on why I was not getting job offers when I received an interview.

Through this reflection period, I realized that my interview skills were lacking. I was not making myself and my skills appealing to other employers. Luckily, EDGE was conducting mock interviews where I was able to receive feedback firsthand. Through this mock interview, I built upon my previous knowledge and worked on making myself a more appealing candidate. I asked my friends and the Career Center to review my resume and cover letters, and I took all of their advice and feedback and applied it to my resume. 

Courtelyou Commons at night!

At the beginning of sophomore year, I was hired to be a Crew member at the Student Center. Through this experience, I learned about teamwork and time management. I was now juggling classes, homework, a social life, and my new job. My job as a part of the Crew is an experience that was formative to who I am today. I learned more about who I was as a student and employee, and it felt like my first real job in two years. Unfortunately, that job was interrupted by the pandemic, so my experience as a Crew member was cut short. 

During the pandemic, I applied to become an Orientation Leader at DePaul. Becoming an Orientation Leader was a dream job that I had ever since I entered DePaul. It combined all of my experiences at the university, and I was able to guide incoming freshmen into their first year at DePaul. It has been my favorite experience at DePaul thus far. I gained interpersonal skills and was part of a community of like-minded individuals, and I had freedom to create projects and outreach to students. 

Me with a couple of my Orientation Leader friends!

As of the start of my senior year, I am currently working as the Health Care & Science Career Community Ambassador at the DePaul Career Center. This opportunity has been the culmination of all of the work I have done at DePaul. I advise students on improvements they can make to their resumes and cover letters, conduct mock interviews to help students feel more comfortable when applying to jobs, internships, and graduate school, and more. 

Throughout my career journey, I have learned to never give up even in the face of adversity. Now, I do not see rejection as a reflection of my character. Rejection motivates me to reflect on my actions and see if there are ways that I can improve whether that means reaching out and asking for help or taking advantage of the resources that are available. 

Employer Spotlight: Willie Love (Health Sciences ‘19), Howard Brown Health

The Health Care & Science (HCS) Career Community wants to introduce students to a wide range of careers. Students may be familiar with popular clinical roles (e.g., nurse, physician, veterinarian), but less familiar with jobs in healthcare data analytics, renewable energy, or biotech research.  

Willie Love (‘19 Health Sciences) is a Social and Behavioral Coordinator at Howard Brown Health serving the South Side community of Chicago. In a recent interview, Debbie Kaltman (HCS Employer Engagement Specialist) spoke with him about his day-to-day life, internship experiences, and advice that he would give to students. 

As a Social and Behavioral Research Coordinator, Willie recruits people for research projects surrounding topics in community health. He takes patients through the research activities and gathers preliminary data for researchers to analyze. His main goal is to create an environment of comfort within the research space. 

In his DePaul experience, he initially pursued the pre-medicine track but changed to focus on the community health perspective rather than the individualized perspective of health. He interned at the Cook County Jail in the Cermak Hospital, which was one of his most influential experiences. After graduating from DePaul, he worked at Baxter before transitioning into his current position. 

His advice for students interested in community health is to try everything and be curious. If you go off of your preconceived notions, this restricts you. Being curious and exploring the resources around you will benefit your career exploration! To connect with Willie and other DePaul alums, join the DePaul Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network!

How I Used Cover Letters to my Advantage in a Competitive Job Field

By Hannah Coleman, Operations Coordinator, Career Center

Getting a cover letter right can be difficult, especially when the style and tone vary depending on the job and the company you are applying for. When cover letters are done well though, the payoff can be crucial to prompt employers to give your application more than just a cursory glance. 

I have a story that I like to tell people who are skeptical about the importance of cover letters: 

About a year ago, I applied for a job as an Editorial Assistant at a well-known independent publishing company. I knew my application was a long-shot, as jobs in the book publishing industry are scarce and highly competitive. Still, I had 2 years of relevant experience, and was hoping to finally get my foot in the door to move up into a more active role in the industry. 

In my cover letter, after summarizing my relevant experience, I included a paragraph at the end of my letter stating why I admired the company and some specifics on why I was interested in the types of books that they published. I brought up projects that I had worked on in my previous role and talked about similar projects I saw the company was currently working on. I also brought up my own career goals and why I thought working at this company would accomplish those aims. Because I really did invest in the projects I had worked on in my previous job, and personally enjoyed them, I tried to make sure that interest showed in my letter. 

The next day, I got an email from a manager expressing interest. This part of their response really stood out to me:

“Your experiences and interest that you shared in your cover letter immediately stood out to us. Although you may not have some of the technical skills we are looking for, we would like to discuss options with you in an interview.” 

I was grateful for the interview opportunity even though I knew I had a little less experience than needed. I was glad that I went ahead and applied anyway, because you never know! While I didn’t end up getting the job, the managers were still impressed with my effort and interest and they offered me some freelance work. Although this was a pretty rare instance, it made me hopeful that all the effort I was putting into my cover letters was starting to pay off. 

With that said, here are some things I have picked up on through my job search experiences that I personally find helpful: 

Research matters!

A big mistake that a lot of people make is not customizing their cover letter to reflect that they have done research on that specific company. If you are sending out the same generic cover letter for every job application, then it’s not likely to get much attention. The cover letter is your chance to prove beyond your resume that you have a personal and professional stake in the job or company. 

Research the company’s mission and goals, get familiar with the current staff and their roles so you can reference them when necessary, and understand the company’s work and look into their projects. Use that knowledge to highlight if you’ve worked on something similar or applicable, and explain what nuance or perspective you could bring to the company’s current aims.

Specificity is key 

Be as specific as possible when you explain the utility of your job experience. Avoid common phrases like: “Based on this job description, I would be well suited for this role and have all of the capabilities listed in your requirements.” This doesn’t tell us about your strengths. Instead, be specific so employers know exactly what your abilities are. For example: “In the job description, I notice your preference for candidates who have experience using Adobe Suite. In the past year working as an Editorial Assistant, I used InDesign and Photoshop on a weekly basis to create page layouts for manuscripts and to touch up and edit photos for final production.” 

This helps hiring managers feel more confident about your skills and experience when inviting you for an interview. Hiring managers do not want to have to dig to find out if you meet their standards. 

Have someone review your cover letter 

This one seems like a given, but it surprises me how often I hear people say they skip this step. Errors in a cover letter or resume will typically remove you from consideration pretty quickly. It is always a good idea to have someone look over your cover letter, even if you think it’s fairly polished. For particularly important applications, revising multiple drafts has served me well. 

DePaul Career Center has skilled and resourceful career advisors that can give you feedback on cover letters. You can also check out the Writing Center as they can also provide hands-on feedback for writing style and grammar. 

Detailed cover letters are fuel for great interview conversations

In the interview that I mentioned earlier, the hiring managers brought up content from my cover letter several times, which led to productive conversations that allowed them to understand me and my interests better. I find that when hiring managers are able to converse with you in an interview more freely, then you are more likely to move forward in the interviewing process because you have had a memorable interaction with them and connected with them on a deeper level. This also allows your personality to show. In your cover letter, if you provide interviewers with just enough of a doorway to ask follow-up questions in an interview later, then this will help spark that conversation. For example, in my cover letter, I wrote this about a current editorial project I was working on: 

“A project that will be published this spring, Words is a Powerful Thing by Brian Daldorph, is a book written by a creative writing instructor and poet at the University of Kansas. His book recounts his experiences teaching creative writing at a county jail in rural Kansas. His own commentary, experiences and reflections are intermingled with some of the inmates’ own poetry and interviews. In the early stages, I worked with the author and editors closely to provide writing style suggestions and critiques on organization and flow of the manuscript.” 

This type of commentary isn’t always entirely necessary for a cover letter, but it completely depends on the context. In this case, I wanted to introduce the type of work I was doing without oversharing details. In the interview, the hiring managers asked me to discuss this project and similar ones I was working on. We had great conversations about the project itself and it was a great moment to connect with them on our shared enthusiasm for this work. 

Cover letters can be a surprisingly powerful tool if you can use some of these tips to work in your favor! 

My Pre-Health Journey at DePaul

by Kyra Buenaventura

My aspirations for becoming a physician started when I was in middle school. I also contemplated starting a bakery, becoming a forensic scientist or becoming a gemologist. However, I ultimately found my calling: to pursue a career in the health field. In high school, I volunteered at a hospital, and it was my first time being in a clinical setting. Through volunteering, I was able to meet people who further ignited my passion to be in the healthcare field. 

During my junior year of high school, I got a job in an orthodontics office. I was incredibly excited about this opportunity because I was able to be hands-on in a clinical setting, and I talked to a dentist about her experiences in college. By the end of my time working at the office, I was more than excited but extremely nervous to start my journey into becoming a health professional.

A picture I took during one of my chemistry lectures

Through my research into the process of becoming a physician, I was overwhelmed by the amount of work that I had to do in order to become a competitive applicant. I was insecure in my  capacity to do the work I needed to do to the best of my abilities. In turn, I had trouble trying to adjust to the workload of college classes and the pressure of being accepted to medical school right after graduation.

Fortunately, as school progressed, I got into the rhythm of college life and schoolwork, and I started making more progress toward my career endeavors. I focused on the friendships that I have developed, and I got closer to my roommates. They were an integral part of my freshman year, and they acted as my support system through the rest of my college career.

I started going to the library and coffee shops more often because I realized that I was not productive when I studied in my dorm. I focused on bettering myself on what I could do in that moment instead of focusing on the things I was not able to do. 

I volunteered at Ann and Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. I volunteered in the playroom, and I was able to facilitate activities for the patients. The patient interaction that I experienced as a volunteer was exceptional, and it furthered my passion for becoming a physician. 

During my junior year, I went through the PAC (Pre-Health Advising Committee) process. This was the culmination of all of my health care related experiences. I utilized the Career Center to help with the interview that would happen at the end of the process. I was extremely nervous because I knew how important this interview would be towards my career aspirations. The help I received at the Career Center was extremely helpful, and I do not believe I would have been as successful as I was without their help. 

Me in my volunteer vest! Lurie Children’s also had some awesome views from their playroom.

 After careful deliberation, I decided to take a gap year — one year “off” before starting medical school. This was so I could focus on taking the MCAT and gain even more experience as a health professional. Even though this was not my original plan, I feel more comfortable and excited as ever to continue my endeavors. This gap year will enable me to gain a breather from the academic world, and will allow me to develop my skills as an individual outside of the classroom.