Student Stories

Christian Cruz Hernandez

Coming into UCLA as a first-generation transfer student, I thought my career opportunities in Business would be limited simply because of my humble background. That wasn’t how I felt after I completed the Bruin Development Academy program as I was exposed and taught first hand what it’s like to be a great consultant and overall, a great professional! Talking to these professionals and listening to their stories as students, I realized my obstacles were similar to theirs which made me believe I can be just as accomplished as they are now while always finding time to pay it forward by giving back to the Bruin family. Not only was the field of Consulting made possible, I was surrounded by eager and humble students who were just as interested, and we now developed a sense of community in which we help one another take on challenges and grow from them. So glad I applied to this program!

Christian Cruz Hernandez ’20
International Development Studies

Diversity & Success exposed to me my own potential within the business world and inspired me to have bigger aspirations. As well as exposing me to successful people who look like me and that have similar backgrounds which motivated me to reshape my current career goals.

A parallel theme amongst many of the alumni was to invest more within oneself and to take bigger calculated risks. Essentially each alumnus expressed how they reshaped viewing failure as an opportunity for growth which has enabled them to take risks that paid off greatly in their careers.

I believe every student should attend the program because of the importance of diversity within the workplace and in life. This program provided exposure to diverse thought and emphasized how critical it is for success within the workplace.

Amal Fahmi ’19
Sociology

Participating in the Consulting Bruin Development Academy allowed me to learn more in depth about the consulting industry and what consultants do. I was extremely grateful to have this experience. I was also able to speak to various associates, consultants, and project managers at a number of firms and build relationships with them.

I learned a number of things from speaking with alumnus Douglas Waters during the Consulting Bruin Development Academy. The most important thing that I took away from our conversations is keeping an open and curious mind and to keep learning. Doug is an avid reader and encouraged us young students to continue to educate ourselves through reading. I have been actively implementing his advice.

I recommend this program to other students because it will help them understand what consulting is by having young professionals speak about their first hand experiences while answering any questions that students may have. It is extremely informative and it will give you the chance to build relationships with experienced professionals. This program has assisted me in pursuing my own career goals and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity!

Justin Tonascia ’21
Business Economics

Bruin Development Academy gave me the resources to navigate a career in Consulting. I was able to network with various alumni/professionals across a variety of established firms that gave insight into the career path. This program is perfect for ALL students, no matter if you know exactly what you want to do to or you have no idea what is right for you. BDA caters to each individual students and takes the proper steps to ensure that there is a collaborative learning environment!

The best take away that I heard was how to present to people. I thought that presenting was simple, but there’s a whole science/psychology aspect to it. I was able to experience and engage with ideas like what emotions are triggered by colors, how taking a pause in between thoughts is a method to capture the audience’s attention, and how the placement of words on the powerpoint is important to convey a certain message.

Sewit Tesfamicael ’21
Business Economics

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As a first-generation college student with the dream of starting a career in finance, but having no prior connections within the industry, the Sharpe Fellows Program was able to provide me with all the resources I needed to be successful. From quarterly meetings with other ambitious and like-minded Bruins, where we listened to panels of professionals within our industry of interest, to office visits and coffee chats, and to mentorship from successful alumni, I was able to create the network I desired. This program has allowed me to achieve my professional goal of obtaining an internship with J.P. Morgan & Co.

The best take away from this program was the guidance I received from my mentor. Not only did my mentor help me figure out what I truly wanted from my career, but I was inspired to never stop learning. Most of all, I was encouraged to take the time to reflect on what I have learned and accomplished, so I can use it to benefit those around me.

I highly recommend this program to fellow Bruins because it truly prepares you for success after UCLA. Right from the beginning, you are surrounded by other Sharpe Fellows, industry mentors, and administrators, who all share the same goal of wanting to see you be successful.

James Kilgore ’20
Business Economics

Coming in, I believed a career in biopharma meant pipetting for a living. The Bruin Development Academy program thoroughly proved otherwise, as the field is a dynamic one in which all professionals are not only scientists, but also conversationalists, advocates, and lifelong learners. The promise of always having something new to study and manage, like a new drug through clinical trials, makes my prospects after graduation bright. It’s an exciting time for science!

The ideal selection of guest speakers and interactive activities got us asking the right questions and planning the next steps to propel our careers forward. The program is a great example of UCLA’s investment in students’ post-grad success, and I would recommend it to students of all majors. From hard sciences to business administration, there’s something for everyone in a Bruin Development Academy!

Rushna Raza ’19
Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology

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Learning from alumni through the Bruin Development Academy program made me more confident about my choices and helped me clarify my options for my future career. I had felt somewhat trapped as a scientist because I thought that there were very few options for us and it was going to be difficult for me to pursue a career in the industry. The alumni helped me realize that an advanced degree in a scientific discipline is the right way to go because of all the different opportunities available. Their insight showed me that there are opportunities in all aspects of the industry for a trained scientist, from business development to engineering.

Kevin Zhao ’18
Biochemistry

The Bruin Development Academy program helped give me a better sense of what consulting was — an industry that I initially knew very little about and was apprehensive about. It gave me a gateway into taking the steps to actively seek opportunities within it. I would recommend this programs to other students especially if you are undecided about your future career or just want to learn, more in-depth, about alternative career paths.

Robin Yee ’18
Human Biology and Society

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Before I joined the Bruin Development Academy, I felt lost in my career search. I knew I wanted to do something outside of my field of study, but didn’t know where to start. This program exposed me to jobs I had never heard of or thought of pursuing. Most importantly, the seminars were much more personal, transparent, and interactive than other career events. I got to participate in group activities, which allowed me to translate my scientific knowledge into business decisions. After each seminar, I followed up with the speakers and I have since stayed in contact with them.

If you’re having second thoughts about your career, this program is perfect for you. Not only does it expose you to other possibilities, it informs you of the pros and cons in each career so you can make an informed decision. Even if you’re certain of your career path, you can still benefit from networking with professionals.

Christopher Yi ’16
Neuroscience

The Bruin Development Academy program solidified my decision to accept a job as a Biological Sales Associate! After talking to professionals during the program, it confirmed to me that this was a career field I wanted to pursue and that I could imagine myself in.

The best take away from hearing the alumni (who were in sales) speak was that they loved their job! They were all so happy with their career path and I knew that I would feel similarly. Specifically, I had multiple alumni give me their contact information and ask me to keep in touch with them.

I would recommend this program to my peers because it is an incredible networking opportunity! There is no way to really know what a career is like without hearing from professionals themselves. You get so much one-on-one contact with them as well, and the advice they give is invaluable to succeeding in the industry and making an educated decision about your future.

Isabella Cianciolo ’17
Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics

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Job Ready Bucket List required me to focus on all of the things I would need to think about before applying for jobs out in the real world. This included strengthening my resume and cover letter, practicing for interviews, and ultimately really taking the time to think about what I wanted out of a career and how to make it happen. The program was extremely flexible which was nice because it gave me enough time to complete all the tasks and put a sufficient amount of work into each of them.

There are no flaws in this program! It’s a no-brainer. The program is short enough to not drag on, but slow enough to not feel too fast. Every “assignment” you do in the course is helpful to you as someone in the workforce, so it’s entirely practical and the skills you learn are usable outside of a classroom. The program is entirely online and the people running it are extremely responsive and helpful. I’d recommend this program to my peers because there are no downsides to it; it’s only helping strengthen your chances of finding success after graduation.

Gavin Kane ’17
Sociology

Job Ready Bucket List allowed me to both identify and market my best skills so that I am the best candidate for a position that interests me. Annalee, the program director, was able to point me to mentors and resources after taking my skills, experiences, and interests into consideration. The best take away comes from an anthropology alumnus that I met with in person. She stressed the importance of setting goals for myself and following my intuition.

I would recommend this program to my peers because it makes the post-grad job search less overwhelming. We updated our Linkedin accounts, refined out resumes, met up with alumni mentors, conducted informational interviews, and had mentors review our resumes. Each assignment had an associated deadline. By having doable weekly assignments, you are keeping yourself accountable and allotting time to completing crucial tasks.

Bethelehem Teshome ’17
Anthropology

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Job Ready Bucket List connected me with alumni and volunteers that have been immensely helpful in talking about their careers and helping me to explore my options.

This program not only provides you with feedback on your resume and cover letter from actual professionals and recruiters, but it also provides you with connections to these people that are absolutely invaluable in networking and any job search. I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to build a stronger professional profile and advance their career planning!

Nick Kellerman ’19
Bioengineering

Job Ready Bucket List has made me more confident with my job search by equipping me with the necessary tools to carry out an effective job search. I would recommend this program to other students because will help them get in contact with alumni who impart precious knowledge and advice that helps with future career goals and because it provides an opportunity to improve public speaking, resume writing and interpersonal skills.

Irsa Ashraf ’18
Economics

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This program helped me connect with recruiters and professionals in my field who were able to provide valuable feedback on my resumé, cover letter and personal statement. Employers don’t always provide constructive criticism on the smaller details that may actually be what needs to be changed to land the position.

I would definitely recommend Job Ready Bucket List for students who are interested in compiling a professional portfolio for potential employers. The program really helped me paint a more vivid picture of what steps are needed to secure an opportunity that fits best for me and feel as though other students will feel the same.

Mark Biedlingmaier ’18
Geography and Environmental Studies

The Job Ready Bucket List program encouraged me to consider what I am interested in and then take initiative to strengthen my abilities and skills so that I can come closer to reaching my goals (professional and personal). Through the close guidance and support from various mentor figures, I felt more confidence and excitement about thinking about my life after college. I learned many helpful tips and important strategies throughout the weeks and now I feel prepared to use my major, interests, talents and passions in order to move forward.

I would recommend this program because I know it’s oftentimes overwhelming to think and prepare for the future, and it is difficult to know exactly where or how to start–this program, however, is especially helpful for students who wish to feel confident and compelled to take action, develop skills, create relationships, and gain experience.

Hyangsook (Sookie) Kwak ’18
Sociology and Fine Arts

Through hearing stories from alumni, I developed a better understanding of what their specific professions are really like. They gave me a behind the scenes look and made it easier for me to imagine myself in those different professions and think about whether or not I would be interested in doing what they do.

I think the Life After Degree series is a great program for developing an understanding of the career paths that people choose after studying a specific major at UCLA and the alumni that come to this event are very friendly and helpful. One of the alumni told me that it is very important to take the extra step and put in some extra work at the start of one’s career. Although it may seem like a lot of work at the time without any reward, the reward comes in the long run.

Tina Hou ’20
Linguistics and Computer Science

Looking to further my professional experiences as an undergraduate studying STEM, the Sharpe Fellows program provided key opportunities to learn the nuances of the different fields within business. With direct interaction with mentors, advisors, peers, and firms, I gained valuable career direction that helped crystalize my interest in consulting and technology.

Sharpe provides exclusive opportunities to work with incredible mentors, leaders, students, and companies, streamlining the learning and networking process. Not only does this provide an edge during recruiting, but also builds a reliable personal network to gain guidance for any career concerns you may have. I’ve also made wonderful friends through the program, which is always a plus!

Koto (Stan) Kuboi ’18
Psychobiology

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As a Sharpe Fellow in Consulting, I believe that the program helped me navigate my professional goals by being a platform where I can meet working professionals, seniors who went through the recruiting process and peers who have similar aspirations as I do. My professional mentor is really willing to make time and give me advice, which I greatly appreciate. The seniors that I met through the program also gave me fresh advice on not only recruiting, but also the internship itself. What’s even more impressive to me is that the Sharpe Fellows program coordinators also cater to what our next goals are beyond obtaining the internship offer, as exemplified by an MBA panel that we had. Overall, the Sharpe Fellows program gave me the invaluable opportunity to build relationships with people who were really supportive of my professional goals.

Winny Mulyasasmita ’19
Business Economics and Accounting

The Sharpe Fellows program not only supported me with advice and mentorship from alumni in my desired career field, but it set me up with a network of other current students seeking the same opportunities. My peers in the program all supported each other as we prepared for case interviews, applied for different internships and made final decisions. Having a community of like-minded, compassionate peers who all wanted to support each other’s career aspirations was invaluable to me.

The moment as a Bruin when you start to think about your post-graduate opportunities and feel like you are one in a sea of many can be a daunting one. Sharpe Fellows is a one-of-a-kind program that makes our big university just a little bit smaller, bringing UCLA’s incredibly supportive alumni network close to home. I’m very thankful for all who’ve worked to build such a valuable program.

Rafi Sands ’18
Business Economics and Political Science

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Sharpe Fellows gave me a framework by which to think about my interests, and what I want out of my career. In other words, it gave me formal settings through which I could further understand and shape my goals. Simply put, the program has asked me to truly consider the path I am on and the one I want to take; personally, moments of such consideration have allowed me to find further meaning in my work.

Sharpe Fellows gives you a network of support — from other Sharpe Fellows, to industry mentors, to administrators within UCLA. This type of network can help you grow, and better understand yourself, if you allow it.

Priyanka Nanayakkara ’19
Statistics

Going through the Sharpe Fellows interview process enabled me to connect with like-minded individuals working in investment banking at both the junior and senior levels. These insightful conversations allowed me to find out more about the industry and learn about their experiences, ultimately confirming my interest for the field. This program gave me the invaluable opportunity to build relationships with people who were really supportive of my professional goals.

Besides the guidance from mentors, the Sharpe Fellows program provides a great opportunity to build your professional network. Whether it is industry experts, young alumni or even other Sharpe Fellows in your class, the Sharpe network is one that extends beyond graduation. The program is also a great platform for alumni to stay connected and give back, and I strongly encourage interested students to apply.

Darren Tan ’18
Business Economics and Statistics

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Participating in the Social Enterprise Academy reinforced my desire to work for a company that not only cares about social good but incorporates it into their business model. The program is a great opportunity to enhance your professional development by learning about venture initiation, market research and business plans.

Jazmine Almanza Yi ’18
International Development Studies

Social Enterprise Academy helped me understand how to professionally engage with and help clients by meeting them where they are. I would absolutely recommend Social Enterprise Academy to other students. The program is a great opportunity to help learn more about how Social Entrepreneurship integrates into the economy across industries.

Nicholas Yokubatis ’19
Economics

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Social Enterprise Academy gave me exposure to all the stages of launching a social enterprise. From brainstorming business ideas and conducting market research to building financial projections, I have gained an invaluable set of transferable skills. Through this six-month process, I learned where my strengths and weaknesses lie in a real business setting. I thrive and enjoy in data collection, analysis, and presentation. I like to see tangible outcomes. And learning these aspects about my skill sets and work preferences helped me refine my professional goals and aspirations to incorporate more of these aspects.

This program offers a unique opportunity to pursue a venture in the most creative and realistic sense. It equips students with the tools and resources to put together a revenue-generating business for a mission-minded purpose. By working with my four team members, I got to collaborate with some of the brightest Bruins. The practical applications and the direct social impact makes the Social Enterprise Academy truly one of a kind and I would highly recommend this to my peers.

Lily Hajin Yi ’17
Sociology and Statistics

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