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My first impressions of my international internship at UCSB by Christin

June 29, 2010
I did it – I finally arrived.  My internship dream came true → in Santa Barbara, California! My name is Christin and I am an international student from Germany and I will complete an internship at Career Services (CS) for the next eight weeks.  Coming to California was my biggest source of motivation to persevere through the stressful last trimester at my university in Germany. Receiving the acceptance email for the internship by Micael Kemp, the director of the Career Services Center, gave me incredible energy and put me in good spirits for during my strenuous testing weeks. But this acceptance into the program was only the first step.

Before you are able to start an internship in the United States, you need a high degree of organizational ability and endurance. The J1 visa is the key to happiness – but in fact it isn’t easy to get.  You must fill out countless questionnaires, pose for terrible pictures (in a style similar to a mug shot) and secure an appointment at the American Consulate as well as pass an interview there.

After weeks of preparation, you finally hold the letter from the U.S. Consulate with the visa sticker in the passport in your hand and know that there is nothing that stands in the way of an eight week internship in the most beautiful state in the U.S., you can now indulge in the feeling of happiness. But because of my stressful examinations, the last few weeks in Germany flew by so I couldn’t enjoy the pleasant anticipation of it properly. 😦

After a 40 hour (!) trip, my boyfriend and I flew past the volcano in Iceland and had an overnight stay in the New York airport, we finally arrived, stressed but happy here in Santa Barbara greeted by beautiful weather on May 12. Before beginning my internship, my boyfriend accompanied me for the first three weeks of this adventure – traveling throughout California. We drove up to north on the legendary Highway 101, visiting Santa Cruz, Mendocino, San Francisco, Eureka, Redwood State Park and then headed south through Sacramento, Las Vegas, Death Valley and the unimaginable Grand Canyon–and had an great amount of fun doing it.

On my first (working) day in the Career Services Center, I had equally as much fun. I was pretty excited in anticipation of everything to come. Precisely on that day, there was a farewell-party held for a career peer advisors with a big bouncy castle. 🙂 The warm welcome of the staff of the CS took away my queasy feeling and increased my well being. My decision to complete this internship at this great university and become a member of this fantastic team was the right one.

The first day was very relaxed. First, Teresa showed me around and introduced me to her colleagues; some I knew already from emails, as Micael, Jo Ann Salvador – my nice supervisor and the head of the Career Resource Room (CRR) and Diego, the Events Coordinator.  From my first impressions, the CRR is the main source of contact for the students, the first step in determining the next part of action. Jo Ann gave me an overview of the premises of CS and all the equipment and the supplies here.  After that we went to fetch Tristan, the adorable baby boy of Jo Ann, and got six huge pizzas and brownies from Costco. So everything and everyone was ready for the “End of the Year” party with the big bounce house. I got the chance to get to know each team-member better–they are all pretty nice and calm! After some good conversations, slices of pizza as well as delicious fresh fruit, I went home full and happy. I think it was the best first day you could have in a new working environment

During the first week I got to know a lot about the programs operated by CS, including GauchoLink and the brand-new one, Focus 2, which I want to describe shortly. GauchoLink is a helpful database, an important tool for students to find a job or internship, on-campus or off-campus. Focus 2 is a new resource which will be available in Fall and serves as an online, interactive career education planning system that combines self assessment, career exploration and decision making into one comprehensive program. It will help students map out a career path and select the right major area of study to support their career goals. To test this program, I filled out an online personality and interest profile, of which I figure out a lot about myself and my professional interests. Additionally I also took part in team meetings, the procedure of which was very interesting to me. It is like a creative exchange of ideas between all staff members.

Overall, I got a good first impression in my first week of how a typical day in the CRR runs and saw that the CRR is a great support for UCSB students. The Career Services staff and peer advisors have been very welcoming, friendly and helpful. My supervisor Jo Ann always takes care of me. She drew up my schedule for the next eight weeks while I’m here. During these weeks there will be a lot of information to study and I will try to let you know about these new things I am learning here at Career Services.

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