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Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Need to Know | 0 comments

How I won my scholarship

How I won my scholarship


How did you win your scholarship?

Dear Kristy,

Before I won my scholarship, I applied for lots of other scholarships. I often say that I applied to more scholarships than I did to transfer schools. As a minority student, advisors often told me to look for scholarships that would relate to me or to my major. I honestly think that I searched: ‘scholarships for student who can’t pay for college at all’ or something like that and on a college website I found a list where the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) program was mentioned.

A funny thing is that I originally thought that it was more of  a merit/recognition award rather than a full-ride scholarship. It was not until I already won the scholarship that I truly found out about the magnitude of this award. I learned about GMS around the end of November and the application was due in mid-January, so I had some time to look at the questions and read all the requirements.

I worked on some of the essays during the winter break and once I got back to school I asked for the letters of recommendation, a school nomination and a recommendation from a professor.

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I had almost everything ready about three days before it was due except one essay, which wanted me to explain a difficult situation in my life. I knew what I wanted to write about but it was difficult for me to actually sit down and write it. It was not until the day before the due day, when I had some time between classes, that I sat down in the library’s second floor computer lab and finished the last essay in less than 30 min. I think it was one of the fastest essays I have written. Ms. Athena from the Writing Studio helped me revise it and it was finished.

I went over the application like 100 times. After a lot of double-checks and prayers, I submitted it that night. As soon as I submitted the application, I had a little nervous breakdown because I got two emails from GMS, one saying my app was completed and another saying that an item was missing. So I freaked out and called the help desk in California and a lady told me that she could see my completed application and that I could disregard the other email.

Some months later, on March 7, I got a memorandum saying I had been selected as a finalist. A month after that, I went to pick-up the mail before leaving for school and found a huge envelope from GMS and the first thing it said was Congratulations! I immediately knew that it was something good. Like I mentioned, I didn’t really know the magnitude of the award so I wasn’t celebrating just yet. It was not until I saw my advisors who were super happy and some of my professors telling me that it was a full-ride scholarship that I started to go crazy. I did more research and then I really lost it! I was skipping all over the place for like a month.

Follow Maria at #AskMaria

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Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Need to Know | 1 comment

Internships: The Good, the Bad, and How to Survive Them

Internships: The Good, the Bad, and How to Survive Them

The good things about internships are the experience the intern gains, the contacts he or she establishes and getting their “foot-in-the-door” of a company or career.

It is important to keep in mind that experience is not acquired through just showing up and being there. A lot of students get this wrong. They think internships are like an easy class where attendance is all that’s needed to pass. Instead, experience is gained through completing tasks, getting problems fixed, learning from mistakes and always having a “What else can I help you with?” attitude. This will give you a solid reputation of a dependable person who wants to learn and is not wasting time. And will get you noticed by your boss in a positive way.

Internships are the greatest thing someone though of one day when they needed help with their job but could not afford to pay anyone, so they though: “I’ll get an intern!” This pretty much sums up the bad-side of internships, most are unpaid and require the intern to follow orders and do all kinds of tasks for the person in charge. The work, most of the time, is not as fabulous as you might have thought. There is a lot of weird task that will make you question whether you will learn anything useful. The first lesson is: through understanding what is asked of you and doing it well, following orders per say, you are already learning. That being said, there are some awesome internships out there that are paid, some offer a scholarship or stipend at the end of the internship and some even offer living accommodations if they are in another city. It is very important to look for them, do your research, apply early, and apply to more than one.

So how can interns survive their internships?

  1. Be ready for anything. One of my friends had an internship in the US House of Representatives and he did everything from answering phone calls, to running errands around town, even attending a prestigious gala with foreign heads of state.
  2. Look sharp and like you belong there. Just because you’re the intern doesn’t mean you can’t dress up. Whether you are in an office, a lab, a hospital, or even out in the field, look professional by wearing a nice outfit and following the dress code. I o recommend however to have comfortable shoes because I’ve found that there is some running involved in the life of an intern.
  3. Write notes. Always show up with a notebook and a pen and write notes on what you’re learning. This can be your kind of internship journal where you can keep important things such as codes, addresses, phone numbers, the WIFI passwords, or even how your boss takes his/her coffee.
  4. Make friends. Nowadays, contacts are very important. Networking is essential so make sure you learn and make friends as well.
  5. Pay attention to detail. Doing a good job means going the extra mile. Understanding the importance of details is what will get you noticed because your boss will remember them and remember you.

Follow Maria at #AskMaria

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Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Academics | 0 comments

Choosing a Major

Choosing a Major

 

How did you know what to major in? I am still young and unsure of what I want to do in life.

Dear Tin,

I decided on International Relations because I have been intrigued by the political relations between foreign countries and I like to stay informed on current international events. I also decided on this major because it encompasses a couple of my interests like history, government, social studies, and communication.

Now, do not think that deciding on a career is easy. It is meant to be difficult; it is a very big decision to make. I understand if you are feeling pressured or anxiety over what to do with your life. I felt that way too.

One of the things you can do is look at careers rather than majors. If you are interested in a particular profession that might help you decide on a major that is appropriate. SPC Career Services is there to help you. Do not be shy to make an appointment with one of the career specialists and be sincere and eager to explore what is out there. They can help you explore different professions and aid you with your decision.

One of the best ways to know if what you are choosing is the right path for you is to explore it while you are in college. I was part of Student Government and joined SPC’s Model UN team. My experiences with these student organizations directed me to become more passionate of government and international relations which aided me in my decision for my major.

Follow Maria at #AskMaria.

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Posted by on Jul 1, 2014 in Student Life | 4 comments

Internship at Ecuadorian Embassy

Internship at Ecuadorian Embassy

For a college student, summer time should not be wasted. As I have mentioned before, whether taking summer classes, getting a summer job, a second job, or most ideally, an internship, a college student should constantly look at opportunities to continue his/her education and to make the most of their college experience. Internships are very important for this endeavor and for furthering one’s career goals. After all, getting a job with no previous experience is rather difficult.

This summer I will be interning in the Ambassador’s Office at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Washington, D.C. I came upon this opportunity in a peculiar way. I follow the ambassador and her office through Twitter and one day I tweeted to her office regarding possible internships opportunities. She responded back with the contact information to apply. I sent all my information: resume, letter of recommendation, transcript information, and even a writing sample, and a week later got a call to come in for an interview. Through this experience I learned to never underestimate social media ever again and that opportunities can come in all formats. Nevertheless, internships can also be found and attained in more traditional ways: fliers in a bulletin board, career events at the college, by recommendation of professors, by looking at an office, person or company’s website, or even by knowing someone.

Keep in mind that it is always good to apply to every option possible. Don’t just apply to the internship you want. Apply to many and all that spark your interest. Also, internships are kind of like school in many ways. They involve lots of hard work and even some sacrifice. Just because you’re the intern doesn’t mean you can slack off. On the contrary, because you are the intern you must work harder to start developing your career.

In my internship, I do all kinds of jobs. I work directly at the Ambassador’s Office so I get to see what’s going on at all the other offices in the embassy. I make copies, distribute mail, organize the office, answer emails and calls, welcome visitors and learn about diplomatic protocol. I’ve also had the privilege to interact with diplomats, other embassies, other federal offices such as the State Department and even the White House. In other words, it’s hard work but the compensation is well worth it.  At the end, remember you are just starting off and there is lots more to come for you and your career both in college and in the workforce.

If you have any questions regarding college, student life or anything else in between, feel free to send me your questions!

Follow Maria at #AskMaria

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