Photo by Angelica Vega
We want to make your school-to-career process a little easier and we know that some of the best advice comes from your fellow college students. That’s why we’ve tapped our Jopwell U Ambassadors for a little help in this department.
Jopwell U Ambassadors are our team of all-star undergrads who help us spread the word about Jopwell on campuses nationwide. They also help us learn more about students’ needs so we can provide you with the most relevant resources possible. Instead of having you wonder who these behind-the-scenes connectors are, learn more about them in our #JUAHighlightSeries!
Today’s ambassador to meet is Angelica Vega, a Philosophy major at American University. Ahead, she talks about how her love for public libraries has led her to pursue the goal of running for public office.
Interested in learning more about the Ambassador program? Visit our page here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! (What are your passion points, why did you chose your major, what extracurriculars are you a part of etc.,)
I’m currently a senior at American University, majoring in Philosophy with a concentration in Political Thought and Public Health.
I’m very passionate about public libraries and education in the U.S. This passion was sparked when my local school district removed all public-school librarians. I have dedicated a lot of my work to this mission, from my position as an Arts Coordinator at the local Pop-Up Library, to my research project and presentation on the importance of public-school libraries, and even founding my own non-profit organization-A Higher Bridge, which helps high school students in my district prepare for college.
My long-term goal is to run for public office to make sure that all students have equal access to education and public spaces such as public-school libraries.
What has your college experience been like so far?
College has been a life-changing experience. During my time, I’ve held leadership positions in multiple student organizations, started my own non-profit organization, and have won multiple awards and fellowships, such as the Lime Connect Fellowship.
I also made it a priority to enjoy the journey, afterall, college isn’t just about graduation. I am excited to see what the rest of my final year brings, and how the skills I learned during this time help me thrive in my post-grad career.
What factors went into you selecting the American University as your alma mater?
When I was deciding on which school to pursue, I had a couple of factors in mind: geographic location, access to plentiful job opportunities, classroom size and quality of curriculum.
American University (AU) is in the capital hub of the United States, and has a special level of access to the global stage as a result. Washington DC is also known to host a lot of jobs and internship opportunities to students in nearly every major field, which was vital in my decision.
What do you take into consideration when selecting the right opportunity for you?
My mentor once told me, “Don’t focus on the short-term gain, but keep your aim on the long-term goal. Make an effort to know yourself.” Self-reflection really matters when deciding on which opportunities to put your energy into. Not only do a lot of employers require you to put effort in the application but they also want to see genuine passion and interest in them.
When it comes to deciding between which opportunities and internships I might be interested in taking, I would prioritize them based on how much they could benefit my professional career in the long-term. I asked the following questions when deciding to select an opportunity: Is it a legal-related or public service-related opportunity? Does it provide mentorship? Is the work environment aligned with my preferences? Can they help me improve my public speaking and writing skills?
What was the application process for these internships like for you? Any advice you’d give to other students looking to pursue similar opportunities
Throughout my application process, I kept in constant communication with my mentor and my career center for constant resume reviews. Jopwell became one of my lifelines throughout this whole process. The Jopwell U Ambassador Program Manager, Dannielle, set up time for us to practice a couple of key interview questions and shared valuable Jopwell articles to help sharpen my interview skills.
Reflecting on my experience doing these applications, here is the advice I would give to students:
What sort of lessons and connections did you take away from your internship experience?
As a former Public Policy Fellow at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that fights stigma and advances opportunities for people with disabilities, one of the best aspects of the fellowship program was the professional relationships I built. My manager helped me think more critically about what I want to do after American University, encouraging me to take a couple of years to work and then decide if I should pursue an advanced degree.
The connections I built throughout the summer provided me a clearer picture of how I should approach my final year and post-grad opportunities. If you do anything while in an internship or similar opportunity, make its that you build meaningful relationships. Our career journey is not built by just one individual but rather a network of people who care and deeply invest in your life and ambitions.
How has your role as a JUA changed your perspective of the university-to-career process? How do you feel it has/could impact your peers?
Being a JUA changed how I viewed the university-to-career process and how I interacted with my peers. Jopwell showed me that we are not alone in this process and that there are avenues to support my career such as attending events and webinars. The Jopwell U Ambassador Program in particular connected me with other like-minded individuals and inspired me to become a valuable resource to my university peers as well.
I am now helping my friends prepare for their job interviews, edit their resumes to best reflect their talents, and make suggestions on their LinkedIn pages. It’s because of the JUA Program as well as my career center that I can lead my peers in career preparation.