Diving Into the Job Search


Photo credit

Hello! My long absence on WordPress has honestly been a little embarrassing and I apologize for once again jumping ship for way too long. The last two quarters of school I’ve been concentrating on doing well in school and finishing up journalism classes. My final quarter at UCI started Monday.

For the last two weeks I have been organizing my job search. It is nice to have an extra week of Spring Break (it’s my last one ever!) since I managed to finish my finals early. I had some anxiety last quarter about this exact point in my life–the next step for me–and while I knew I should’ve started doing a job search then, I chickened out. Now, there’s no more time to hide: this is it.

I decided that in order to have the most success in my search, I needed to think about organization. I needed to ask myself basic, tough questions, like where should I live, who should I reach out to in my network, who is in said network. I spent a couple of days last week doing a rudimentary brainstorm, writing things down on paper and picturing myself finding something I loved to do. Now, what was that exactly? I thought about my skills. Did I still want to pursue public relations, and what were my motives in that career?

My former boss very kindly offered to chat with me about career strategy. We wrote down our brainstorm on a whiteboard in his office, and seeing it all written down in one place really helped. He also told me a few of his tricks to get noticed by potential employers or key employees, which I thought was very clever. Since our chat I am now updating an Excel spreadsheet regularly with notes on my network and leads, as well as trying to work through daily goals. I am having the teachers who know me best and my former employers write letters of recommendation.

I am now in the process of finding leads on my own and doing company research. It sounds so simple, but in reality I dread it! I would so much rather watch ‘Gilmore Girls.’ Last night I did a preliminary search on a couple of job boards just to write some names down to explore later. This afternoon’s attempt at perusing the Orange County Book of Lists was better. I felt like the list was much more narrow, given the rigorous selection standards of the Orange County Business Journal.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll be back with an update soon. 🙂 How about you? What did it take for you to find your first job? Share your advice in the comments!


Beauty Lies Among the Ruins

Originally published here
Located in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, California, the ruins of Mission San Juan Capistrano are a gem to behold. The 7th of 21 California missions, it was one of the best known Alta California missions. Father Junipero Serra founded the mission on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 1776. Father Serra’s Chapel, built in 1778, is the oldest building in California still in use. Inside the peaceful room, people celebrate mass every morning at 7.

A tiny flower sits on the lip of the fountain in the Sacred Garden, a splash of color in the shadows. Trickling water is the only sound you can hear in the late afternoon.

The Great Stone Church is one of the major draws for sightseers. Construction began in 1797 and took nine years to complete. On December 8, 1812 an earthquake caused the walls and bell tower to collapse during mass. It is fascinating to imagine the grandness of the original structure, as it nearly swallows you up the closer you get to the high ceiling.

Adjacent to the old church sits the Bell Wall. Four bells, two small and two large, tolled at mealtimes and at the passing of San Juan Capistrano residents. The large bells are recast from the bells that were lost during the 1812 earthquake while the small bells date to 1804.

Inside the Central Courtyard, the Mission’s men and women would occupy their time with activities like spinning, weaving and leather crafts. Today it is a resting place for visitors to enjoy the flora and architecture, as well as the koi in the pond.

Esther Williams is a California Impressionist artist who has been painting the Mission for eight years. For 40 years she has been perfecting her craft, and finds the Mission an attractive subject because of its spirituality, historical value, and beauty.

Williams likes to paint the koi at the Moore style Fountain of the Four Evangelists, though she finds it a challenge to capture the light on the canvas with evening approaching. She dips her brush into the white paint to add highlights to the fish and the ripples in her painting before leaving.

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Dear all,

Hello! It has been some time since I last sat down and wrote a Blog. I regret not taking the time to write, because so many special things happened over the summer, and I wish I had kept some sort of record on TURNING THE TIDE. To make up for the all the posts I didn’t write, I’d like to take a moment to tell you a bit about my summer, this blog and myself.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m from NorCal and I’m a literary journalism major at University of California, Irvine. Yes, I’m a writer, borne from my love of reading. I am a freelance writer for two startup companies, and plan to move into public relations this fall. This is my final year of college. I’m really excited to use my potential to do good, but I’m definitely nervous at the same time!

Summer highlights:

– Landed my dream journalism internship at the UCI ANTrepreneur Center. I learned the importance of networking, how to listen and how to talk to anyone. This internship helped me find my first public relations opportunity.

– Went on a backpacking trip with my uncles, in NorCal. Want to read more? Check out my article. 🙂

– Had a great time with my friends at the beach on multiple occasions. Having a car is wonderful!

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When I started this blog, I had trouble pinpointing exactly what interested me and keeping readers engaged. I would write about some pretty random stuff. Then, I branched out into writing prompt style posts, which got a bit more traffic. I think the most recent stage was when I wrote about study abroad in Ireland.

Now, I am going to try something new! My new theme makes my blog pop, and motivates me to write engaging content. There’s something deeply satisfying in straying away from a traditional look. Besides the theme, the content will change. From here on out, the blog will focus on photography, student life, careers and current events. Occasionally I will do a writing prompt if I need the practice. I think my new direction will keep me on my toes, since I’ll need to read the news, search for interesting subjects, etc. That said, I’m going to post at least once a week, on Mondays.

To all my past readers, thanks for reading this post and following my blog. I appreciate your patience, and I’m sorry to have left you hanging this summer! I look forward to seeing what you’re up to and will do my best to maintain a presence here on WordPress.To first time visitors, I hope that we can connect. If one of my posts inspires you, please don’t hesitate to comment on it. I’ll take a look at your blog, too.



On Journalism and Careers


As a student journalist, I have consistently been doing internships in my field since I started college. Looking back, I’d say that the first internship I had triggered my interest in journalism. I was a rookie reporter at the local paper, that’s for sure, but I learned that I liked jotting down notes from interviews and then turning that information into art for the summer. I had the chance to shadow the other reporters and see how they operated. At the same time, my work had a limited audience, given that I lived in a small town most people wouldn’t know about.

My experiences at my first internship helped me do well in my beginning journalism classes at UC Irvine. I felt like I had definitely picked the right major and that I was likely going to be a journalist after college. I continued to do two more journalism internships to get a feel for the career that I felt I’d do well in. Each had a different work environment and set of skills.

Then, sometime during my junior year in college I started Googling careers related to journalism and one of the biggest (and most promising) was a career in public relations. The pay for a public relations specialist was significantly higher than for a journalist (about $15,000 more of a median salary) and it seemed to offer more stability. I thought about it for a while. I’d get to write, edit, help clients and companies make the most of their businesses, work with the press, give speeches…it sounded like a dream.

I kept reading to see what the requirements were. A Bachelor’s in either journalism, communications, or English…check. Internships in journalism…check. Friendly and outgoing personality…check! I remember thinking, “People actually get paid to do what I would love to do every single day. Count me in.”

Since discovering that PR was a viable option for me, I have also gotten to learn skills outside of my field. I applied for a summer job which I actually took in the fall as a food service worker at the campus dining commons, and have started working at the campus library as a Special Collections and Archives Assistant. It’s nice to make a little money, and I think it’s also an excellent strategy for this generation of students–the more skills you have, the more employable you’ll be in the future.

Recently I landed a journalism internship at the UC Irvine ANTrepreneur Center. I think it’ll be a great opportunity to network with entrepreneurs, students, UCI faculty and local businesses. I will be doing plenty of interviewing and writing, and my work should hopefully reach a wider audience.

Choosing to work on campus was also part of my strategy. You can make it yours, too. Just think: if you live on campus or do not have to drive, it’s a win, and you have the opportunity to see your school a little differently. If you’ve admired the place you’d like to work for a while, you can become a part of what makes it great, and then you can become a representative and even raise the standard.

While everything seems to be falling into place, I’m scared. In one year I will no longer be in school. I’ll be on my own. At the moment I want to go to the Career Center to talk about public relations and what I might need to do differently next year. Interning at a p.r. firm seems promising, but I need to look into it more.

For those of you who haven’t started an internship or gotten a job offer during school, I encourage you to sit down and think seriously about your professional and personal goals. Consider your interests, as well. Write them down and put them in a place you can refer to often. Since I’m not an expert in career counseling I will not go any further except to say read a lot. In fact, read something of educational value every day, whether it is a short story, play, newspaper, magazine, etc. Just read, and I guarantee you’ll come upon one of your interests.

Do you have similar career strategies to mine? What advice would you give students or people seeking a career they feel is a smart move for them? Share your thoughts.

Jennifer Jopson: Lessons From Travels Abroad

My guest blog for Jered on Live Declared.

Tired Muscles, Happy Heart


Photo Credit: Bing Images

One of my personal goals is to get into the best shape of my life. I gave myself a year from last month and wrote that I would need to complete a few workout programs and do activities like swimming and hiking to get there. I think it’s a pretty realistic goal and I can’t wait to cross it off my list!

For the past six years of my life I’ve said, “I’m going to get into shape” and then after a week or two I’d give up. I didn’t push myself hard enough at the gym and stuck to wimpy levels on the treadmill. I wasn’t consistent in track and field, either. The first year of college I didn’t exercise properly–super long gaps between workouts to start with, and when I did a workout I started out running on a treadmill and wore down my muscles before doing the machines and strength training. Sophomore year, the latter end, was slightly more promising. I had a workout buddy and made sure to do cardio and strength training weekly. The problem was with my limited workout knowledge, school schedule and occasional laziness. I didn’t have a plan.

I sound like a hopeless case, don’t I? With this goal I mean to see it through. Some realities include *not* running marathons because I don’t like running all that much and not getting a flat stomach. I have a petite, muscular build (like a gymnast), and I am fine with weights and all. My body fat is mostly in my stomach, which I find incredibly annoying. If there were anything I could change, it would be my stomach and abdominal area. The last time I remember having a flat stomach was maybe freshman year of high school. Puberty is not about to reverse itself.

Here’s my plan. I talked with a friend who loves exercising, and she sent me an ab schedule–I told her I needed major work on that area. She has me doing sit ups, crunches, leg lifts and planks. I do push ups, too, since I build muscle fast in my arms and match the number to my sit ups. And it’s kicking my butt. If I didn’t have my rock and metal music, it would be difficult to keep going. The exercises started out easy, because the number was so small, but now I’m doing numbers like 85 and up. I exercise 3-4 days and then take a break, and repeat. I can do these exercises at the gym or at home, which is convenient. Before I start the day’s workout I stretch so I won’t strain my muscles and stretch sometimes during the workout.

When I was in the second week of the program I got headaches (not enough water in my system) which caused exhaustion and minor frustration. Now I have timed my workouts to roughly an hour and then do half an hour of cardio on the free motion machine. In just over a week I’ll be done with the first workout program and will start a new one.

I’m starting to see results from my first workout plan. I don’t feel as tired during my day and my endurance is increasing. My muscles are not constantly sore anymore, either. Also, I don’t feel as embarrassed as I used to when I look at myself in the mirror. Eating healthier is also a part of this, and I am enthusiastic about finding great recipes to help me. I feel relieved that I am actually making this work. The health benefits are awesome!

There’s no turning back. I’m going to complete this goal and then I’m going to Blog about it!

Why Frozen Food is Such a Waste

I’m a college student, which means two things when I think about food: 1) I want it cheap and 2) I want it convenient. (Even better is free food). Last year I bought frozen food at the grocery store, like many college students do. Along with the fruits and veggies I picked up, I’d spend a ridiculous amount of time searching for frozen food that I thought would be edible and quite delicious. Going into it I knew there were plenty of preservatives and ingredient lists that barely fit on the box. But I kept buying it and making a sad face when the food disappeared from my freezer. Then, at the end of the school year I realized I had to start cooking on my own, as my roommate would not be around to cook dinners for me anymore. * It wasn’t like I had never cooked before–I could follow recipes and I usually didn’t burn food. My parents had me make dinner at home many times. I felt fairly confident in my abilities. All I needed was a cookbook.

Back in my pathetic frozen food days, I was a snob for sure. But I paid for my snobbery, and here’s why.


Home cooked food is generally healthier for you than frozen food.

This one is just common sense. There is usually a lot of salt packed into the food and enough preservatives to kill a small animal. When you cook at home, you control the ingredients that go into a recipe–you can modify a recipe to fit your lifestyle and the nutritional value is higher.

It brings out your creativity.

Frozen food is lame because all you have to do is tear open the box and heat up your food in the microwave. You’re not doing anything cognitive. However, cooking is awesome because you can substitute ingredients and learn how to make complicated meals. You can garnish your food and plate with sauces, herbs and fruit for special occasions or otherwise. If you want to learn to make a certain style of food, you can. Yesterday I noticed I had a bunch of chicken broth to use up, so I glanced at the recipe on the back of the container and saw that I had most of the ingredients already. To make new yummy food, think about what’s in your refrigerator now.

You end up saving money.

I used to think paying $5-8 for two meals in the frozen food section was a real deal. But it’s really only two meals. When you cook a meal that serves four people and you’re feeding only yourself, you might spend $15-20 depending on the recipe. The payoff comes when you store the leftovers and realize you have enough for six meals and not four.

You save time.

Think about the time you spend selecting frozen food items. Then think about the time you could spend checking ingredients off your list as you walk through the grocery store. if you know what you need already, chances are you can find it quickly. Also, when you make a bunch of meals in advance at home, that’s time you don’t have to spend shopping or cooking.

You can store your homemade food in the freezer, and it will last for months.

This is a great advantage! As long as you place your food in freezer-safe containers or Ziploc bags and store it properly, you can enjoy a meal you made several weeks later.

You can impress people with your skills.

Invite people over when you hone a recipe. Eating is a very social activity, and not many people will turn you down if the food is hot and mouth-watering. They will probably ask you how to make it or what your secret is.

Home cooked food tastes so much better!

Of course it does. After the first time you try a frozen entrĂ©e, it loses its magic. The food you make yourself, though, doesn’t get old as easily.


You may get tired of lunch.

This is true. I need to get more creative at lunchtime, because I either eat leftovers from dinner or make a sandwich. It’s all for the sake of saving money. The goal is not to starve yourself, so try light entrĂ©es.

You may have to make two trips to the store in a week.

The grocery store depresses me because it is expensive. But hey, you might get some good exercise in.

You will learn something new whether you like it or not.

Patience is one thing I have learned from cooking on my own. The dish might not taste fantastic the first time you make it, and the time you need to cook something will vary. Also, learning to prep food in a quick and efficient way is beneficial.

Ultimately, frozen food can’t win over home cooked goodness. You will be healthier and a lot less dissatisfied with your food if you take the time to cook. Two cookbooks I recommend for college students (and anyone!) are How To Cook Everything-The Basics by Mark Bittman and the Taste of Home Cookbook 3rd Edition.

*This is VERY rare for a roommate to do. I fully appreciated every meal Vanessa cooked for my roommates and me. The thing is, she liked to cook for us!

Lofty Ambitions? Let’s Avoid That.

“The question used to be “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and now it’s “what are you going to be when you graduate?” The future was always far away, and now it’s at our feet. And that is so, so scary. But empowering”–Sarah Gray Isenberg

believeMy friend, Sarah, posted this last night on Facebook, and I couldn’t help but think about it. Check out her Blog here, she’s an excellent writer and is a hard worker. She inspires me to follow her example and to stay determined even when the bleak moments come in.

Building on this quote, I want to say that I have my own insecurities when it comes to planning “post college” life. Really, where am I going to be in just about 2.5 short years? Am I going to have regrets about what I chose to do for a living? Will I even have a job lined up right after graduation?

Romanticizing the future is all too easy. At the same time, it’s also dangerous. What we think we will do and what we actually end up doing are usually two very different things. It’s time to think realistically.

There are a few things that I know for certain, that I think shine in my favor. 1) I have a high school diploma. 2) I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree. I will get my diploma if it kills me. UC Irvine might be putting a dent in my bank account, but I don’t plan on quitting. 3) I know that there is more than holding the diploma in my eager hands someday, it’s about how I apply the skills I learned in college to other sectors. 4) Though I haven’t had to start paying my “own bills” (a.k.a pay for things with my own money), I am developing a responsible attitude about money. It’s simple–I want to stay within my means and save money throughout my life.

In this economy, it is imperative for me to make wise choices regarding my education and lifestyle. Graduation is not far off, and that gets me thinking about careers. In preparation for becoming a journalist, I have interned at a metro newspaper and am now interning for San Clemente Patch. I am also going to start writing for UCI’s New University next quarter. I assume that I’ll be doing more work as an intern and then maybe find writing jobs on Craigslist while still writing for NewU. I still see potential to land writing jobs without having to live with pain of doing something that I really hate. I also see most writing jobs being tied closely to the Internet. But I also am preparing to apply for jobs outside the writing category, jobs that maybe aren’t glamorous or what I always thought I’d be doing. No matter where I end up, I will not let my pride get too far ahead of me. A job is a job. I might not stay with that one particular job, but it doesn’t mean I need to complain about what I don’t have.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Daily Prompt: Kick It| Mission Accomplished

What’s the 11th item on your bucket list?

Jen’s Bucket List reads, 11) Fall in love

It started out with a jazz song. I sat in a gray Eddie Bauer fold up chair in a tiny dorm room and listened with ease. Why was I here? I asked myself. I closed my eyes and took in that song, and then the next song, too. The Audio Technica headphones were doing their job. I felt like a whole new world of music I had never discovered was slowly revealing itself. I hadn’t listened to a lot of jazz in my life, and I didn’t know how to distinguish between the “good” and the “bad.” All of this was good.

We couldn’t stop talking. The night was young, but we were so alive. Music preferences were shared, music played on a laptop behind us on the desk. We asked questions, we laughed, we looked into each other’s eyes. Later we sang along with our favorite songs on YouTube, and we noticed that there were a lot of similarities in the music we knew. Side by side, voices in sync. I spent seven hours getting to know him through the music.

Do I say it? flashed through my mind. When the music stopped, I said, “That was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.” I meant it, and I wanted him to know it. My eyes were bright and I wore a nervous smile on my face. He agreed with me, and I left with a final thought: I like him.

We’ve been together ever since.

This was my beginning, eight months ago.

For a little about me, I had always had crushes on guys since the first grade, just like any normal teenage girl. I just never really “dated.” Ironically, I gave love advice to my friends who had boyfriends. And then he came along, thanks to all of our friends at school.


Keith makes my world brighter. We continue to share music–it helps remind us how we came together.


To me, love is the feeling of peace and warmness when you’re with him. You’re comfortable in your own skin. It’s the knowledge in your mind that you are the one person he wants to protect and cherish. Loving this person means being there for the wonderful times and also being there for the tough times, too.