Author: Jennifer West (Exp. ’18) is a senior political science major and digital humanities minor. She is also a data mentor and engagement fellow at UCLA Hillel, a workshop coordinator for the Center of Digital Humanities and a member of Kappa Delta sorority.

There are many formative experiences available to students while in college. Oftentimes the opportunities they take advantage of are the experiences that help students envision the professional they will be after graduating from UCLA. In this piece, senior Bruin Jennifer West reflects on her time as a student intern with the Office of Parent & Family Programs and how this role has not only benefited her professional development, but has also positively affected her family’s connection to UCLA.


I am five weeks away from graduating.  Perhaps I’m feeling a bit (or a lot) sentimental, but when I think back on the formative experiences of my college career, one of the biggest was working as a student intern with Parent and Family Programs (PFP).  Working for this office has helped me grow academically, emotionally, and professionally.

Initially, I never saw myself working for PFP specifically.  Heck, I didn’t even know the office existed until my mom joined the Parents’ Council my freshman year.  Of course, having gone to college only 45 minutes away from home, my initial thought was that Parents’ Council was my mom’s way of smothering me.  I wanted nothing to do with it.

Then, one day during spring quarter, I came down with the flu and a sinus infection all in one day.  I was completely out of commission and feeling absolutely miserable, and I instantly knew I needed my parents.  That morning, my mother called PFP for advice on how I could keep up with my work even though I couldn’t be in class.  Their advice helped me stay afloat that quarter despite my sickness, and I started to realize that week just how important the office is for families that don’t always know the answers to their student’s questions.

The summer after my sophomore year, I decided I wanted a new job on campus.  I had been in a cycle of food service jobs and it was time for me to find a role that would offer me the opportunity to sharpen professional skills my academic coursework didn’t quite address.  My mother, the wise lady she is, suggested I apply to be a PFP intern and I was blessed to work my junior and senior year in this role.

One of the first things PFP’s senior director, Alex Brown, told me when I started working for the office was that she wanted to help me work on the skills I wanted for my future.  She challenged me to look at my work with a critical eye to see where I could improve ease of access for our parents.  I knew I wanted to improve my marketing skills, both in running a professional social media account and crafting cohesive marketing strategies for major projects.  This critical analysis really helped me in terms of user design, which is a field I have now started considering for my future.  I also learned to think in terms of someone like my mother.  I found that, while it is easy to figure out the desires and needs of my peers, there was a unique challenge in situating myself in the mindset of my parents’ demographic. It has distinctly strengthened my marketing skills.


The summer after my sophomore year, I decided I wanted a new job on campus.  I had been in a cycle of food service jobs and it was time for me to find a role that would offer me the opportunity to sharpen professional skills my academic coursework didn’t quite address.  My mother, the wise lady she is, suggested I apply to be a PFP intern and I was blessed to work my junior and senior year in this role.

One of the first things PFP’s senior director, Alex Brown, told me when I started working for the office was that she wanted to help me work on the skills I wanted for my future.  She challenged me to look at my work with a critical eye to see where I could improve ease of access for our parents.  I knew I wanted to improve my marketing skills, both in running a professional social media account and crafting cohesive marketing strategies for major projects.  This critical analysis really helped me in terms of user design, which is a field I have now started considering for my future.  I also learned to think in terms of someone like my mother.  I found that, while it is easy to figure out the desires and needs of my peers, there was a unique challenge in situating myself in the mindset of my parents’ demographic.  It has distinctly strengthened my marketing skills.

I learned to take initiative in this position.  After analyzing previous marketing materials for PFP’s annual Coffee Social Day, I came up with a plan for consistent branding and approached Alex with my ideas.  She included me in a meeting with the Alumni marketing team and empowered me to share my ideas and thoughts, which have now been integrated into our existing Coffee Social Day materials.  It’s so important to work with a team that encourages you to think outside of your daily administrative work, and it’s taught me so much about having confidence in communicating my perspectives with my supervisors.

Beyond marketing skills, the staff has taught me so many necessary skills for a strong resume.  I used to be so insecure using Microsoft Excel, but now I feel completely comfortable marketing myself as skilled in Excel on my job applications.  These skills even helped me get hired at my 2017 summer internship with Princess Cruises.  Working with PFP taught me a lot of web design skills through WordPress, where I was allowed to ownership of building out some of the office webpages.  This has really added to my portfolio and is now a prominent skill on my resume.

Being a student intern has also made me a more adaptive person.  You never know what problem you’re going to face when the phone rings, so you have to be ready to find the answers and remain calm and supportive through it all.  Doing this work has not only helped me feel more comfortable talking to complete strangers, but it also made me a more informed student.  I learned so much about what resources are available and how to be a better advocate for myself through finding the answers for others.  It’s hard to articulate the positive feeling that comes from being a comfort to our Bruin families when they are in need of assistance, but it’s given me so much pride.

Working for Parent and Family Programs has been one of the true lights of my Bruin experience. Had my mother not encouraged me to work at PFP, I would have missed out on so many skills and work experience that will set me up for my future.  Without working here I not only would have less relevant work experience on my résumé, but I also would not have learned so much about myself as an employee.  I know my strengths and my opportunities for improvement and I learned to be more independent, to put in hard work, and to multitask and prioritize my time better so that I can be a strong student and employee.  The transition from a structured school life to work life after graduation is not easy but, because of my time as an intern, I believe that my transition will be much smoother.  I feel so much more prepared for my life ahead and I would 100% recommend to my peers that they work during college in a role like this internship.