The biggest piece of advice about career choices I would give to all students is don’t be afraid to trust your gut, even if it means trying new things.
As a first-generation college student, this was a hard lesson for me to learn as my family and community had such a high expectation of success for me.
When I started college, everyone (even my high school teachers) told me that I should pursue a career as a lobbyist or work on political campaigns. I didn’t even know what that really meant, but I said to myself, “Why not try this career direction?” Before I knew it, I entered my freshman year as a political science major.
I immediately got involved in student government on the ASUCD External Affairs Commission, and during the fall of my sophomore year I was elected to the ASUCD Senate.
Student government taught leadership skills
My time as a senator taught me critical skills in leadership, teamwork and patience that I never would have learned through any college course. However, I also realized politics wasn’t for me. It took a while for me to accept that, and I was afraid that I would let my education and everything that I’ve worked for go to waste.
Though I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career, I knew I wanted to do work that brought people together from different backgrounds. I chose to focus the remainder of my senate term leading initiatives for the ASUCD Scholarship, for which I co-founded the annual Stride for Aggie Pride 5K and led campus-wide efforts for the UC Promise for Education campaign.
Found path through UCDC internship
The summer after my junior year, I was selected to participate in the Washington Program [the UC Davis program that recruits campus students to prepare for internships in Washington, D.C., administered through the University of California-wide UCDC.]
I was awarded a Robert T. Matsui - UC Fellowship. I spent the most incredible three months of my life living and interning in our nation’s capital.
I worked on the Development and External Affairs team at the Meridian International Center, a nonprofit global leadership organization. I took part in organizing luncheons for prestigious international leaders in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Through that experience, I finally felt like I had found what I was looking for: a career with an international flavor that focused on engaging people from various backgrounds in education and service.
Going into my senior year, I realized that I had uncovered new passions for people, education and service through my experiences in ASUCD and the Washington Center, and I wanted to pursue a career that would merge the best of both worlds.
Making an impact as community engagement specialist
I graduated from UC Davis in 2015 with a double major in political science and communication, with double minors in professional writing and global and international studies. I am now the community engagement specialist at Global Glimpse, a nonprofit global education, leadership and service learning program that brings together high school youth from diverse backgrounds through travel.
In my role at Global Glimpse, I’ve been exposed to all facets of a growing nonprofit. My work today encompasses grant writing, strategic communications, event planning, social media, press outreach, board management, corporate partnership strategy and traveling abroad to work on marketing for my nonprofit.
Most importantly, I feel like the work I’m doing is making an impact. I learned one big lesson in college: Don’t be afraid to do what inspires, motivates and fulfills you.
Felicia Ong ’15 is a community engagement specialist for Global Glimpse. She was a double major in political science and communication, with double minors in professional writing and global and international studies.