Classrooms to Careers: A Student Success StoryJanuary 23, 2019
Classrooms to Careers: A Student Success Story
Senior Megan Anaya’s internship in Fall 2018 with Centro CHA has not only helped her solidify her career goals but was also central to the completion of the first ever Long Beach Latino Economic Impact Analysis. As a research intern, Megan compiled an extensive employment database for use in mapping the extraordinary economic contributions made by Long Beach’s Latino Community. This is the first time the city has created an economic profile and examined economic impact for a specific ethnic group. Results of Megan’s analyses were presented at the Latino Economic Summit held in November 2018 and will be used by the city as a model for examining the impact of other ethnic groups.
As noted by her mentor and internship supervisor Dr. Seiji Steimetz, Chair of Economics at CSULB, “Megan exemplified how classroom learning can be used to solve real-world problems. It was so rewarding to watch her convert massive amounts of raw data into concise and tractable results for use in policy analysis and decision making. It was equally rewarding to watch her grow intellectually and professionally in the process.” As noted by Dr. Steimetz, private consulting firms typically charge thousands of dollars for the quality and complexity of work that Megan contributed.
From this experience, Megan gained an in-depth, hands on, unique experience of what she can do with her Economics degree. “I got to see 3 – 4 projects from start to finish and see the impact that my work has. You don’t get that in a classroom.” This internship has solidified her interest in the field and has confirmed her goal to pursue a Master’s in Economics. “You don’t really see a lot of women, especially ethnically diverse women in this field. I am able to represent women and my ethnic background – I’m Mexican and I want to increase the representation of Latinos in this field.”
Megan credits much of her success at her internship to her mentors Dr. Steimetz, Dr. Juan Benitez (Executive Director of the Center for Community Engagement at CSULB), and Jessica Quintana, Executive Director of Centro CHA. As an intern, Megan also had the opportunity network with other university professors, community professionals, and council members. Megan notes that networking with professionals and making a positive impression has already resulted in potential employment opportunities. “I was able to meet and network with Rex Richardson, a Long Beach council member, and he has already discussed the potential of bringing me on to work on policy analysis after my spring graduation. I also got to meet Michelle Molina and received really helpful career advice.”
Megan learned other important lessons at her internship. She realized that in order to thrive in a professional environment, soft skills are just as important as the technical skills. “The most important skills to have are communication skills. [As an intern] it was necessary to be able to communicate with the team, do presentations, and provide feedback to others. It’s a lot different than the classroom setting. Learning how to communicate effectively was an important skill I learned through this internship.”
What advice does Megan have for students about internships? “Do an internship if you can. It will test you in ways that won’t get tested in the classroom. It will help you develop interpersonal skills, communication skills, [a better] understanding about professionalism, and how to be dependable. It’s a different world from school and the internship will help you be ready for it.”