Spotlight – Ms. Yazdani

Anshul Rajwanshi

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How did you become a college and career counselor at Cupertino?

I was living in Southern California. I grew up there and lived there my whole life. In August of 2016, my fiance was offered a job here at Apple, so we decided to move to Northern California. When we came here, I saw a posting for college and career advising position, the same work I was doing in Southern California.

How did you start college and career counseling in the first place?

My last year of college I decided that I needed to get internships to prepare for my field. I knew I wanted to work in education but was not sure exactly what I wanted to do. I took a position as a paid intern as a college aide at a high school in Long Beach. I worked with disabled students and helped them with work experience. I was a job coach, and I made sure that they were performing their job duties correctly, taught them how to work in a job efficiently and how to be independent in their community. For example, they learned how to take the bus, how to get around and still be OK even though they have a disability. In that position as a college aide, I also worked in the college and career center, helping students with their college applications and financial aid and things like that. I realized that it was so rewarding to me to be able to help students doing college applications and financial aid applications, knowing that I was helping them with their future and helping them reach their goals one day, especially since they did not have their parents to help them with this type of stuff. It was very rewarding every single day. So, I knew that that was the field that I wanted to continue with. So after that, I became a full-time job developer where I continued to work with students with disabilities in college and career settings. Then, I became a full-time college and career advisor for Whittier Union High School District and El Rancho Unified in Whittier. That is kind how I fell in love with the field: by having that one internship and getting that experience with kids.

How would you describe your day-to-day job?

It is providing a lot of support to specifically seniors, but also any student that comes in here seeking college and career advice. I make sure that I am posting opportunities for students such as summer internships, summer programs and part-time jobs. I also pass along all that information to students so that they make themselves competitive for college. I help students on their college applications, read their essays and give them feedback. Furthermore, I help them with financial aid and then providing college and career workshops for students. Specifically, in senior year, I make sure that students feel confident going into their post-secondary plans. I provide resources to juniors by giving them workshops, helping students with resume/interview practice and then the behind the scenes stuff such as planning the career fair, sending emails, making sure that I am communicating with staff and organizing transcripts and mid-year reports.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

I think the most enjoyable part is helping the students. I am helping guide them and helping them reach their goals and accomplishments. The exciting part is hearing those decisions, and knowing that I even had such a small part of that process makes me feel really happy.

Any advice for the seniors that are currently receiving admissions results?

I would say a lot of students tend to be hard on themselves when they do not get into their dream school, or they put a lot of pressure on themselves to get into those Ivy League schools. I would just say that as long as you are motivated and a driven person and you are a hard worker and have good work ethic, it does not matter where you go. Wherever you end up going, you will be OK as long as you have those skills and those qualities and you are a good person, are passionate and love what you do.

Any advice for the juniors just starting out?

I am going to have a junior workshop just designed for them to make sure that they know what they are getting themselves into and they know what to prepare for. Some mistakes I have seen in the past couple years, and I want to make sure that I tell them so they can avoid making those mistakes. And I think it is so crucial that students check their emails. You guys probably get an influx of emails from staff and teachers and whatnot, but a lot of the times that is how I can communicate with you guys. I do not want people to not get into a school because they forgot to send in their ACT scores on time or because they missed a deadline, or they did not know about the scholarship because they never checked their email.

What do students often misunderstand about the college application process?

I think sometimes students get very focused on their grades and test scores and think if they did not get a 36 on the ACT, they are not going to get into school, but a lot of the private schools and all of the UCs look at students holistically. So I think that is something that is forgotten about and people look past that is that it is not just about your test scores and your grades. They want to know that you are a good person. They want to know that you are going to be able to contribute to the college campus in some way. You are still competitive, and you still have a good chance of getting into a school.

How do you think the career fair went?

I think it went very well. Having career awareness on the campus at such a big event like this is so great and cool. I sat in on a cyber security presentation, and I just really loved it. I love how much detail the professionals go into about their careers and how they tell students the pathway to get there, because that can also be confusing. I think it went well, and I hope everyone enjoyed it.

Anything else?

I have been enjoying my experience here, and I thank not only the student body but also everyone else for being so great. Specifically, I would like to thank the students for being such stellar students and being so motivated and on top of things. That has honestly made my job easy because of how determined and driven you all are. I do not have to call you in 10 times to remind you to do something which I have had to do in the past. You guys are on it, and you inspired me. I appreciate that because I think all of you have made me want to go out and do more volunteer work and community service. I see how much you guys do, and I want to do more. They are doing it, and they are so young, and I should also be doing it, and so I thank you guys for helping me get inspired.

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