When Ran Yang first applied for the Arts Internship Program, she was so nervous she could barely introduce herself. “I was so scared of talking to a stranger and not confident in my English at all back then,” says the recent UBC graduate, who majored in Economics and Statistics. To overcome her fear and improve her communication skills, she spent a summer working at a grocery store, where she gradually became more comfortable interacting with strangers.
After joining the Arts Internship Program on her second attempt, Ran spent eight months interning at the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Area. As a Member Outreach Assistant, she developed skills in graphic design, research, survey creation, and even took on the responsibility of training new interns. She received the Arts Internship Program “Student of the Year” award for her contributions to the organization. “Her thoughtfulness, assessment and evaluation skills, and attention to detail surpassed the organization’s expectations of a student intern, says Freda Maideen from the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers. “Ran demonstrated a high level of professionalism in her work and has done an excellent job at representing MPBIA, the Arts Internship Program, the Faculty of Arts, and UBC in the greater community.”
We asked Ran to share how she overcame her biggest challenges and advice for fellow Arts students.
Hometown: Fujian, China
Program of Study: Economics and Statistics Double Major
UBC Affiliations: Arts Internship Program, AMS eHub
Awards: John Alexander McDonald Scholarship in Humanities, AIP Student of the Year award
Where can we connect with you? You can find me on LinkedIn and Instagram!
How did you choose your academic program?
I didn’t know where to start at first, but I was good at numbers so I took some Math and Economics in my first year. I then found my interest in Statistics but I didn’t want to switch to Science. Fortunately, Arts had a good selection for students like me who are not typical Arts students. I got accepted into the combined major program of Economics and Statistics. In order to take more credits in both fields, I switched to double major program in my third year. It’s never too late to find out what you really want. If you don’t feel the program is right for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to an advisor! There are always options.
What were your biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?
I was rejected by the Arts Internship Program in my first year, because my interviewer did not think my English language skills were quite ready for the internships. I recall shaking in the interview – I could not even do a self-introduction properly. I was so scared of talking to a stranger and not confident in my English at all back then.
To overcome my fear and improve my communication skills, I spent a whole summer at a grocery store working as a sales associate. It might be an ordinary job to many native English speakers, but it was a big step for me to initiate a conversation with strangers. Doing something daily that scares you will make you become comfortable with the uncomfortable little by little. Change doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been working on it for 3 years, and counting…
What internships did you have in the Arts Internship Program? What did you learn from these experiences?
I interned with Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Area (BIA) as a Member Outreach Assistant. The BIA is a bridge between local government and business owners, to make sure their voices are heard and their problems are addressed. I came in as a data clerk, but my role also required me to deliver messages and collect inquiries from our current and potential members. The experiences in Mount Pleasant BIA made me appreciate that I had an interest in interacting with and helping people, which I hadn’t expected!
During the eight months in the BIA, I kept stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging myself to learn new skills. I believe a positive working attitude is the best outfit at work, and I hope to wear it throughout my life.
What are the top three things every UBC Arts student should do before they graduate?
- Explore different disciplines and career paths before you leave school! You never know what really works for you until you try it. I’m not saying GPA doesn’t matter, but don’t sacrifice any opportunities for your GPA.
- Build your network! Utilize the resources provided by Centre for Student Involvement and Careers if you don’t know where to start.
- Embrace different cultures! I know it’s always easy and comfortable to stay with the same group, but there are always amazing people out there who might brighten your world a little bit more.