Dublin High School Alum Vivian Huang: Graduating San Diego State University and Entering the Real World
Dublin High School Class of 2011 and San Diego State University Class of 2014 alum Vivian Huang shares her story as the latest entry in OneDublin.org’s Life After College Series. Vivian managed to graduate early, land multiple internships and a job after graduating, while enjoying a full college experience.
OneDublin.org: What led you to select San Diego State University for college? What is life like going to school in San Diego?
Vivian Huang: “Originally, my plan was to go out of state for school. But at 18, despite wanting independence and freedom, I came to realize that I wasn’t completely ready to be thousands of miles away from family, specifically my younger sister, whom I’m very close with.
“Once I decided to stay in California for school, the decision was easy. San Diego was the perfect culmination of great weather, beaches and academics. Plus, it was far enough for me to embark on my journey of self-discovery but close enough for me to go home on a whim. Between UCSD and SDSU, I ended up choosing SDSU because they offered a broader range of studies and I wanted to have a fully immersive educational experience.”
OneDublin.org: There are many stories of students who struggle to complete their degrees in four years. What advice do you have to stay on track?
Huang: “Like most things in life, it’s important to go to college with a plan. I’m lucky, I guess, to have always been a little obsessive compulsive when it comes to organizing my life. I went into school determined to graduate in just 3 years so that I could have ample time getting some work experience in before applying to grad school. In order to achieve this goal, I mapped out my semesters over the course of 3 years and adjusted as needed.
“While it’s unrealistic for everyone to be that prepared, it’s still good to have a general idea of what classes you want to take and when they are offered. For students going in undeclared, you can still plan out your GE schedules and pre-rec’s. For students who have trouble getting the classes that they need, become an expert at crashing courses. Email the professor early or talk to them after class. Show up every day because people are guaranteed to drop courses within the first couples of weeks.
“Contrary to popular belief, it’s definitely possible to graduate early or on time and still have a thriving social life and college experience.”
OneDublin.org: There are a lot of stereotypes about fraternities and sororities. How did being part of a sorority enhance your college experience? Did the experience bust any myths about sorority life?
Huang: “It’s funny because most people who knew me well in high school would be surprised to find that I joined a Panhellenic sorority. I didn’t fit the stereotype, and I still don’t. I went through recruitment after being persuaded by my floormates with no actual intention of joining a sorority after the process. As cheesy as it is, once I met the girls in Delta Zeta, I knew that it was where I belonged.
“While I still had reservations after accepting my invitation, I came to find that being Greek opened up new doors. In a sea of 35,000+ students, the campus suddenly grew smaller. I made friends not only with the girls in my chapter, but with other Panhellenic sororities, IFC fraternities and multi-cultural fraternities and sororities.
“Having been involved in student government since elementary school, Delta Zeta gave me another chance to excel as a leader. I worked my way from being a minor executive board member to Vice President of Membership to heading several important committees. On campus, I got involved in philanthropy events, intramurals, founded the Fraternal Values Society and even snagged a job thanks to sisters offering recommendations.
“With every organization, there are the top 10%, those who go above and beyond to help their organization excel. Then there’s the middle who may go above the minimum here and there, but don’t necessarily make the organization a priority. Lastly, there’s the bottom 10% who just don’t care their negative actions directly impact the public’s perception of the organization. Unfortunately, these are the members of the Greek community that the media tends to highlight, thus creating the stigma that Greek life is bad, which isn’t the case at all.
“When you become part of the Greek community, you become part of something greater than yourself. I like to think that Delta Zeta had a hand in shaping the person I am today because I feel an inclination to always be the best version of myself so that I can be a good representation of our organization and change people’s perceptions about what Greeks are really like.”
OneDublin.org: As a graduate in the 21st century, what have you learned about using social media to promote yourself and your capabilities?
Huang: “Each social media platform serves a different purpose. When it comes to managing your relationship with the public, Twitter is by far my favorite social tool. Whereas Facebook is too personal and LinkedIn is too formal, Twitter is a great way to connect or reach out to like-minded individuals.
“A good Twesume (your Twitter bio) reflecting your personality and interests is a great way to showcase who you are outside of your resume. The people you follow on Twitter give an indication of what kind of media you value and the people who follow you give an indication of what you have authority over. Since I work in social media and publicity, I’m often tweeting relevant articles from AdWeek or PR Daily that offer insight on those industries. You can also find me joining in on Twitter chats that are relevant to the industry. In addition, I run my own music and lifestyle blog so I’ll promote my content on Twitter to reach a broader audience. By tailoring my Tweets, I’m letting everyone (including potential employers) know what my passions are and what I’m good at.”
OneDublin.org: How did you settle on your major in journalism?
Huang: “I chose to study journalism since public relations was an emphasis that SDSU’s School of Journalism & Media Studies offered. My original plan back in high school was to study business and then go to law school and pursue a business law degree. But after talking to Mr. Sbranti after leadership class one day, he suggested I look into public relations since it was something he thought that I would be good at. Heeding his words, I looked into what exactly a public relations practitioner does, fell in love with it and the rest was history. I got pretty lucky that SDSU just happened to have one of the top 10 public relations programs in the country and was the best program on the West Coast.”
OneDublin.org: What role did Dublin High School play in helping you succeed in college?
Huang: “Once I started taking college courses and saw classmates struggle with things that I thought was a breeze, I became ever grateful for the advanced curriculum I received at Dublin High. The AP classes I took not only gave me nearly a year of college credit, but also made me feel prepared to thrive in a college environment. Unlike high school, college professors don’t have the time to offer as much one-on-one guidance through coursework so I was glad that I took advantage of the accessibility of my teachers at DHS while I still had a chance.”
OneDublin.org: What role did internships play as part of your college experience? What key lessons did you learn about “the real world” and yourself from internships?
Huang: “Over the course of three years, I had four different internships, each with a varying degree of responsibilities. Each internship taught me how to take the elements I was learning in class and use them critically to yield results. Having the internship experiences not only helped me in landing jobs, but also gave me insight into what it would be like day-to-day in the real world. Because all of my internships offered me hands on experience where I could dictate plans and strategies, I felt confident in jumping in after graduation and being a real adult.”
OneDublin.org: What advice do you have for students looking to land internships, especially their first internship?
Huang: “When it comes to internships, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Even if you don’t have any prior internship or work experience, you can still land a good gig. Use examples from other personal experiences to show potential employers that you have the skill sets that they seek. Be passionate about the position you are applying for and be knowledgeable of the industry and the company before you go in for an interview.”
OneDublin.org: How did you secure your first full-time job? How did internships prepare you for a full-time job and life after college? Describe a day in the office.
Huang: “I got hired for a position right after graduation because I went in prepared. While most people were enjoying being a second semester senior, I started looking for full-time positions around March, knowing that hiring processes usually take a few weeks and if I started early it would put me on track to have a job after I graduated.
“As an intern, I always tried to go above and beyond of what was asked. The work that I did as an intern made me marketable to employers because not only did I already have a proven track record, I showed them that I was the type of employee that will put my all into helping the company succeed.
“Since graduation I’ve actually changed jobs to a startup digital media company that was a better fit for me. It’s a creative environment with a flexible work schedule so I come and go as I please as long as I get my work done. I write for different branded websites we own as well as manage the social media presence, including content creation, buying ads and analyzing analytics. I also manage interns so I’ve got enough going on where every day is a new experience and I never get stuck in monotony.”
OneDublin.org: Thinking back to your senior year in high school, what advice would you haven given yourself to get the most out of your final year of high school before you headed off to college?
Huang: “Don’t feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Rather than taking on every possible leadership position and extracurricular activity, just enjoy the year a little. You’ve got a whole life ahead of you to work like crazy, so why start now?”