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By Amy Hammer

Moving along with our series, Joel Ontiveros of UCLA shares his experiences of starting a career as an admission counselor. Please click here to read the introductions by our two other contributors before we jump into learning more of their opinions on various admission-related topics.

“The New Professional” – 1-4 years

Joel Ontiveros – Undergraduate Admission Counselor at UCLA

  • Alma Mater: UCLA (Bachelors)
  • Hometown: Wrightwood, CA

My first taste of working in admissions was during my first year of college. Like many of my colleagues in the profession, most of us started as a student worker through some shape or form, and I began as a Campus Tour Guide in my third quarter on campus at UCLA.

It was my first job in college, but it didn’t feel like a job! Showing prospective students and their families around campus was fun, and something I say to this day is that I would have given all those tours for free if the office wanted me to. It was around my second year as a tour guide that I realized becoming an Admission Officer at UCLA was a very real and possible career path. It was from my second year onwards that I would wrap up my tour presentation with not only about why I chose to attend UCLA, but also why I planned on continuing to work at the university as a full-time staff member.

I was lucky enough to have a few unique opportunities as a student to help solidify my decision to work in higher education. I was eventually asked to sit on a selection committee for our new Director of Undergraduate Admission as the student representative. And towards the end of my student career, I was lucky enough to sit on the Bruin Day planning committee as the student voice as well (Bruin Day is our annual event dedicated to newly admitted first year students).

As my senior year came to a close, I still didn’t have any set future plans. I had applied for an international teaching position as well as a recruiter position at a Bay Area company, but then right as I graduated a new position opened up in the Undergraduate Admission office. I remember thinking to myself, “This is it. This is the sign that I should work for UCLA full-time.” I applied, was given an interview, and a few weeks later offered employment. It worked out exactly as I had hoped it would since my second year as a tour guide.

Being in the position for one year now, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have learned so much more about the realm of higher education as well as myself, and I believe that working for my alma mater has provided me with the perfect mix of working hard while also being enthusiastic and having fun.