Danielle Monique D. Cerdeña

Lab Assistant at UC San Diego School of Medicine

Second Year | Muir| Global Health w/ Music Minor

As a lab assistant at the School of Medicine of UC San Diego, I have the opportunity to apply knowledge from STEM courses to real-life settings. Furthermore, working alongside teaching surgeons and medical students provides insight to my intended career-path: medicine. My job differentiates me from most because I have gotten early exposure to medical teaching courses. For example, I get to work hands-on with cadavers in order to learn about the anatomy and physiology of the human body, rather than learning from a textbook.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job? A: My favorite part of my job is the staff. My boss, the teaching surgeons, and even medical students are supportive of every student’s future endeavors and aspirations. It’s a blessing to have such an encouraging support-system.

Q: Did you have prior work experience that helped you get this job? A: To be transparent, I did not have a lot of STEM background due to the fact that I was given this opportunity as a first year student. However, I had previous experience with leadership in high-school organizations, and volunteer opportunities in my community back in Texas, as well as third-world countries such as the Philippines. Moreover, working in luxury retail with Michael Kors, helped me exercise communicative and organizational skills in the laboratory.

Q: What have you learned from your job? A: As a lab assistant, I have learned how important it is to have self-discipline in order to achieve a position in the healthcare field. Contrary to popular belief, obtaining this position improved my academic performance, and greatly improved my time-management skills. Additionally, I have gained an even higher respect for those who successfully obtained their medical degree, for the rigor and mental challenges presented in medical school and beyond are far from easy. Lastly, I have learned how beneficial it is to one’s mental health to be surrounded by students and adults who strive and encourage academic achievement through never-ending positive energy.

Q: What advice do you have for students who are looking for jobs? A: I encourage all students to refrain from underestimating their capabilities. Students do not have to have a perfect GPA to become an employee or intern in a laboratory. Persistence, diligence, and self-confidence override any quantitative measure of intelligence in the
workplace.

Final thoughts? It is 100% possible to be involved in other extra-curricular activities while working in the STEM field. Aside from my lab assistant position, I am also the Tritons for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Chair in the Associated Students department. This position allows me to focus on social justice and campus climate at UC San Diego. Additionally, I am also a member of UC San Diego’s Tritones A Capella group. It’s important to balance career-driven activities with other interests!

Do you have an awesome on-campus job? Do you love what you do and want to share your experiences with other students? If so, contact us and you may be spotlighted in future newsletters!

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of The Triton Worker.

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