Kiera Cox ’18

Alumni
Diplomacy & World Affairs
2018

A Diplomacy & World Affairs and Spanish double major, People Operations Analyst Kiera Cox was drawn to her employer’s mission of improving literacy and gender equality in the developing world.

What inspired you to pursue a job in your current industry?
I never imagined myself getting into People Ops or Human Resources, but when I saw a job opening with the educational nonprofit Room to Read I realized it could be something I’d enjoy. I thrive working with people and collaborating across departments, and that's been a major part of my role. Also, I was so inspired by Room to Read’s mission and values that I wanted to get involved any way I could!

What led you to choose your major?
I've been interested in international politics since high school and was drawn to the numerous opportunities offered by the DWA department at Oxy. I originally intended to minor in Spanish, but I was so impressed by the faculty and the quality of the classes that I added it as a second major.

What were the most important skills that you learned during your time at Oxy? In what ways did a liberal arts education help shape your career aspirations?
A big part of my success in my current job is being able to communicate clearly and effectively, and I think the emphasis on writing and critical thinking at Oxy definitely prepared me well for that. In addition, the many research papers I wrote prepared me to think outside the box and pursue different avenues of knowledge needed to solve a problem at work.

Talk about the process you went through to land your first job out of college.
I applied for tons of jobs on LinkedIn and Idealist and got rejected for all of them! Then I found a listing on Handshake that I applied for kind of on a whim, and ended up getting the job. I'm not at that position anymore, but it was a good stepping stone for the rest of my career.

How did you engage with the HCC during your time at Oxy?
I had someone from the Hameetman Career Center review my resume and help plan out my strategy for applying to jobs my senior year. I also participated in the InternLA program the summer after my junior year.

There can be a lot of pressure to do something extraordinary right out of the gate, when sometimes your first job is mostly a stepping stone to something else more aligned with your goals. And that's okay!

Looking back, what do you wish you knew about the career prep/planning as an incoming first-year?
I wish I knew that your first job absolutely does not need to be your dream job. I feel like there can be a lot of pressure to do something extraordinary right out of the gate, when sometimes your first job is mostly a stepping stone to something else more aligned with your goals. And that's okay! You learn something from every job and you have your entire career to get to where you need to be. There's no need to feel inadequate because you don't have a glamorous, high-powered job right away.

Where do you see yourself in the future, career-wise?
In the short-term I definitely see myself staying at Room to Read. It's an amazing place to work and I see so much potential for professional development. Looking more long-term, I'm excited about several different possibilities, but I do see myself staying involved with the nonprofit sector in some capacity.

Any advice for current students at Oxy?
From picking your major to your career path, don't feel like everything has to be set in stone! So many "real adults" I know wound up in a career they never thought they would pursue as a college student. It's okay to change your mind; in fact, I think it's a good thing—if you're not changing your perspective on anything then you're not growing!

 

Read more young alumni profiles.