W&L Outcomes: Jin Ni ’22 This fall, Jin Ni ’22 will pursue her master’s degree in human rights at University College London in the United Kingdom.
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Post-Grad Plans: Master’s in Human Rights at University College London in the UK
Industry: Graduate School
Areas of Study: Journalism, Politics
” Don’t let your fear of the future box you into a career that isn’t right for you. Don’t settle for less than what you have earned – a career that will intellectually and emotionally fulfill you. If the career doesn’t exist yet, found out how you can make it exist. The world is genuinely your oyster. You just have to be willing to try.”
~ Jin Ni ’22
Q: What have you been doing since graduation?
I am pursuing a master’s degree in human rights at University College London in the United Kingdom.
Q: How did your career plans evolve throughout your time at W&L?
My career plans changed quite a bit. I came to W&L to pursue a biochemistry degree, hoping to be on the pre-med track. By the end of my sophomore year, I had completely pivoted and declared a major in journalism. By my junior year, I had declared a second major in global politics and was seriously considering law school for international law. But as senior year progressed and I did some more reflecting, I decided law school might not for me. I wanted to help people and get right to work, and I didn’t love the idea of another three years of school. But most of the positions at public interest groups/NGOs/nonprofits I looked at required a graduate degree of some kind. I started looking for affordable and transformative graduate programs that would allow me to experience something completely different than what I had at W&L – a large research-oriented institution located in a vibrant and global city – and found that at UCL. A master’s program would only last a year, so not only would I hold two degrees at the age of 23, but I would also be able to dive into public interest and social justice work almost right away.
Q: What internships or other summer experiences did you partake in and how did those experiences shape you and your career plans?
I completed a political research internship during the summer of 2020 and a business journalism internship during the summer of 2021. Both took me to large cities: Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., respectively. And both showed me the things I was good at – working independently, communicating with people and organizing information. I also enjoyed doing these things and saw that my future career options were flexible if I did not want to be confined to my majors. I considered being a government worker at one point, and a reporter at another, but realized after partaking in my internships that neither were professions I could envision doing for the rest of my life. Though both were jobs that challenged me in the best ways and helped my professional development, I realized neither career would fulfill me. I wanted to help and interact with people and public interests on a larger global scale.
Q: How did the Office of Career and Professional Development support you and which resources did you find most helpful?
Career Development and Professional Development (CPD) was helpful to me when I was considering law school. Lorri Olan, senior associate director of CPD, was a great resource in helping me discover opportunities for minorities and first-generation students, as well as guiding me through the application process. However, when it came to grad school and the kind of work I wanted to do (social justice/civil and human rights/public interest), I did most of the research and application process on my own.
Q: What did you study at W&L and what are some skills or learnings you will take from your academic experience into the professional world?
One of the most valuable things W&L has taught me is how to present myself professionally. I am polite, articulate and confident – traits that have made me invaluable at my internships. My journalism major taught me how to write concisely and compellingly, while my politics major showed me how much there still is to do to improve our social and political institutions. My W&L experience also developed my critical thinking and leadership skills.
Q: Who or what has inspired you along the way?
My peers and my professors have inspired me along the way. I met so many inspirational and passionate women on campus who showed me how to be independent, curious and strong. They were role models to me, a first-generation college student who had never been able to imagine a life for herself after college.
Q: What career-related advice would you give to next year’s graduating class?
You don’t need to have everything figured out yet. Many of your classmates may already have jobs or plans for more school after graduation, but that doesn’t mean you have to. It is not a reflection of your aptitude or character to not have solid plans yet. You have a degree from an academically rigorous and respected university, and you are now entering the world as a leader, thinker and changemaker. You have all the skills to pursue the path you want, whether that is being an investment banker, museum curator or photographer. Don’t let your fear of the future box you into a career that isn’t right for you. Don’t settle for less than what you have earned – a career that will intellectually and emotionally (and hopefully financially) fulfill you. If the career doesn’t exist yet, find out how you can make it exist. The world is genuinely your oyster. You just have to be willing to try.
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