Alumni Spotlight: Anran Zhou
Anran Zhou '17
Majors: Psychology and Family Social Science
Position: Mental Health Trainee, People Incorporated (St. Paul)
What does your professional work entail? What does a typical day look like for you?
As a mental health trainee, I work in diverse community mental health programs, supporting clients from all walks of life with mental and physical illnesses to manage symptoms and to empower them in achieving their individual goals. How my day looks like depends on the setting of the program where I am scheduled to work. Across programs, I socialize and check in with clients about their mental health concerns, keep track of their progress on goals, and facilitate activities and psycho-educational groups to teach emotional regulation skills.
How do you utilize your liberal arts degree in your career?
My liberal arts degree opened the door of infinite human experiences, encouraged me to explore my identity and deepen self-awareness, and prepared me to be confident, curious and respectful venturing into unfamiliar fields. My CLA experience cultivated practical skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and team work that allow me effectively providing quality services to clients. More importantly, it instilled the value of kindness, justice and responsibility within me, which are the cornerstones of the helping profession, guiding me to become an empathetic, informed and ethical practitioner as I grow professionally.
Which competencies did you decide were most valuable in your organization, field, and/or role? Why?
The competencies that are most valuable in my organization are engaging diversity, ethical reasoning and decision making, applied problem solving, and teamwork and leadership. Helping professionals work with people with diverse racial, cultural, political, financial, religious background, abilities and gender identities, thus it is crucial to be able to connect and engage with people who are different from you and build trusting work relationships.
What was the most important career-related step you took while a student in CLA? Was it finding an internship?
In my junior and senior year, I routinely checked in with my career counselor to assess my skills, identify career goals, make plans and take actions toward reaching my goals. Because of these meetings, I get to clarify my motivations, understand my strengths in the job market, and thoroughly prepare for career fairs, networking events and interviews. I was very fortunate to have a knowledgeable and supportive career counselor along the journey of starting my own career.
What is one piece of advice you would give to current students who are looking to pursue a similar path?
Explore who you are, your motivations entering the field, and the issues you care about. Everyone can contribute in some way to make someone’s day better. Find out about your unique, irreplaceable strength, because there might be a person in need of that but cannot find it elsewhere.