One of the most enriching aspects of my UCLA undergraduate career is interning at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center during my junior year. While working at the volunteers’ office, I gained not only knowledge about coordinating and administrative roles but also the significance of cooperation and drive to help others just for the sake of helping.

Interning is a worthy commitment because despite attending and studying for classes, working other jobs and participating in other social events, you have to schedule a certain amount of hours dedicated to being at the hospital. Usually I worked about 10 hours each week because by experiencing longer intervals at the office, I could really gain a full picture of what goes on. At the office, I learned about each person’s role and how he/she fit into the whole office. I had the chance to dip my hands into so many roles, and it was fun to learn how to do so many different tasks.

My main role as an intern was to communicate with students who come into the office to inquire about the process of becoming a volunteer before sending them to the coordinators. Even though most of their questions are answered by the volunteers’ Web site, many students want the security of asking a coordinator to make sure.

What I noticed about these interactions is that our generation is considered “spoon-fed:” We want every question answered about five different times by five different people to make sure the answer is drilled into our minds. We feel little drive to think outside the box and figure out the solutions and answers to our daily questions and problems.

The second observation about these interactions is the quality of patience. For me, this being my first time interning and answering these questions, I was patient in repeating my answer multiple times. For someone who has answered these questions for years, they will just direct the students to the Web site and read the answers for themselves. Patience wears out, and I learned sometimes it is not best to feed directions over and over again.

For example, a young high schooler who had to go through the process of completing all her paperwork before volunteering had a breakdown at the office. She rushed into the office and was crying and loudly asking: “Will somebody please help me. I just don’t know what to do anymore!”

Once she calmed down, she explained that so many people were telling her to do different things, and these people failed to communicate with each other about the “official” process before telling her what to do. If she had read the directions on her own, perhaps she would have figured out the discrepancies in what she was told. The irony is 15-year-olds work with 21-year-olds, volunteering at the same place, doing the same thing. The chief distinction between these age groups is the level of maturity in realizing your mental and physical capacities.

During quieter days, I get to sit at the front, greeting those who come into the office and answering phones. On the desk, one coordinator placed a frame of a quote: “Courage does not roar. It is the little voice at the end of the day that says ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” Sometimes, I just take a break from everything that is going on and stare at this quote, rereading it over and over again. By interning, putting myself in a very professional setting, I am learning that I must find my own voice rather than listen to everyone around me telling me what to do: parents, professors, friends … When I find my voice, I am really grown-up and ready for the “real world.”

The hospital is truly a place of dichotomies. It is the place that welcomes birth yet meets death. It is also the place of great happiness and melancholy. Interning there, I recognized the importance of humility and how wonderful I feel when I am needed.

Have a student group or idea for a future Spirited Bruin? E-mail