Alumni News



Cornelia Miedler '04 "...From the Austrian Alps to the Hollywood Hills"



Where are you now? 

Cornelia Meidler

After living in Santa Monica for a decade and working in marketing after I graduated, I decided to return to my country of birth: Austria. I miss beautiful Santa Monica every day - especially those amazing sunsets and the great Mexican food. I struggled a lot with finding a job to continue my career path in marketing when I went back to Europe. Frustrated with my career prospects, I decided to pursue a lifelong dream of mine: I wrote a book. I published 'LAlien: From the Austrian Alps to the Hollywood Hills' in 2016. The process of fulfilling this dream made me realize how much I enjoy writing and holding readings to share my experience with others. Last year, I decided to make a major change in my life: I quit my full-time job and started working part-time. While I had to adjust my lifestyle to a reduced income, the extra time to write my next book made me so much happier. I hope to finish my second book within the next six months. In September 2017, I am also planning on launching a translation service business catering to students who need help with their resumes when looking for jobs in the US or in a German-speaking country. Plus, I want to offer my German and English writing skills to startups who need content for their website.   

How did your experience at Santa Monica College influence your life?

Santa Monica College was the kick-off for a new life me. I grew up on a farm in the Austrian Alps where going to college was not a given a lot of importance, especially not for girls. I was already 23 years old when I signed up for my first classes. I was so worried that I might not be able to follow the lectures because English is not my native language but once I started, I realized how international the student body was and I felt so at ease. The positive environment and the support of the professors and advisors were so encouraging. When I started at Santa Monica College, I was very insecure and shy. When I left to move on to UCLA, I was a completely different person. I dared to speak up and to speak my mind. This was life-changing for me.

One particular class was also extremely helpful to me: self-defense. At the time, I always said this class should be mandatory for every girl. This class did wonders for my self-esteem. I realized that I was physically and mentally a lot stronger than I thought. I think the class was canceled soon after I left SMC. I sincerely hope it is offered again.


Shout out to a faculty or staff member that made a difference? 

I want to give a general shout out to the counselors on campus. At Austrian universities, it is not common to have advisors guide you through the college-maze. There is no one to turn to if you have questions. I was entirely grateful that someone took the time to sit down with me and explain to me what I had to do to graduate and transfer. The counselors never made me feel like I was asking a 'silly' question and they were extremely patient and friendly!

Words of wisdom to share with future alumni? 

Try as many different elective classes as you can during your first year to figure out what you enjoy doing. This will help you decide on a major. I also recommend taking a career development class. You may learn about some hidden skills you were not aware of before. And while you may hate sitting at home and studying on a sunny Sunday afternoon, while the others are playing volleyball on the beach, remember that this is just a few years in your life when you have to make some sacrifices. The reward of getting good grades and eventually landing a great job will make you realize that this was a small price to pay. My rule for myself was: Saturday was for playing, Sunday was for studying.  

What's next?

I am celebrating my 40th birthday next year. Forty was always my scary age but I am starting to learn that as I get older, I also get to know myself better. Now, I dare to pursue my personal goals and put those first. It took me a long time to tell people I am a writer when asked what I do because it does not pay my bills. Now, I say it proudly. Plus, I can't wait to launch my translation business next month. I really enjoy having several things going on at the same time. I feel like the best is yet to come and there are no limits to what I can achieve.

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