Kristian’s New Summer Home at Rocky Mountain

Hi there! My name is Kristian Guillen, and I am originally from Los Angeles, California.  I live in a small town called Baldwin Park, home of the very first In-n-Out!  I graduated last Spring of 2023 with magna cum laude from the California State University of Fullerton with a bachelor’s in history and a minor in Cinema and Television Arts.  You might be wondering how a kid from the big city would end up in a massive park like Rocky Mountain, well my journey of how I got here first started when I first started looking into jobs during my 2nd year of college.  Having an active YouTube Channel throughout my time in high school and in college, I decided to further pursue my career options, in which I landed my first on-campus job position as a director and executive producer for Titan TV, the all-student-led video production studio in the basement of the Pollak library.  My role in this position was to oversee all my assigned productions, manage the interns and their scriptwriting, cutting the first rough edits of the shows with the graphics and VFX, anchor in some episodes, and lead the whole crew on filming days of our shows like Titan Weekly, Tech On, The Report, and Titan Radio Live!  It was a fun experience, but by my 3rd year, I knew I had to start looking at job opportunities that coordinated more with my history major.  This is when I found my next on-campus job as a student assistant at the Lawrence de Graaf Center for Oral and Public History where my duties included tackling many different oral history projects and listening to countless hours of interviews from people who share their personal experiences as a war medic in the Vietnam War, Japanese Americans and their lives inside the internment camps, and much more fascinating stories.  It was my responsibility to create abstracts on these oral histories where I digitized them online to make it accessible for students to check them out for their research and use them as evidence for their senior thesis.  

A look inside Center for Oral and Public History located on the 6th floor of the Pollak Library on campus.

Despite loving this job, by my last year of college, I was starting to have a mid-life crisis on what I was going to do with my degree after graduation, as my position was only temporary since it was federal work study.  During my last semester, a great professor in our American Social History course showed us a documentary on Lowell National Historical Park in which I saw interpretive rangers giving educational programs on the hardships and history of this historic site; this has since changed my life for the better.  I finally saw an opportunity to expand my horizon on what to do with my degree aside from just being a teacher or professor, because I did not want to feel limited to teaching inside a classroom for the rest of my life.  Instead, I wanted to see what teaching outdoors would be like, which is how I found an interest in working for the National Park Service as an interpretive ranger.  Once I graduated, I finally investigated internships with the NPS and California State Parks, but all the employers were prioritizing its applicants with previous internship experience, which I felt negated the whole purpose and for a while I lost hope in going down that career path, that is until Olvera Street came into the picture.  During that summer, one of my past professors sent me a flier stating that El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historical Monument was actively hiring museum guides which I applied for and finally landed my first job outside of college which has been such a blessing ever since I started.  Working as a museum guide and giving walking tours to our guests about the oldest house in Los Angeles, the first fire station, or interpreting our famous Siqueiros mural he painted on the Italian Hall has been the best way I feel to get my foot out of the door and see what careers history can lead me to.  

Taking my graduation photos to celebrate this great achievement.

Making great connections and networking with my coworkers, one informed me about some internships she completed under the Environment for the Americas and always encouraged us to apply for, so I did just that.  This is when I looked into the Fish and Feathers Internship Program which is partnered with the National Park Service, and so I rushed home one day after work to submit my application which was due that night.  Weeks go by and I hear nothing.  Again, I began to start losing hope, until one day the program coordinator reached out to inform me that the original park I applied for in Michigan proceeded with a more qualified applicant but informed me that Rocky Mountain National Park was still looking for a candidate. So, I set up an interview for the next day and they saw my potential and passion to one day work for the park service and offered me the internship position on the spot.  I was thrilled, nervous, and anxious, but I knew I was ready to deal with big changes in my life and I was not going to let myself run away from change.  I let my family, boss, and fellow museum guides from El Pueblo know about being selected for the position, and they right away supported me on taking on this journey and have placed me on a leave of absence for the summer while I’m here at Rocky.  I packed all my bags for the summer and hit the road to Colorado where I would call Rocky Mountain my new home.

Gathering for a guided hike in Rocky Mountain’s east side with the rest of the Fish & Feathers interns.

Which brings us to today!  I am joining the Interpretation team here at Rocky Mountain National Park on the Colorado River District, or the west side as the Fish and Feathers Intern.  This summer, I will be leading two of my own programs which are the Jr. Angler Fly Fishing Program and the Jr. Ranger Program in which my goal is to further my practice with interpretive programming and outdoor education.  From hosting weekly educational talks on different aspects in Rocky, leading bird watching hikes, critter chats, and teaching Jr. Anglers how to fly fish, I would say my time here at Rocky Mountain will definitely be a life-changing experience.  This internship will introduce me to the real world outside the big city, and it will show me what exactly goes into working with the National Park Service.  Though I do not know what the future will hold in store for me, I know that I have finally found my calling as well as found a sense of belonging here, this is what I have been long waiting for, and I want to thank everyone that has helped me along my journey.  So, thank you, to the reader for listening to my story, because although it’s not the most conventional approach like most interns with backgrounds and degrees in science and wildlife management, it’s mine nonetheless and I intend to tag you along with me on this new journey together.

My adventure here this summer awaits.
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