UTLA Student Highlight: Misbah Velji

Photo of Misbah Velji

UTLA gives students the opportunity to spend a semester in Los Angeles and learn about the entertainment industry through classes and an internship. The program is open to all UT Austin students of any major, and sessions are offered during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Students participating in the UTLA program have the opportunity to gain real-world experience from industry experts in Hollywood, while also taking UTLA-specific classes on a wide range of topics.

I had the opportunity to speak with Misbah Velji, an Advertising junior from San Antonio, who spent a semester with UTLA. During the 2023 fall semester, Misbah completed two internships in West Hollywood and attended classes in Burbank. Misbah was drawn to Advertising as a major because of her creativity and analytical skills. It was also her creativity that drew Misbah to apply to UTLA; her curiosity about the entertainment industry prompted her to pursue a hands-on experience in LA. Majoring in Advertising has also provided Misbah with many opportunities to collaborate with classmates and learn from talented professors, both in Austin and LA.

Misbah uniquely completed two internships in LA; one with a television and film production company and the other with a creative music management company. One of the most interesting projects that she had the opportunity to work on included campaigns for different artists in the music industry. Something fascinating that she noticed was the impact of marketing strategies in this space. She expanded her experience in both of these positions in the industry, saying, “Throughout my internships and my time in LA, I was allowed to have a lot of creative freedom, from pitching ideas to my bosses, attending events held by UTLA, and even being able to learn more from my peers I worked with. The entertainment industry is made up of so many components, much of which I was unfamiliar with before living in LA, and I feel like my experience there is something I will never forget and am forever grateful for.”

Misbah was fortunate to find a place to live that was very central, which allowed her to navigate her internships and classes with ease. She noted that although she was previously familiar with LA and visited many times growing up, she realized she still had so much more to learn about the city. Finding a community within LA helped her immensely. Because many UTLA alumni offered to help and network with current UTLA students, Misbah got to hear former UTLA and UT students’ stories. Speaking on her experience with UTLA alumni and her UT connections in LA, Misbah noted, “Special shoutout to Brandon Curtis who guided me and not only became a mentor, but a friend, showing me the ropes of LA’s beauty and the industry. Through these connections and the amazing work of the UTLA staff, I was able to come home with a piece of LA forever with me and an immensely powerful and amazing network.”

Misbah came back to Austin with many takeaways. She expressed gratitude for her roommates, peers, friends, and professors whom she got to learn from, saying, “Community is huge! Moving to a city, let alone being across the country from home, is insanely difficult, but being able to come back to a community so strong was so nice and comforting.” It was within this community that Misbah learned to step outside of her comfort zone, take risks and learn to say yes to everything. Each opportunity, networking event, or hangout provided her with so much to learn from, and also taught her more about her own capabilities. Expanding on this growth, Misbah stated, “UTLA shaped me, and allowed me a platform to experience growth on my own terms while providing me the professional resources to do so!”

Misbah is looking forward to getting back to LA to visit soon, and would like to revisit the places she once called home. As a lover of the California coastline, she most misses the beach. “If it wasn’t interning or in class, you’d find me at the nearest beach soaking up the sun and listening to the waves.”

Leah Smith
Lauryn Kapiloff