There is a fear that all college students share – graduating from college. It used to sound great: pursuing your dream job, making great money and making use of that degree that you slaved over for four years. That was before the economy crashed and kept crashing. Now, when students think about graduating from college, all they see is a blank page. New paths now have to be carved out and that truly is scary, creating something of your own with no instructions or guidance on exactly what you’re trying to do.
But do not fear! There are creative individuals who graduated from the UC Davis design major, as well as the textiles and clothing major, who are more than happy to impart their advice for all the fearful readers on campus about the future and all the surprises it has waiting for you.
Sarah Kim graduated in June 2008 with a B.S. in textiles and clothing. She is currently an assistant editor of Antenna Magazine in New York City. She credits the many different courses that she got to take for her major such as chemistry and accounting for making her well rounded for the job she now has.
“Our major was relatively small, which made it really easy to start networking before even leaving Davis,” Kim said. “Not to mention, my advisor Joan Chandler was the absolute best.”
Kim got her job as an assistant editor at Antenna, which is an international men’s lifestyle, product and fashion magazine, by starting out as a freelance fashion assistant and advancing forward. It’s a stressful job, as she has a hand in everything in the magazine.
“I do everything from coming up with ideas for the magazine, going to press previews for different types of products and places, writing, traveling, to packing and unpacking boxes, staying late nights in the office and then some,” Kim said.
The job isn’t easy but Kim loves what she does.
“Life after college, it’s real,” Kim said. “There’s a weird self awareness, or self questioning maybe, because you’ve only measured yourself to your peers and suddenly you’re in a completely different ball game. Life after college is intensely scary, truly eye opening and makes you feel small, but in a good, humbling kind of way.”
Katrina Chan, who has just recently graduated in June 2011 with two B.A.s – design and sociology – organizational studies – feels the same way about life after college. Chan is currently working as a graphic design and ticket specialist intern at Disney Ticketing. She designs the graphics on the tickets that customers purchase throughout the day.
“Life after college can be pretty scary,” Chan said. “There is this common misconception that you are suppose to find your dream job and know what you are supposed to do after you graduate. That is entirely false. It is still a learning process even after you graduate to find and rediscover what you want to do in life. I’m still figuring out what I really want to do”.
Chan got to her current position by having completed the Disney College Program in Fall 2008 at the Disneyland Resort where she worked at the entertainment sector. A lifelong fan of Disney, Chan had always dreamed of working for Disney one day and took all the opportunities she could get to fulfill her dream.
Rebecca Wendlant and Matthew Hatfield, on the other hand, have taken crafting new paths to a different level. Both run their own businesses; Wendlant has a custom design and sewing business which is located in her home while Hatfield created his own clothing program which does orders online.
Wendlant graduated in June 2006 with a B.S. in design with an emphasis in fashion and textiles.
“The design program taught me how to design a garment that was not only functionally appropriate for its intended use but also innovative, creative and exciting,” Wendlant said. “The professors I worked with encouraged me along this more artistic path and helped me develop my design skills.”
Hatfield graduated with a B.A. in graphic design with an emphasis in visual communication in 2010.
“My degree didn’t prepare me for my day job in the warehouse but it fully prepared me for what I want to do which is to start a clothing company,” Hatfield said.
All the graduates agree that the design program in Davis has prepared them in their jobs and what they want to do for the rest of their lives. However, that doesn’t mean they still don’t have advice that they’ve picked up from years of experience after college.
“Don’t think you have to do exactly what you’ve had planned because the fact of the matter is, it’s probably not going to go your way. And that’s okay. Be genuine and work hard. And always follow up,” Kim said. “Do yourself and your future employer a favor and google Bobby Hundreds. Just work hard, it’s not hard work. Just soak it in.”
Chan, on the other hand, suggests that students find other ways to put their work out there in the public as a way to find out their individual goals.
“If you can keep a fun and professional blog about your life, it will give an insight to employers to let them know what kind of person you are,” Chan said. “It also shows that you are able to communicate effectively through the web. Always have an updated online portfolio to show to your employers. Success is not a destination; it’s a journey. It’s still a learning process throughout your whole life even after you graduate.”
In the same vein, Hatfield agrees that finding individuality through self-discovery is one of the first steps to finding success in the business.
“Learn everything and develop a style,” Hatfield said. “Be the perfect version of yourself, don’t be held back by rules and expectations and fears, give yourself permission to do whatever it is you please. Make your own job and use the online world to promote yourself. It’s a million times easier than handing out a resume to everyone you meet. Trust me, money will find you. You will go hungry, look for change under the cushions and crash at your friend’s house because you are homeless. But hey, that’s college anyways.”
But even among those somewhat bleak but realistic words of advice, everybody agrees on one fundamental thing.
“Be happy. There is literally nothing so terribly important that you can’t approach it without a smile on your face. Worry about bills, credit ratings and sleep when you’re 50. Right now you are young, beautiful and full of the brightest ideas. Chase every opportunity that comes your way,” Hatfield said.
MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.