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Monday, October 18, 2021

A cure for post-graduation anxieties

LUCY KNOWLES / AGGIE

UC Davis graduates impart wisdom

Gabriela Florian graduated from UC Davis in June 2016 with a triple major in political science, Spanish and communication, plus a passion for government policy. However, upon entering adult life, Florian faced an unexpected reality when the first job she landed after graduating was at Kohl’s.

“I had high expectations getting out of college, but it’s not enough to think that since you have a good degree you will get a great job,” Florian said. “You have to make connections and work really hard your last year of college because life after graduation is difficult at first.”

At a such a competitive university, students tend to have a voice in their heads telling them to cram in as much internship and career experience as possible in order to lead a successful life. However, there are many more aspects of the “real world” than simply preparing to work in your field of interest.

Now, as an administrative assistant at the Student Academic Success Center (SASC), Florian dreams to work for the California State Capitol, where she held a job during her college years. However, she wishes she could have made more connections with the people she had met during her time there.

“In addition to making connections, I would have applied [to jobs] starting the beginning of [senior] year and [come] much earlier to the SASC to get my resume and cover letters checked,” Florian said. “There are only so many hours in a day, but this has all been a learning experience.”

Florian started building her resume during her freshman year by working on campus as an instructional research assistant. However, she believes that she was inhibited from landing her dream job after graduation because, in her experience, employers are looking for more professional credentials which students have a better chance of achieving through connections. While she is satisfied with her current position at the SASC — which she acquired six months after graduating — she knows that the job is only a stepping stone to where she wants to be.

“If you’re shy and introverted, you’re not going to get to your dream,” Florian said. “You have to be out there and meet people.”

Workforce experience and building a professional network are both keys to a successful career after college, but it is just as important to develop habits for a successful personal life.

Jannet Nieves is a fourth-year clinical nutrition major who teaches cooking classes at the Student Health and Wellness Center’s Teaching Kitchen, and has dedicated her time to educating students on the importance of nutritious cooking and eating as they enter the real world.

“The classes teach students basics that they can build upon, such as how to hold a knife or sautée vegetables,” Nieves said. “It’s really important in college to practice cooking for ourselves because it becomes very easy to go out and eat fast food. Learning how to cook is not only cheaper but it’s also more nutritious.”

Nieves pointed out that many students come to college accustomed to their parents cooking for them, but never learn how to cook for themselves. According to Nieves, even learning the basics of cooking opens up a world of opportunities for various meal options.

“In general it’s a great basic skill to have because you can do so much with it,” Nieves said. “If you know how to sautée one thing, you can with 10 other things as well. Health-wise, it’s really important because in society as a whole we suffer from many chronic diseases and just knowing how to cook a well balanced plate goes a long way and can save you so much money in the long run.”

Nieves’ and the Teaching Kitchen’s main priority is to teach students how to prepare a meal of carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables so that they can include nutrition in their busy post-college lives. They also teach students how to have fun while doing this.

“One of the best things about the cooking classes is that it’s a hands-on class of about 11 students at a time so it becomes a really fun social experience,” Nieves said. “Everybody starts talking to each other about the different things they know how to do so you make a lot of friends cooking and exchanging ideas of different cultures as well.”

In Nieves’ opinion, cooking is a social skill that allows future graduates to host parties and become more confident in trying new things. It is also a great topic of conversation which could lead to an expanded professional network founded on a mutual interest in cooking.

Brad Barber, Associate Dean and professor of finance at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, teaches the course Navigating Life’s Financial Decisions (MGT 12Y), which helps prepare students for difficult decisions they may face as graduates.

“Spending a lot of time looking into availability of jobs in the profession you’re interested in, the trainings required and what the pay is are useful exercises for students to think about upon graduation,” Barber said. “It makes a lot of sense for students to take a cold, hard look at what their opportunities are and what the pay is so they can make an informed choice in those dimensions and go in knowing what the odds are.”

Barber pointed out that while finding a job is important, finding the right job in something enjoyable is more healthy. He recommends correlating individual life skills with potential jobs, because doing so tends to make post-graduate life more employable.

“There’s no magic sauce,” Barber said. “The facts are [that] it’s a competitive labor market and it will continue to be, so students should figure out their unique skills that they can do well and package themselves around that skill.”

Barber teaches where to look for a job and how to handle the things that come next such as car insurance, saving for retirement and investing once students establish some savings.

“I try to take a holistic approach and think about what we as human beings get enjoyment out of,” Barber said. “Research shows that our experiences matter more than things. Trying to stretch your life in a way that maximizes the experiences that you have, such as family and friends, are way more important than the size of the house you live in or the kind of car you drive.”

While happiness is important for a successful life, it may not come very easily without a little saving.

“Try and save a little bit of everything you earn because there’s a lot of evidence that people who save are able to delay gratification which is a very useful skill,” Barber said. “These types of people tend to study more for the test, train harder for the big game and put in the work knowing that they won’t get immediate gratification but that it’s going to take months if not years to achieve a goal. Saving money teaches you to delay gratification because you’re giving something up today so that you can have something better in the future.”
Written by: Gillian Allen — features@theaggie.org

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