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Post Graduation: What Do You Do?

One common goal all UCI students share is the completion of their degree. We work towards this goal for our entire undergraduate careers, but what comes after graduation? To solve this challenging puzzle, we should evaluate what we want to accomplish in life, when we want to acquire these achievements and how to actually realize them. 

“What do I want? What am I passionate about?,” we must ask ourselves these and other questions to unveil what our post-graduation objective should be. In my case, I want to make a living doing something that sparks an inner profound excitement and passion. Writing, being creative and helping others ignites my spark. What ignites yours? With these factors in mind, one can research and discover different occupations that rely on these traits.

Journalism could be a pathway for me to use my passion for writing, becoming a civil rights attorney could be a good opportunity to help other people, and filmmaking and animation could enable my creativity to flourish. These professional arenas check my boxes to some degree. However, if you are like me and have many choices to choose from, picking the career that checks most or all of your boxes may be the easiest way to decide.

After selecting a career path and an occupation, learn what area interests you the most and determine when you want to secure a position in that area. For example, if you have decided to pursue journalism, ask yourself what position in journalism you want and when you would like to attain that role. Are you interested in becoming an editor, a news anchor or operating through your own news platform? At what age do you want to acquire this role? Having these goals in mind can help us meet them because they serve as reminders of how far we need to go to reach them.

Establishing goals and a timeframe are actionable steps, but developing a strategy to obtain them is extremely vital. To plan out how to reach our goals, we need to make ourselves competitive candidates. Work experience is key — aspiring journalists can intern at news stations and write for their university’s newspaper, aspiring lawyers can attend the best law school possible and intern at law firms, and aspiring filmmakers and animators can refine their artistic capabilities and build a portfolio. Regardless of the profession, work experience in our desired occupation can help us learn more about the skills we should have to become efficient employees.  

Experience in your chosen field strengthens your resume, broadens your network and allows you to stand out in job interviews. Research what will transform you into a competitive candidate for your respective career; seek out internships and job opportunities, and do your best to secure them. If you need assistance in putting together a resume, the UCI Career Center has many sample resumes for every major. They also offer resume appointments as an option for students to receive feedback on their resumes. In addition to resume refinement, the center offers many resources like interview preparation. Impressive interviewing skills place us on higher pedestals and make it easier to leave a positive impression.

Lastly, I recommend trying not to focus solely on the financial aspect of a potential career path. While it is an important consideration, it should not be the primary one. If your passion does not have the largest starting salary, do not immediately turn away. You can grow within your profession and earn a larger salary later. It is better to work passionately towards something we genuinely care about and makes us happy than something that makes us miserable but wealthy.

Graduating college is an amazing accomplishment and a significant milestone, but it can also create a sense of confusion and obscurity. This can be remedied by creating new goals. Pursuing our passions, researching and developing a strategy to accomplish them are the most prudent ways to navigate life after graduation. And no matter what we choose, we will do remarkably well as long as we stay motivated and determined.

Thomas Solano is an Opinion Intern for the Spring 2020 quarter. He can be reached at twsolano@uci.edu.