Your UBC journey doesn’t end with graduation. In fact, it’s just the beginning. As you graduate, you become part of a global community of over 100,000 Arts alumni—that’s 100,000 potential mentors and friends; 100,000 stories; and 100,000 lessons learned.
To help you in the next step of your journey, we spoke to Arts alumni to distill seven pieces of wisdom for the Class of 2022.
1. Find work that aligns with your values
In the years following graduation, Carmen Watson (BA ‘19, Honours History, International Relations) prioritized finding work that was meaningful to her. “I made a conscious choice to work in fields that I believed in, supported, and wanted to contribute to their mandate. As much as I wanted a good salary right out of school, my priority was landing a job where I could feel proud of the work I did.”
Following her own advice, Carmen now works as a Bilingual Equity & Inclusion Strategist for Bakau Consulting.
2. Learn what networking really means
“Often, we talk about networking as if it’s a popularity contest, which is not very useful,” says Stephen Morgan (BA’13, English). Networking isn’t about having the biggest number of connections on LinkedIn. The first rule of networking is simple: stay in touch with people you already know, including the friends and professors you’ve built relationships with throughout your undergrad.
The second step might be more intimidating: making professional connections in your field. But Stephen insists that with the right approach, it can be simple. “[Networking] is just knowing your market and knowing the people that are in the world that you’re entering.” That can happen through meetups, informational interviews, or asking someone you know for a connection.
“If you see someone with a career that you think is interesting, you can email them and ask them for 15 minutes of their time to ask three specific questions based on their career… People who you might think are way out of your league will probably say yes to you.”
3. Be open to unexpected directions
The path after graduation isn’t always a linear one. This was certainly true for Terry Lum (BA’98, Geography), who landed a job in Japan after graduation, then became a business advisor, then managed his wife’s business, then ended up working at colleges. Now he’s Director of Operations at Vancouver Premier College.
“Working in the education sector was nowhere on my radar while I was a student,” Terry says. “I had about four turns in my path and each was related to changes in direction, ambition, and one just by chance.”
Being patient and curious can lead you in directions you never imagined. “Sometimes you have to look for new opportunities and sometimes they come to you. For me it was a combination of both,” Terry says.
“Try everything, try all the things and figure out what you really like... Because to be honest, you truly can do anything.”
4. Leverage your Arts degree
Adrian Liem (BA’00, Psychology) chose psychology because he wanted to understand the foundational question of “why we do what we do.” Inspired by a professor who taught organizational behavior, he has been applying those principles to his work throughout his career, and in his personal life too.
“From what I have observed, a psychology degree is as valuable as you make it,” Adrian says. “The real value is in drawing connections to the things you continue to learn and observe throughout all aspects of your life … There is a strong foundation that you can continue to build on as you go through new work and life experiences, but it’s really up to you to make those connections.”
As an Arts alum, you possess skills that will continually open doors throughout your career. From written communication, critical thinking, to cross-disciplinary connections, you may be surprised by the myriad ways your Arts skills can be applied.
“Embrace uncertainty. Write your own story. Be relentlessly curious. Reject any crippling pressure to make the 'right' move. There are no wrong decisions. Just decisions.”
5. Don’t take rejection personally
When Tomo Yamaguchi (BA’18, Political Science) graduated, she found herself frantically Googling—“a whole lot of desperate 1AM ‘how to send a follow up e-mail after an interview’ and ‘I have nothing on my resume’” she says.
Over time, she learned to lean on her community, including her older sister.
“The most valuable piece of advice she gave me was to not take rejection personally and to move on swiftly. Though it was difficult not to get discouraged from the mounting number of rejection e-mails, I was able to keep at it because I learned not to equate interview results with my self-worth.” Tomo soon landed a position as a Talent Acquisition Partner at IBM.
6. Create a portfolio
In addition to a resume, a portfolio can help demonstrate the skills you’ve developed throughout your education. “A paper that you wrote could go into a portfolio; it does not need to be strictly visual,” says Hugh Knapp (BA ’18), a sociology graduate now working as a design researcher at IBM.
“The portfolio helps in job interviews as they give you the opportunity to drive discussion and tell stories about your experiences and capabilities in a really engaging way.”
7. Tap into UBC career resources
Even though you may be leaving campus, the UBC community will always have your back. “Tap into ecosystems and resources. There’s no reason to do it by yourself,” says Lina Zdruli (BA’14, International Relations).
As a UBC alum, you have exclusive access to a vast array of services and supports through the alumni UBC Career Development program. You can explore job opportunities and employer events by visiting Your Next Step and CareersOnline. This includes practical tips about job hunting, ways to talk to employers about your Arts degree, job boards and employer info sessions.
“Attend every conference and panel you can outside your field,” says Lina. “You never know what new topic can change the direction of your interests, or which encounter can open a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“Keep learning and following your curiosity even after graduation. It's surprising how your interests and passions can change as you try out career paths, meet new people and engage with your community.”
Go forth Class of 2022! We’ve got your back.
From practical workshops to alumni networks – we’ve collected resources to help you launch your career as you start your next chapter.