“I’m afraid I won’t have a job.”
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to support myself while doing what I love.”
“I’m afraid I’ll feel lonely and lose contact with my friends.”
If you’re feeling any of these concerns, consider yourself a typical college senior. Balancing school work, extracurricular activities, thesis writing, and job hunting leaves many searching for solace.
Fortunately, those who have graduated from the 5Cs have some calming words for those of us just waiting to enter the “real” world.
I jumped on the opportunity to ask a couple of graduates for answers.
After reaching out to 5C alumni through mutual friends on Facebook, I spoke with Giovanni Soto PZ ’14 and Brandon O’Neal CM ’16 over two separate phone calls.
Although Soto and O’Neal pursued different career paths, they shared a common ambition during and after college: They understood what I was going through as a senior, and were consequently eager to help.
Soto is eloquent, quick-witted, and confident – almost like a veteran Hollywood executive. At Pitzer, he majored in political science and sociology. While at school, he played rugby, served on Student Senate, worked as a Spanish tutor, and volunteered at a LA County juvenile detention program called Camp Afflerbaugh-Paige. After one year at Creative Artists Agency, the leading agency for entertainment and sports, he is now beginning a new job at Paramount Pictures working with renowned producer Tommy Harper.
O’Neal, on the other hand, majored in International Relations at Claremont McKenna College. While on campus, he also played rugby and participated in the hip hop dance crew, Pangea. He is currently working at a translation company and pursuing an acting career in Taipei. His passion, mixed with an easy-going attitude, is as palpable as it is unique.
Understanding that there may be compromises, Soto and O’Neal reassure students that once they make the transition from student to professional, things will begin to fall into place. Maybe situations are a lot simpler than we make them out to be on campus. Stress and uncertainty might make us lose sight of the bigger picture.
TSL: Can you describe what you do?
Brandon O’Neal CM ’16: I am working at a translation company and pursuing an acting career in Tapei.
Giovanni Soto PZ ’14: I am in the middle of starting a new job at Paramount with Producer Tommy Harper in Los Angeles.
TSL: Can you describe the transition from student to professional?
BO: When I was a senior, I thought I would try my passion out and see what ended up happening – I ended up getting a role in a TV show. When I came back in the winter, I ended up deciding I would pursue this [acting career] further. This is how I would describe my ‘transition.’
GS: Figure out what you like, pick it up as soon as possible. I think it happens naturally and it’s not something that happens overnight.
TSL: If you could give one piece of advice to seniors at the Claremont Colleges, what would it be?
BO: I would say pursue a lot more activities while you’re in college. You have a lot of resources at hand. Once you’re an adult that won’t be easy because you’re going to have to make money.
GS: There are going to be a lot of moments of frustration, anxiety, and you might doubt yourself, and be frustrated about your situation/what field/what you do. Know that it is very common and very natural, and that the majority of people have been there, and that it’s not a ‘you’ thing.”
TSL: Can you please address these concerns of senior college students?
TSL: “I’m afraid I’m not going to have a job.”
BO: (Laughs.) You’ll definitely find a job. It may not be a good job, but you will easily have a job.
GS: I think, kind of similar to what I was saying, it’s very normal to feel that way. I think a lot of people are going to feel anxious and nervous. But to give advice, the way to go is to start looking now, whether it be a letter of recommendation or a job, you know, for the summer which can turn into a job.
TSL: “I hope I will be able to do something I really like and am able to support myself.”
BO: I feel like if you choose something you really like, chances are you might make less than if you choose the higher paying job. I think that’s just another trade-off you’ll have to accept. And I think as millennials, you’ll usually go for the one that pays a little less but gives you sanctity of mind, or whatever.
GS: From an ideological standpoint, everyone wants to do something they love and get paid for it. I think that there are definitely points of compromise that are required. Do you care more about the lifestyle or the job? (Laughs.) That’s a tough one.
TSL: “I’m afraid my major will be irrelevant.”
BO: It almost always will be irrelevant, so it doesn’t matter. I feel like if you went to the Claremont Colleges, you went there for breadth and not because you [wanted] a degree that is particular to what you do after college.
GS: Yeah (laughs). I totally feel that. I wanted to go to law school and majored in political science and sociology. Now everyone makes fun of me because I work in Entertainment. Worry more about interpersonal skills, work, and other soft skills as opposed to focusing on your major.
TSL: “I’m afraid I’m not going to have money.”
BO: (Laughs.) (Pauses.) I was privileged enough because my parents supported me when I didn’t have a job. I don’t think they have to worry because you have a lot of built- in support. There are always people willing to help. Don’t be afraid.
GS: Well, if you’re in LA that’s definitely going to happen (laughs). I guess my response to that would be, you know, that it is dependent on the field that you’re getting into. Some fields are much better paid than others. I think this is all the same anxiety as the other. You have to worry about things you didn’t have to worry about much until then. However, you do your job and eventually you will get money.
TSL: “I’m worried I’m going to feel a little bit lonely.”
BO: Well, you just have to make new friends and focus on your passion. I feel that you have to have some sort of hobby where you meet people I did Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to meet people. Or, you go to networking events and meet people that way. If you stay at home everyday after work, you are definitely going to feel lonely because it’s not that sense of community you had in college.
GS: Yeah (laughs) … that’s valid. Particularly our school environment, with everything being on campus and having a sense of belonging, I do think you get more connected to your peers than other schools. Once you graduate, your entire life and routine [are]is going to change. The things you are going to be spending your life doing are going to change. I think sometimes there is a certain feeling of loneliness that comes. However, that should go away once you get used to the new lifestyle. You’ll make new friends and make new connections.