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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    When ‘What next?’ becomes ‘What now?’

    Spring 2008 graduate Joe Eleid had a two-tiered tactic in mind when he chose to become a biochemistry major as a freshman at the UA four years ago.

    “”I wanted to have something to back up med school and something to fall back on if I didn’t get in,”” he said.

    With the hopes of becoming a doctor, Eleid considered the versatility of a biochemistry degree.

    “”Everyone was telling me that biochemistry is the wave of the future,”” he explained. “”It’s one of the best majors in my opinion because it connects you to everything.””

    But regardless of the degree’s added benefits, Eleid, like many other recent UA graduates, is still hard-pressed to find a job that suits his needs. He returned home to Prescott to live with his parents after – like many future doctors – an unsuccessful bout with medical school applications, as well as being strapped for cash.

    “”I ran out of money and didn’t have a job by the time I finished school,”” he said. Eleid now works as a front desk attendant at a hotel in Prescott – a job he has kept for the last eight years in between studying at the UA.

    Though his current job is unrelated to his degree, Eleid described himself as being “”lucky”” to have such a steady position – luckier than many college students – especially in the face of a looming economic crisis.

    Like Eleid, 2008 physiology graduate Melissa Wandoloski is getting by with the aid of her parents.

    “”I’m totally dependent on my parents because I don’t have a job,”” she said. Wandoloski began the search for the right employer long before she graduated, but discovered that the process was far more daunting than she had expected.

    “”Posting your resume, signing up for accounts, reference letters you have to send; people don’t get back to you the next day. If an interview doesn’t go well, you have to start over again,”” she said.

    Despite the trouble she faces in finding a job, Wandoloski, who someday dreams of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon, fully grasps the importance of an undergraduate degree. She said that graduating from college “”isn’t even a question”” in the society we live in today, especially considering the challenges of finding a job without a diploma in hand, much less the competition that students face in the employment market.

    Wandoloski conveyed unease with the fact that many college students have taken the too little, too late approach to their four years at UA.

    “”People don’t really take their four years seriously until they’ve graduated and realize they’re in the real world. You haven’t looked for jobs, networked, applied…people need to be looking for jobs,”” she said. “”That’s the only reason I was qualified – doing research.””

    Some students know the direction they want to take from the start, even if they know their futures may be unsteady. That’s the case with Kerry Margolin, a recent dance graduate. Margolin, a New Hampshire native, said that pursuing a degree at the UA was important to her future not only as a dancer, but also as a student.

    Realizing there was only one chance to experience college, Margolin said attending UA was the only path she was ready to take – she wasn’t prepared to head to New York City to pursue dance auditions directly after graduating from high school. However, she said the difficulties she would face as a dancer were apparent from the start.

    “”I always knew what was in store for me in terms of finding a career. The dance world is tough and unstable,”” she said. “”Just a year ago, I was completely dumbfounded at the idea of getting a job because it seemed like an impossible feat. There’s so much competition, and it’s risky.””

    Margolin, who is also living with her parents, explained that much of the instability in the dance world comes from the fact that so many dancing jobs are short-term.

    “”Finding auditions is tough sometimes. The biggest problems are time conflicts and financial strain, because I usually have to fly to another city to get to the audition,”” she said. “”It’s hard to fly across the country for an audition in LA because it just costs so much money and time.””

    Having previous experience can also be a burden when searching for the perfect job. Eleid noted that his challenge in job hunting was finding an employer who was willing to provide him with a little bit of know-how before he re-applies to medical school. Some of the frustration he’s dealing with comes with the catch-22 of a company that is seeking qualified employees, but unwilling to give an employee experience in the first place.

    “”I want something that’s part-time where there’s not going to be that big of a commitment to staying with a company, but who’ll let me in and have some sort of experience,”” he said. “”A lot of the jobs that I’ve applied to want you to sell your soul, or they’re just … it’s one way or the other.””

    Eleid said that one of his main challenges is finding a job that gives him a true pre-medical environment to work in. He said that he could easily “”write a good cover letter”” and work in a chemistry lab, but said that his real passion is patients.

    “”I’m motivated for a job working with people – preferably patients in a clinic. I can greet patients, arrange files for doctors – I applied to some caretaker jobs,”” he said.

    Eleid did make one important observation during his time as a UA undergraduate, however, which landed him a part-time job with the university during the upcoming fall semester.

    “”It’s who you know and what you know – I had a friend in biochemistry who graduated and was a TA, knew I was looking for a job and hooked me up. I didn’t even know that I could teach a bio lab,”” he said. “”I’ll be a TA technically, but I’ll still be teaching two sections of the course. That’s why I wanted a part-time job on the side, because there’s only two labs.””

    But even in the face of hardships that new graduates are facing, many seem to be optimistic about their futures in professional careers, and about using the degrees they’ve obtained from the UA.

    Margolin said the training she received from UA dance faculty prepared her for the real world of dancing and also taught her about real possibilities for her future. She said that dancing is not about money or celebrity status, but instead has to do with a dancer’s passion for their craft, which is how dancers “”find a way to keep their dream alive”” even when times are difficult and money is hard to come by. But with her new degree and a lot of hard work, it appears Margolin’s dream is coming to fruition, she said. Having recently auditioned for the Rockettes in May, Margolin made the final cut of 20 girls out of 150 who initially auditioned.

    “”It’s one of the most stable dance jobs you can get,”” she said. “”I’ll hopefully get a call by Aug. 31 or sooner, but my chances are pretty good. No matter what, I’ll be dancing somewhere.””

    Wandoloski expects that she’ll be able to use her new degree, too. “”I think six months from now, I’ll be in some sort of research job, and a year from now, I’ll be getting ready to go to med school,”” she said.

    And while Eleid’s summer hasn’t gone exactly as planned, he is still ready to tackle medical school again in the near future.

    “”I didn’t get in this year, so I’m obviously re-applying and taking the MCAT again, to get in on the next try. Maybe I’ll teach biology again in the spring,”” he said. “”It’ll be nice to stay connected with the university in that way, because I really like UA.””

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