Students are preparing for final exams as another semester slowly comes to an end. However, while some students are relieved, graduating seniors are feeling the added pressure of transitioning into graduate school or finding a job in their field of study.
At this point, those who are graduating are beginning to question whether their education has actually prepared them for a career or if all the classes they took were merely a requirement to check off on the way of a degree.
Lindi Ragsdale, who is graduating with an English degree with a concentration in both creative and professional writing, feels as though her professional writing classes have served their purpose of tightening up her skills in editing. Aside from polishing her editing skills, Ragsdale has also created brochures, advertisements and written a grant for a non-profit organization, all of which she thinks will benefit her in a career in professional writing.
Ragsdale credits Dr. Catherine Kasper, associate professor, teaching assistant II Megan Sibbett, senior lecturer Wes Spradley and Professor Diane Abdo.
“Professor Abdo is a really, really harsh grader. I don’t think I got an ‘A’ the first time I took her,” Ragsdale says. “The thing that’s really helpful about her is that she doesn’t teach out of the textbook; she teaches from her experience. I find that more useful than ‘turn to page 71 and write about what you read about.'”
Ragsdale would ultimately like to write creatively or be an editor, but she has already begun her job search in corporate communications where she hopes she can prepare training manuals or marketing materials. Attending graduate school is also an option that Ragsdale would like to pursue so she can earn her master’s degree in technical communications. Relocating, however, is not an option; San Antonio is the city in which she would like to find a career in writing.
Having lived in San Antonio his entire life, Collin Magnus is open to the idea of relocating after he graduates with his degree in business. “It is unrealistic to expect that every job opportunity is going to be within 20 miles of your home,” Magnus says. “But I do know that there are a lot of companies based out of San Antonio, like Valero and Rackspace, that are very receptive and welcoming to UTSA graduates.”
Opening up a restaurant with one of his best friends is another endeavor that Magnus would like to attempt in the future. The friend told Magnus that he would worry about the cooking if Magnus would head the management side of the restaurant, which he agreed to do.
Whatever Magnus chooses to do with his degree, he believes his business courses have prepared him for a career in a corporate environment.
“A lot of the classes focus on human resource structure and the dynamic within businesses,” Magnus reflects. Most of the business classes, Magnus says, “have been where the teacher is a little bit removed, which I think is effective because it hands the reigns over to us and lets us take control of what we’re going to do. In that sense, it’s working with a team and figuring out how well you work with others.”
One of the team projects that Magnus is especially proud of is the time he and three other students were given the full creative rights in designing their semester-long project. Magnus’ team set-up tables throughout the semester and got 375 students to become organ donors, though they were short of their original goal of 500 donors.
“Given the subject matter, we got a good number,” Magnus says. “It’s not something that you want to be pulled aside and told, ‘hey, when you die…’ So, given the circumstances, we were really proud of the number that we reached.”
For sociology major Rickey Lowe, it was a course in history that ignited his passion for poetry. “I hated the class, but what I learned from the class influenced me to write poetry somehow,” Lowe says. “I never wrote poetry before, but I learned something from the class that really made me mad about slavery. I wrote my first poem and I entered a UTSA poetry contest and I won it. I don’t think I would have come to the conclusion that I wanted to write poetry had it not been for that class, so I thank UTSA for that.”
However, Lowe leaves UTSA dissatisfied with the fact that he and all other students have to take core classes. Having a core curriculum only emphasized to Lowe that he didn’t want to study science or math.
“I just don’t think that I’m going to use it,” Lowe admits. “I had to take Intro to Sociology, and that’s what led me to want to study sociology. And a couple of English courses, which I ended up loving, are what made me want to be an English minor. Everything else, it did play a role, but I don’t think that I’ll use what I studied in those classes when I graduate.”
After graduation, Lowe would like to find a job working with the youth, and if he is able to obtain a salaried position, he hopes to attend graduate school in San Antonio or Austin. What Lowe is certain of is that he wants to publish a book of his poetry, which is something he has already started.
For all soon-to-be graduates who are diving into the final weeks of their undergraduate careers, joining UTSA’s Alumni Association may ease the stress of life after graduation. The first year is free to join with an annual membership fee of $40 after the first year. After enrollment, alumni may continue to use the services provided by the Career Center, where staff can review résumés or assist with job searches. Auto, home, health and life insurance plans are available through the Alumni Association as well.