Human Of The Week: Grace L.

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Interview by GradSimple with Grace L, History graduate of the University Of British Columbia (UBC).

Disclaimer: The views expressed by our interviewees are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of GradSimple. We only edit these responses for clarity. All opinions remain those of the interviewee.

  • Name: Grace L.
  • Grad Year: 2021
  • University: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Major: History
  • Current Job: Account Manager

What do you do for a living?

I’m an account manager at a fintech startup. I have customers that are assigned to me, and I meet with them as needed to assist with everything from technical support to product upsells and account setup.

Can you tell me about your job search experience after graduation? Does your job have anything to do with your degree? How quickly did you find work?

My job search journey was kinda easy, if I’m being honest. I know that’s really not what everyone wants to hear. I started looking for jobs about five months before graduation. I didn’t have much luck initially, but I also had no idea what kind of job I wanted. I’m still working on figuring that out.

It was my boyfriend who found the job I ended up getting. It was with a financial technology startup that he actually wanted to apply to (for a different role). He didn’t get the job, and I did. It was a customer support role – ew, by the way. Customer support sucks. But, I took the job because I didn’t know if I’d be able to find a better one. This role didn’t pay especially high, but it had great benefits and the company had a bright future.

Three years later, I still work for the same company as an account manager. Wooo, moving up the ladder! Hahaha. It’s far from my dream job, but I make a good salary and have learned a lot of transferable skills. I like my coworkers and my manager. I work on my side projects after hours which bring me a lot of fulfillment. I’m happy.

I don’t want to stay in this role or industry forever. Not even for the next five years, really. But I’m still deciding what it is I truly want to do, and I think that’s okay. Twenty five is young. Thirty is young.

It’s never too late to figure things out and pivot if what you’re doing isn’t for you.

Why did you choose your major? Would you still pick this major now, if you could go back in time?

History was always my favorite subject in school. There were pieces of nearly every topic and time period that piqued my interest. Growing up, my dad and I would watch the History channel every weekend. I always begged my family to take me to museums whenever we traveled and I poured through documentaries in my free time.

So, naturally, I picked history as my major. I focused heavily on classical antiquity and American history. Kinda random, I know, but I like what I like. 

If I could go back, I’d probably still choose history. But, I’d also like to minor in something practical, ideally STEM related. I think most arts degrees will help you develop the same skills (writing, researching, creativity, communication, etc) but adding more technical qualifications can help you stand out.

I wouldn’t forfeit history entirely, though. Even though I don’t use my degree right now, I love learning, and I loved taking those courses.

If I asked you 3 years ago, what would you think you’d be doing right now (in life/career)?

Oh man, I have no idea. To be honest, I didn’t have a dream career in mind once I started school. I knew it would be nearly impossible to get a job in the history field. I’m a strong writer and have been creating stories since I was a teenager, and I’ve always wanted to write a book. Speaking from 3 years in the past, I’d hope my debut novel is under way by now (spoiler: it is).

In terms of my actual 9-to-5, I’m not too picky. I would like to think I’m doing something that flexes my creative muscles, and helps me develop new skills. I’m open to exploring different kinds of roles, so I didn’t have any one job that I really wanted or didn’t want.

If money was not a factor, what would you be working on or spending more time on?

Writing. All day. I can’t describe how fun it is to get lost in a world you’ve designed, and write about characters that you’ve created. It’s just so cool. Actually, I think being an author is my dream job. Hahaha. The thought of having deadlines imposed by a publisher kind of freaks me out, but ultimately, being able to make a living off of people reading my stories would be a dream come true.

What was your biggest struggle during college?

I have an anxiety disorder. I’m constantly stressed out about random sh*t that almost always doesn’t make any sense. It garbles my brain and makes me lose my grip on rationality. I’ve been this way for most of my life, to some degree, but college made it exponentially worse. Like, debilitatingly bad. Like, failing classes, bad.

It was during my second year when things got really horrible. My mental health nose dived into the ground. I thought I was terminally sick every single day (I wouldn’t wish health anxiety on anyone, truly). I wasn’t sure if I’d graduate because I’d goofed around too much in my first year (not even partying, I don’t drink – I just didn’t care to focus on school). I started doing terribly in classes, and ended up failing two of them.

It all culminated in two massive anxiety attacks at the end of the semester. I’d never felt so close to dying before – even though I wasn’t. At all. I called my mom in hysterics, I think I really scared her. But I’m doing a lot better now, thankfully. I have a stronger grip on my anxiety, though I’m still prone to occasional irrationality and paranoia.

What advice and/or learnings would you give to current students or recent grads?

  1. Keep your options open. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “I need to get a job in my field of study.” You don’t, and often won’t. There are so many opportunities out there, and it’s pretty limiting to only entertain the ones that pertain to your degree. 
  2. Take the time to develop additional skills, be it through side projects or starting a small business. Experience is VASTLY more important than GPA (unless you want to be like a rocket scientist or something. If that’s the case, you should probably get a 4.0). But for the rest of us, build up tangible stuff that you can add to a resume or share in an interview.
  3. Talk to your parents. Text, call, whatever. Talk to them.
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