By, Alex Margolin and Marissa Kitazawa
As 2 recent college grads, we both had to face the incredibly daunting question of what to do after college. While students at Pitzer College, when not recycling and hugging trees, both of us were very active in the Asian American student groups on our campus. But as graduation drew near, it was difficult to see how our involvement in the API community could lead to work outside of entering graduate school (which neither of us were or are ready for). Here is a little bit of our stories, and how we came to work in a non-profit:
Alex- In May of 2009, I graduated with a B.A. in history with the plan of eventually getting a Ph.D. in Korean history. However, while I loved the world of academia, I wanted to take a step away and see if I missed it before I committed to a 12 year graduate program. So I went in the opposite direction and began working at a start-up company doing sales, marketing, and customer service. While there, I looked around me and realized that there was not a single person’s job that I wanted to do. This was not where my future was going to be.
Thanks to my lovely friend Marissa, I found out about a job at JACL-PSW working in their program department. The more that I found out about PSW and the type of work I’d be doing, it surprised me how much my work with Pitzer’s Asian American Sponsor Program prepared me for work at the JACL. For me, the Asian American Sponsor Program was not something that I worked at to put on my resume, it was my home, family, and community while I was at school.
When I began my job search as a college senior, this was not a route that I thought to explore. But in working at JACL, I’m able to work everyday in a community that I care about with a group of awesome fantastic people who share have the same passion.
Marissa- In May of 2010 I graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and Economics and the same persistent question that everybody seemed to be asking was: “Well what are you going to do with that?” I would respond by saying, “Eventually I want to attend grad school and get my masters in some type of social documentary filmmaking.” And then they would respond by saying, “So what are you going to do in the mean time?”
So what was I going to do in the mean time? While at Pitzer, I focused my studies specifically on the concepts of media praxis. Media praxis, for me, is the idea of integrating theoretical concepts with the practice of media. At school, I also took several Asian American/ Ethnic Studies course with amazing Professors such as Kathleen Yep, Lynne Miyake and Alex Juhasz. It was through their classes (and several others), that I was introduced to the teachings of Paulo Freire, Ira Shor, Mari Matsuda, Glenn Omatsu and many others. All these amazing scholars integrated their educational practices into the community in order to create social change. It was through this realization that I began to question my own identity as a student/filmmaker of color and my own position within the community.
Somewhere along the way, I was referred to this job, Program Associate, Cultural and Community Program. After reading the job description, I felt like this could be a great opportunity to allow me to utilize the knowledge I gained in college and as a student leader/organizer in order to continue my work in the community. (It also is a huge plus that I get the opportunity to be working again with one of my best friends and life mentor, Alex, as well as the amazing JACL PSW staff.)
Alex and Marissa-
Well this is where our life has taken us, whether we expected it to or not. Although we are not sure where this road will lead us, we are looking forward to traveling parts of it together.
So what about you? How did you get to where you are now? Are you looking for a job after college? Do you have any questions for us about working at a nonprofit?
Ask us, we’re happy to answer.