It’s that time of year when students are submitting their theses and preparing to embark on the next chapter of their lives. While some are continuing their research as postdocs, others are pursuing fellowships or full-time positions outside of academia. The Graduate Division caught up with a few students, before they turn their tassels, to discuss their exciting plans for after graduation.

Alexandra Garreton, a second-year student in the School of Journalism.
Alexandra Garreton, a second-year student in the School of Journalism.

Alexandra Garreton is a second-year student in the School of Journalism who will be using her fluent Spanish and radio skills to work as an assistant producer for the Vulnerable Population Project funded by KCRW — a public radio station in Los Angeles. She will be helping produce narrative audio stories about topics in Southern California including gentrification, undocumented communities and parolees.

“It puts all of my interests in one basket,” Garreton says.

“I didn’t expect that I would get a narrative radio position in the city that I want to live in, covering the issues and kinds of people that I think deserve to be reported on.” She adds that her education at Berkeley was paramount in landing the new job. Garreton says that the faculty at the School of Journalism provided her with the training and support needed to kick-start her career.

Kelly Whitaker, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Welfare.
Kelly Whitaker, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Welfare.

Social Welfare Ph.D. candidate, Kelly Whitaker, will be pursuing a post-doctoral appointment at the University of Washington, where she will work with the School Mental Health Assessment Research and Training Center (SMART). At the university, Whitaker will be writing grants and manuscripts to apply for research funding, but she also hopes to undertake projects at school-based health centers in Seattle. She notes that the School of Social Welfare equipped her with writing and research skills that will help her succeed in a university setting.

“One of the most valuable things that I learned at Berkeley was how to balance an academic life: writing, research, service and teaching,” Whitaker says.

“Having exposure and training in those areas prepares me well for an academic career.”

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After graduating from the Haas School of Business, David Elfant will begin a global management development program at the pharmaceutical company, Roche. During the two-year program, he will rotate through four different positions at locations of his choice. For the first cycle, Elfant plans on working in Shanghai, China in a product management role. At Berkeley, he enrolled in healthcare management classes that prepared him for a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

“The subjects that I took, such as healthcare finance, helped me understand the context and tools that I will be using,” he says.

Elfant also attributes Haas’ alumni community and the networking opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area in helping him secure his new position.

Jalel Sager, a Ph.D. candidate in The Energy and Resources Group.
Jalel Sager, a Ph.D. candidate in The Energy and Resources Group.

Jalel Sager, a Ph.D. candidate in the Energy and Resources Group (ERG), will be traveling to Uganda over the summer to install a solar micogrid. Sager designed the prototype with CAL-RAE/New Sun Road, a benefit corporation he co-founded that creates renewable energy sources. He will be returning to Berkeley to teach an ERG course during the fall semester. Sager also plans to work as a postdoctoral researcher at ERG where he hopes to focus on energy policy in Southeast Asia.

“The wide-ranging but rigorous education at Berkeley has given me a unique foundation to work on projects I find exciting,” Sager says.

“Meanwhile, the intelligence and diversity of its students, faculty and staff are why I want to continue practicing here.”

Whether pursuing a position in a university or in a non-academic setting, many graduate students note that their education at Berkeley helped prepare them to enter a competitive workforce. For those still searching for a job, the Career Center and Professional Development site offers support for a range of career paths. Good luck to the class of 2015!

Categories: Headlines, May 2015
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About Melissa Hellmann

Melissa Hellmann is a second-year student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism where she's focusing on long-form writing. When she's not writing for GradNews, she enjoys reporting on Asia and human rights issues.