Erin Berthon

Erin Berthon, MA Career Advisor, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, at Chapman University

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020 and 2021, and welcome to the Wilkinson Alumni community, where connections and networking are more important than ever.

I love when alumni reach out to me to share their success stories and take the time to talk with me about their experience as a Wilkinson College student. Grace Papish ’20, who graduated with a degree in political science and broadcast journalism wanted to share her experience and address fellow Wilkinson 2020 graduates on how Wilkinson prepared her for a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding job.

Erin Berthon: Where are you working/ what do you do?

Grace Papish: I’m part of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Communications Team, mainly doing writing and message crafting.

EB:  How did you land the job?

GP: After about 8 months of applying to jobs in the particularly rough 2020 job market, fellow Wilkinson alum and now coworker Mitchell Rosenberg told me that a position on the Governor’s Communications Team was opening. At first, I wasn’t sure about applying because I was about to move overseas, but that trip ended up falling through. Thankfully the position was still open so I sent in my resume, had 2 interviews, and was offered the position

EB:  Did 2020 hinder or make it easier? Or what did you do differently?

GP:  2020 was definitely a difficult year to graduate, and as my fellow graduates can attest, finding a job was extremely hard. But, it did teach me a valuable lesson: not everything in life will go according to plan, so you have to stay flexible and roll with the punches.

GP: How did Wilkinson prepare you for a career?

Papish: Wilkinson gave me a strong foundation to be able to understand the complexity of America’s political landscape and the literacy to understand policy and legislation. This helps me

Grace Papish ’20

immensely in my current role, as a lot of my job is having to quickly understand the policy for briefs, scripts, and other written material, and then write about it in a way that resonates with the general public.

EB:  Did you have any mentors or support that helped you along the way?

GP: Dr. John Compton—thank you for all of your guidance throughout the years and dealing with all of my frantic emails,  and Dr. Sandra Alvarez—thank you for expanding my mind and the way I see the world.

EB: Did you have an internship? How important was that for you?

GP:  Yes! I highly encourage students to pursue as many internships as possible. It’s so great to have some experience on your resume when you leave school, and it teaches you what you do—and don’t—want to do. Luckily, all of my internships were pretty successful.

EB: What do you want to tell the students – advice?

GP: If you can, DO THE WASHINGTON SEMESTER PROGRAM! It is such a cool experience and places you right into the heart of politics. I made lifelong friends and connections from my semester, even though my time in DC was cut short due to COVID.  I just got this advice today from a coworker, which I thought was incredibly poignant—your best network connections are going to fall into place naturally. These are going to be your work friends, your friends from college, your professors, etc. Not to say you shouldn’t keep working to build your network, but the folks that are going to stick their necks out for you when it comes down to it are the ones that you have genuine connections with. Heck, the reason I have this job now is that a high school/college friend gave me a heads up. So don’t stress so much about meeting the “most important” people–just build genuine connections, be kind, and work hard.

Congratulations Grace and to all the students in the classes of 2020 and 2021. While the past few years of your college experiences were far from traditional, they provided students with unique skills. that those in your position could have. Class of 2020/21 now have the ability to successfully learn and collaborate in a virtual setting and have likely obtained improved time management and prioritization skills, all of which will suit you as you transition into the workplace.

Just remember that we are your career connection for life and will always be here to assist you in all your professional endeavors. Our services are free and forever! Good luck and see you soon.