Adulting 101 to train students' eye on their future

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

It’s time to grow up.

College students hear it all the time, to the point where it gets old. But in its quest to help them land quality jobs after graduation, Grand Canyon University keeps looking for constructive ways to get that message to grow on them.     

The latest offering is a new series of Adulting 101 webinars organized by Academic and Career Excellence (ACE). From Monday, March 15, to Friday, March 26 (see schedule and links below), ACE will feature sessions designed to cover everything from developing a brand to paying the utilities bill.

For some people, those are equally challenging tasks. 

And the must-see moments will be two appearances by Edward Jones financial advisor Angelica Prescod, who will give talks titled “Essentials to Adulting” from 4 to 6 p.m. March 22 and “Life after College” from 3 to 4 p.m. March 24. Spend five minutes talking to her, and you easily can see how fast those three hours will pass.

“We’re going to talk about their ability to budget but also what opportunities they have to grow their assets as well,” she said. “We’re going to talk scenarios. What happens to John if he has $500 left over after he pays all of his bills? We’re going to create that reality check.

Edward Jones financial advisor Angelica Prescod will give students valuable tips about money and life.

“Let me show you what a savings account does, and let me show you what an investment does across time. What does it look like for John 10 years from now if he keeps it at the same level of saving?

“I’m doing a lot of forward thinking with them. I’m also talking about assessing their budget – the cost of what they’re doing or not paying attention to can cost them long term.”

Prescod talks passionately about avoiding those $24.95 trips to Starbucks twice a month and investing that money in Apple stock instead. “Do it for 20 years, and you’d be sitting at a million dollars while investing only $12,000,” she said.

It won’t be as if the message is coming down from on high. Prescod emphasizes being down to earth and relatable.

“It will look like me chatting with them in a hangout,” she said. “They’ll literally be chatting it up with me. It needs to feel like a fireside hangout. I’m not going to have a suit jacket on. There will be relatability like nobody’s business.”

The “Adulting 101” idea grew from a meeting of administrators from ACE and academics. ACE Director Marette Hahn said the a-ha moment came when Dr. Mark Wooden, Dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, suggested, “We should have something about ‘adulting.’” 

“We all said, ‘What would students need to know before they leave here?’” Hahn recalled.

Marette Hahn

Some of it might seem basic to older adults, but if you haven’t done it before …

“A lot of these students don’t know some of these really these important things about how all of a sudden, yes, you’re responsible for paying utilities bills and putting ketchup in your fridge and selecting your medical insurance and contributing to your 401(k),” Hahn said.

ACE is about a lot more than where to put the ketchup, of course. Working in concert with Strategic Employer Initiatives & Internships (SEI) and its all-encompassing Career Connections website, ACE works to prepare students for a career and then help them get the interview and land the job.

Merpan Milaham knows just how useful Career Connections can be.

The senior majoring in information technology with an emphasis in cybersecurity applied for internships through Career Connections last year, then met with an advisor who helped him with his cover letter and resume. He got the position.

Merpan Milaham

“This year I thought, ‘It worked the first time, so why don’t I try it again?’” he said.

He’s 2 for 2. He has lined up a job with Colorado-based Fast Enterprises after he graduates in April.

Milaham, who came to the United States from Nigeria four years ago and attended a junior college in Northern California before coming to GCU, was hired by the ACE Centers after his first semester on campus. He credits his supervisor, Makayla Griffin, for helping him reach his goal.

“She helped me with my cover letter, reviewed my resume, did mock interviews,” he said. “She encouraged me the whole time.”

ACE helps its own, ACE helps everyone. Students are urged to utilize its vast array of resources.

“I’m really excited about some of the recent gains we’ve been making with this outreach campaign,” said Lionel Williams, who like Hahn is an ACE Director. “We at ACE, we realize that career exploration, preparing for a job, all the steps to get that job, it’s a daunting concept for a lot of students. We’re trying to build that awareness that we have a lot of resources, services that are easily accessible to them.

Lionel Williams

“We’re engaging these students. We’re engaging a lot of seniors who are nearing that finish line just to educate them. We want to go to that further step of linking to the next steps – RSVP’ing to these workshops, getting them connected with an ACE advisor, helping them with job searches and even submitting applications on Career Connections.

“Regardless of COVID-19 and all the challenges it has brought, there are numerous job opportunities available right now for those who are willing to intentionally and patiently engage the process.”

And there’s nothing better than watching a student who engaged the process engage a new job. Hahn was struck by how many students sought help last summer when the pandemic was wreaking havoc on the job market, and she's thinking that she'll see this scene get replayed again and again this summer:

“One of my favorite parts about career development is that oftentimes, students come to us defeated or feeling like they don’t have much to offer and are thus intimidated about building their resume and applying for jobs. When students meet with our advisors, we help them see, understand and articulate the incredible skills and abilities they already have and help them figure out how to articulate the value they can bring to an employer.

“They often start to sit up a little straighter, lean in a little farther, smile bigger, and they often leave feeling so much more confident and ready to take on the world. It is the best feeling in the world to watch students gain their confidence literally right in front of your eyes!”

Just like that, they’ve grown up. Next up: the utilities bill and the ketchup.


Monday, March 15, 1-2 p.m.: Developing your Personal Brand

Tuesday, March 16, 1-2 p.m.: Resume and Cover Letter Development

Friday, March 19, 11 a.m.-noon, Interviewing and Professionalism

Monday, March 22, 4-6 p.m.: Essentials to Adulting

Wednesday, March 24, 3-4 p.m.: Life after College

Friday, March 26, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Mentor Session and Debrief

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: Awards reflect faculty's fervor for students' future

GCU Today: Onward, upward: GCU helps students step into jobs

GCU Today: Virtual career fairs come in handy for students


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