2019 Job Shadow Stories
Students who participated in the leadership program share their experiences
Chancellor Gary May's Leadership Job Shadow Program began in 2018. Here are some of the participating student stories in their own words.
Undergraduate, biological sciences major
"I was able to discuss one on one with Dean Brashear about what her goals are for UC Davis Med School going forward, how to manage personal and professional life, and what we believe the future looks like for medicine. Afterward, I got to tour some of UC Davis’ research facilities and meet many @ucdavis medical researchers who truly are spearheading exciting new advances in medicine!
"I’d highly recommend the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow program to any motivated UC Davis Student! Thank you, Dr. Brashear!"
Undergraduate, political science major
"As a first-year transfer student, the transition to UC Davis has been overwhelming; but with only two years to accomplish my goals I decided to apply to any open opportunities. I was lucky enough to be chosen as a shadow for Chancellor Gary May in my first quarter. During our day together I was able to sit in on his Leadership Council meeting with other campus administrators. This meeting opened my eyes to the intricacies of running an entire UC campus.
"The campus leaders I usually see as distant figures are working in our favor to better each student’s experience and make Davis a more inclusive place for all students. I was able to observe Chancellor May at two speaking events that day: The Global Climate Leadership Council and Universitas 21 (U21).
"He spoke about Davis’ commitment to innovation in combatting climate change and the importance of research collaboration with our international partners in U21. I learned a lot that day on what it takes to be an Aggie. I am appreciative of this experience and hope to strengthen my leadership abilities in the future."
Undergraduate, political science public service major
"On Wednesday morning, I walked into Mrak Hall uncertain of what to expect. All I knew was that I received the opportunity to shadow Karl Engelbach, the chancellor’s Chief of Staff. Little did I know, I would be graced with not just meeting Mr. Engelbach, but also his teammates who work closely alongside him to ensure our university thrives. By the end of the day, I left Mrak Hall with knowledge that will remain with me forever.
"Shadowing Mr. Engelbach reaffirmed to me the necessity of communication and discourse with one’s team to succeed in the professional world. Less than an hour into my shadow, I sat in on Mr. Engelbach’s recurring updates on the chancellor’s agenda to several campus leaders. Here arose meaningful conversations pertaining to many topical issues, ranging from inter-campus to state-wide affairs. While the issues were complex in nature, each member spontaneously spoke up and contributed with their own ideas. Even those who disagreed spoke up and presented their thoughts. This open encouragement of discussion remained consistent in all the meetings I sat in with Mr. Engelbach. The spontaneity and openness amongst campus leaders is a testament to the power of encouraging discourse in the professional setting. I hope to encourage this sense of open conversation as I proceed towards my professional goals.
"Additionally, my shadow day with Mr. Engelbach did not consist of me sitting in meetings with austere or emotionless administrators. Rather, I could not help but, at the very least, chuckle in every meeting I sat with him in. He always seemed to crack a joke or two during his meetings. Undoubtedly, he aimed to create a work environment which encouraged his teammates to actively converse with him. Indeed, the other campus leaders I sat with similarly shared his sense of impassioned expression during the meetings. Thus, this integration of emotion into the professional setting really shattered my preconceived beliefs regarding the necessary temperaments for running a large-scale operation.
"In the end, it takes a team that can comfortably work together to create success. Thank you so much to Mr. Engelbach and the amazing people that work alongside him for letting me peer into your day."
Undergraduate, managerial economics major
"This quarter, I had the great opportunity to job shadow UC Davis’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Christine Lovely. Throughout this experience, I supported a Talent Acquisition team with job descriptions, sourcing strategies, and advertisement methods. As well as seeing the Employee Life Cycle.
"I was able to join the Compensation Department on a phone call with the whole UC System to enhance our classification system and wage and salary program. This included analyzing classification wage tables, performance ratings, and looking at the midpoint markets for each classification.
"I also learned how the Employee and Labor Relations Department interacts between the university and its employees through the guidance on unions, policies, agreements, and background checks.
"Christine was able to share with me the four delivery commitments that she strives towards in her department: Clarity, Communication, Consistency, and Speed.
"This experience was impeccable. Thank you Chancellor Gary May for starting the #UCDavisJobShadow program and Thank you Christine Lovely for showing me the ropes of HR within Higher Education. Thank you for the inspiration! I look forward to helping people proactively, creating change, and developing strategic objectives. HR here I come!!"
Undergraduate, sustainable environmental design major
"On November 7th, 2019, I was fortunate enough to job shadow for Kelly Ratliff, the Vice Chancellor of Financial Aid and Operations for UC Davis. Kelly was a very kind and understanding leader, and managed to always pay attention to how others' thought of the situation before making her final judgments about the problem. It was really enjoyable seeing how closely she worked with the people she was talking to during her meetings, and how she seemed to keep the atmosphere of the room light even if the problem that was being dealt with was very serious.
I was able to express my own opinion as a student about the best way to communicate to working students about their jobs on campus.
"Kelly was definitely correct about having to deal with not only the budgeting problems, but also student relations and affairs in relation to the financial side of UC Davis. One of the most important meetings I was able to attend was that with Emily Galindo of student affairs discussing the UCPath problem, where many students on this new payroll system weren't getting paid. I really didn't expect to be asked a question during that intense meeting, but was able to express my own opinion as a student about the best way to communicate to working students about their jobs on campus. I was able to learn a lot about how the administration system works, the parts that move around within it, and most importantly, how each project is specifically funded and passed.
"Kelly helped guide me through each meeting, and while we weren't able to have a debriefing at the end due to something else she had to attend, it was very enlightening to see how closely she took student problems that were correlated with the university's budgeting. She gave me info on the people that she was meeting and was very encouraging when I asked questions during those intense meetings."
Undergraduate, communications and biochemistry majors
"Recently, I had the privilege to shadow Dana Topousis, our Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at UC Davis. I got to see and learn the everyday workings of the Strategic Communications department and learned about the leadership values and work ethic involved. I also got to sit on the chancellor's leadership council meeting and it was interesting to learn about the campus initiatives taken and the collective effort that is vital for the success of the university."
"A special thanks to Chancellor May for initiating the program to provide us with such an insightful opportunity!"
Rolando Ajpop Juarez
Political science — public service major
Undergraduate, electrical and computer engineering major
"This quarter I was lucky enough to be selected for the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow Program. I got to shadow Prasant Mohapatra, vice chancellor of research who is also a distinguished professor of computer science.
"That day I got to learn more about UC Davis' leadership and to participate in UC Davis' highest-profile meetings. Various topics — ranging from campus power infrastructure to joint ventures for a rehabilitation center — were discussed. Although I had very little context about what was being discussed, I was able to notice all the different perspectives that went into making a decision. All who participated in the meetings were highly qualified individuals who brought forth a diverse group of mindsets contributing to important decisions.
Overall, it was an eye-opening experience that uncovered the world of campus leadership for me.
"I also got to know a great deal more about Vice Chancellor Mohapatra in all of our interactions. He told me about his career path that led him to come the vice chancellor of research and we also discussed recent advancements in computer science. He gave me some great advice, especially about getting my research published in a journal.
"Overall, it was an eye-opening experience that uncovered the world of campus leadership for me. This experience will definitely allow me to make better decisions regarding my career and also my life in general."
Elizabeth von Klan
Undergraduate, clinical nutrition major
"This quarter, I was given the opportunity to participate in Chancellor May’s Leadership Job Shadow Program! As someone that has worked in multiple departments around Davis— Dining Services, Student Affairs and Assessment, and Occupational Health and Safety Services, I wanted one last look at how the Leadership of UC Davis coordinate all of these departments efficiently.
"I shadowed Ken Burtis, Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost. I also spent time during my shadow with Ralph Hexter, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor. I spent the afternoon getting a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the Teaching and Learning Complex, which will soon facilitate more classroom spaces, in addition to an innovative active learning space. I was also present for a meeting regarding the developing opportunities for students at the Internship and Career Center — a great resource for current students and alumni.
"As someone that has utilized both the Career Discovery Group classes and the annual Career Fairs, I was excited to hear that these opportunities will be more well-known and accessible to all students, and that I could give my input on how beneficial these resources have been for me during my time here.
"I also got to know Ken— also an Aggie alum from class of 1972. I asked him as a biochemistry and biophysics major, if he would have ever expected to be working in a Leadership position at his Alma mater. He replied he never would have imagined it early on, but his career led him back to Davis for a reason. I learned from him that I should pursue whatever excites me, even if it is unfamiliar and requires learning a new skill set. Thank you to Chancellor May and Ken Burtis for giving me this opportunity to explore Davis from another perspective!"
Undergraduate, English and political science majors
"On December 3rd, 2019, I had the pleasure of conversing with three prestigious members of the Global Affairs Department, Nancy Erbstein, Jennie Konsella-Norene, and Jim Rix. Although I was not able to shadow Vice Provost & Associate Chancellor Joanna Regulska, I was able to gain a deeper insight regarding the missions of the Global Affairs Department here at UC Davis!
"As an English and Political Science Double Major, I had entered the university as a freshman harboring the notion that I would want to graduate and work within the American politics field, most likely through entering law school. However, my meetings with Nancy, Jennie, and Jim helped me uncover my affinity for a possible passion in a different field. Nancy and I conversed about "Global Education for All," which seeks to aid students in developing skills that are needed to succeed in the exponentially growing, interconnected world that we live in today. Learning about this initiative was very eye-opening, as I learned beyond the scope of the study-abroad program that the Global Affairs department executes. I learned that this "Global Education for All" initiative also facilitated the collaboration between UC Davis students and students abroad with the use of virtual technology, and also provided hands-on research opportunities for students. I also had the pleasure to learn about her work in strengthening the development of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals in other countries abroad. Having taken an International Relations course during my freshman year, hearing about what she has down in order to meet the U.N. set goals was so fascinating!
"I then subsequently talked to Jennie, who explained to me a little bit regarding U21 (Universitas 21). U21 is a global network of research-intensive universities that collaborate internationally and nurture the exchange of global knowledge. She told me that U21 has been able to give opportunities to both students and staff alike in their pursuit of education and research. Through U21, these students and staff are able to gain perspectives and knowledge from around the world, in both the actual and virtual worlds. U21 seeks to connect universities from around the world, allowing them to collaborate and ensure that their students and future generations will inherit a sustainable world.
"Lastly, I talked to Jim, who explained to me the university's SISS initiative under Global Affairs. SISS, abbreviated for "Services for International Students and Scholars," smoothens out the process that international students and staff must undergo in order to be able to attend the university. Alongside conversing about the SISS goals and the pillars of Global Affairs, Jim and I comfortably conversed about my ambition for political science. We chatted about political theory, including Rousseau, Hobbes, Plato, and Machiavelli! I ended my program by talking about the different ideas that these different political theorists had to offer.
"From talking with these three members of the Global Affairs Office, I was able to take away the fact that everyone's journey from their undergraduate education to post-graduation does not necessarily follow a straight path. I had entered the program, riddled with thoughts of how I would incorporate my passion for English and Political Science in the real world post-graduation. I had harbored a limited perspective on what was feasible with a degree in these majors.
"Through this program, I was able to widen my perspective; my conversations with Nancy, Jennie, and Jim were an experience that will mold how I pursue my education moving forward. Although I had unexpectedly been unable to meet Vice Provost and Assistant Chancellor Joanna Regulska, I am so glad that I was able to talk to others within the Global Affairs office, hear about their ongoing projects, and also hear about their life journey and how they had ended up where they are today. Thank you, Nancy, Jennie, and Jim, for alleviating me of my built-up tension through conversing with me about your projects and life stories. My experience as a participant in the UC Davis Job Shadow program has allowed me to harbor a widened perspective on life!"
Undergraduate, human development major
"Have you ever felt like everything was falling into place? That somehow the stars aligned in a way that prepared you for your destiny? That is how I felt when I was chosen to shadow Prasant Mohapatra, vice chancellor of research at UC Davis.
"I am studying human development with the plan to obtain my Ph.D. so that I can research adversity, increasing the success rates for those who have experienced adversity. During my time with Vice Chancellor Mohapatra, I was able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day operations at the UC Davis Office of Research. Vice Chancellor Mohapatra oversees a great deal, from every research proposal to each and every animal on campus. Yes, even the hundreds of mice.
Being a leader is not about knowing every single thing that takes place or being able to balance as many hats as possible — that's micromanaging. Being a leader is surrounding yourself with other leaders.
"Sitting in on meetings that covered expansion projects, budgeting, project management and even HR decisions like raises and promotions was intriguing, to say the least. Even still, he seemed to keep a cool head and moved through every meeting without skipping a beat. I wondered how he did it, and he answered, 'Delegation.'
"The most important lesson I learned during my time shadowing Vice Chancellor Mohapatra was that being a leader is not about knowing every single thing that takes place or being able to balance as many hats as possible — that's micromanaging. Being a leader is surrounding yourself with other leaders. It's recognizing the strengths in others and utilizing that to reach a common goal. Leadership is trusting your team to make the right decisions that support the mission and vision you have set out for them."