Bernice Delos Reyes, Class of 2020, found herself spending her last semester and graduation in a global pandemic. With classes and commencement moving online and the whole world going on lockdown, Bernice went into survival mode, unsure where to go or what to do.
A Social Research and Public Policy and Theater double major from the Philippines, Delos Reyes considered every option, from staying in the UAE to moving to Europe, to going back home. In those first few months, she cast a wide net in search of job opportunities, but it seemed like it was one dead end after another.
“When COVID happened, I wasn't really given the chance to plan and like a lot of students, I felt frustrated and hopeless,” she says. “I was literally applying in every industry, constantly emailing people, trying to land virtual interviews and seek advice from mentors.”
After her Post-Graduation Practical Training Program (PPTP) with The Arts Center at NYUAD in July 2020, Delos Reyes moved off campus to Dubai, living off her savings as she raced against the clock. With only a few weeks until her UAE visa expired, Bernice made a fateful connection that landed her an interview with a boutique marketing consulting firm, amongst other interviews in the e-commerce, culture, and consulting industries. Just weeks after departing from NYUAD, she was choosing between two offers in Dubai.
We have a saying in Tagalog about drawing your plans in pencil. It’s a constant battle to not beat yourself up if those pencil marks don't get traced with a permanent marker. There's a reason why you sketch in pencil — because you can always erase and change.
“Everything fell into place at the right time,” she says. Today, Delos Reyes is working full-time as a marketing consultant at Andarakis Advisory Services in Dubai while freelancing as an arts and culture journalist for Vice Arabia. She also co-curated an exhibition at Alserkal Avenue in December 2020 with Filipino artist Augustine Paredes, the launch of their all-Filipino global art collective Sa Tahanan Co., In the exhibit, works of Filipino artists from across the diaspora were displayed and sold to support the typhoon victims in the Philippines.
The pieces have fallen into place for Delos Reyes, though she endured many months of near crippling uncertainty to get to where she is today.
“I know that there's a huge pressure at NYUAD to have a post-graduation plan. We have a saying in Tagalog about drawing your plans in pencil. It’s a constant battle to not beat yourself up if those pencil marks don't get traced with a permanent marker. There's a reason why you sketch in pencil — because you can always erase and change.”