Psychology for-Over | Information Center

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Editor’s Note

: Save the dates and join the fun for Rebel reunion: the rebels return October 18-22! Among the many events is the annual Alumni Awards Dinner, which recognizes outstanding individuals who represent the ideals of higher education and rebel pride. Here is one of this year’s winners.


Josh molina

’10 Psychology
College of the Liberal Arts Alumnus of the Year

If it’s hard to understand how someone who studied experimental psychology in college could go into business and open a successful Latin-inspired coffee-based restaurant chain, you are not. not alone. There was a time when Josh Molina couldn’t process it either – even while he was going through it.

“At first, I didn’t really understand how my studies at UNLV could or would be beneficial in my entrepreneurial activities,” said Molina, co-founder of Creators and researchers, a gourmet café that opened in Las Vegas’ Arts District in 2014. “But as my professional journey developed, the connection between owning coffee shops and my learning in psychology also grew. developed. Ultimately, food and drink is a people business, and managing teams across multiple outlets requires an ability to understand personalities and business relationship dynamics in a busy environment.

As he grappled with the challenges inherent in the restaurant world – in particular, the high staff turnover rate – Molina found himself turning to his psychology textbooks, looking for advice that would help him move up. employee morale and create a rewarding work environment that its staff feel invested in. “It was then that I realized that studying psychology at UNLV had prepared me for this moment,” he said. “I am grateful that I spent time studying human behavior, as I rely on these skills daily to become a better leader and a better listener. “

While many business owners would be inclined to keep these learned skills under lock and key, Molina is the exception. Not only is he a mentor with the College of Liberal Arts, but the first-generation Colombian American has recently started offering internship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students both at Makers & Finders and its sister concept, Take It Easy, a themed bakery and cafe. Colombian in Chinatown.

What is the biggest personal or professional challenge you have had to overcome?

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to affect all facets of my personal and professional life. I invested everything in Makers & Finders, and as recently as last year, I thought I had gained enough professional experience to tackle any obstacle – I thought there wasn’t a single challenge facing me. would prevent my business from growing and continuing to prosper. .

Enter COVID. Everything I thought I knew about running a business became obsolete overnight. The dismissal of 85 percent of our staff was heartbreaking, and for once in my optimistic life, the future seemed hopeless.

Fortunately, the struggle has unlocked parts of my entrepreneurial spirit that can only be accessed through these experiences. It’s built into our brand character as Makers & Finders to find a way to adapt and adjust, so after the closure was announced, senior management got together and made some crucial decisions. . The most important thing was to pivot our business model towards a take-out-only coffee. As other businesses in our neighborhood boarded, we set up on the sidewalk two days after closing, and soon after, we launched a rewards app that allowed our customers to pre-order and prepare it for pickup.

Our goal was to show common sense and persistence, and we did – in fact, when we reopened in May, we felt like we were never gone. Our revenue rebounded immediately, so much so that we increased our revenue year over year in August and September, despite 50% capacity!

Although new struggles are born from the aftershocks of the pandemic, this professional and personal experience has strengthened my entrepreneurial drive like no other experience could have.

Why was it important for you to start mentoring College of Liberal Arts students, especially aspiring entrepreneurs?

Because I know all too well what it’s like to be in their shoes. Even to this day, I have a deep connection to those feelings when you follow a hunch without knowing if it will lead you in the right direction and those brief moments when fear seems to take hold before you know how to drive it away.

Since I started mentoring students in 2019, I’ve used my experiences to illustrate that these feelings are normal and that this fear never goes away – you just learn to keep it hidden. My hope is to give the students the courage and the strength to keep fighting, no matter the obstacle. It reminds me to do the same.

What advice would you give to the current liberal arts student at UNLV who is wondering if he is on the right track?

Follow your instincts. You made the choice to join the College of the Liberal Arts for a reason that may not be entirely obvious right away – and I would know it. It took me almost 10 years after graduating in psychology to realize its importance in my personal and professional life. You may not be sure exactly how or why this degree will benefit you, but invest in it and let your experiences unfold your paths.

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