On March 7, the California State University, Dominguez Hills Career Center held its first-ever “Speed Networking with Working Professionals” for students and alumni. Professionals from local businesses and organizations volunteered their time to help students develop their networking and interview skills and gain insight into the working life they will embark on after graduating.
A fast-paced activity designed to allow students to share their backgrounds and career aspirations with a number of potential employers and professionals, “Speed networking” consisted of 10 rotations in which students spoke to a professional for six minutes, before moving to their right when a bell rang to speak to the next person. Students were instructed to talk about their career goals, major, and their job experience. After completing the 10 rounds, the students were able talk to the professionals they did not have a chance to meet. Around fifty-five students and alumni attended the Speed Networking event.
The event brought representatives from over 25 organizations to campus including, Holiday Inn, Robert Half International, AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group), Robert Half Healthcare Practice Division, LA County Child Support Services, Accountemps, LA County Sheriff’s Department, Farmers Insurance Group, Daily Breeze, International Trade Programs, Inc., Enterprise Holdings, Kelly Services, California State Board of Equalization, Aflac, Ultimate Staffing, Counseling4kids, Volt Workforce Solutions, LA Probation Department, Partner Engineering and Science, Inc., Office Team, Ball Corporation, Fraud Solutions, Home Depot Center, Penske Logistics, Internal Revenue Service, and FBI.
Co-sponsors of the event included the College of Business Administration and Public Policy, the Latino Student Business Association (LSBA), the College of Arts and Humanities, and the Office of Alumni Programs.
Carol Bosman-Anderson, director of the Career Center, kicked off the event by thanking the professionals for volunteering at the event and offering students the opportunity to engage in conversations with professionals, as well as receive advice of how to make the best impression in an interview. Elvis Arreola, president of LSBA, demonstrated a brief “elevator speech” before the students engaged in the networking activity.
Dateline Dominguez had the opportunity to talk to several participants at the event.
Dateline, speaking to Elvis Arreola (senior, business management): Why do you think this event was important?
EA: I think that this event was important because it prepares students to network with professionals, with less nervousness and tension. It was also a great networking opportunity because I met a few representatives who could help towards my career goal.
Dateline: Why did you want LBSA to co-sponsor the event?
EA: One of the things that motivated me to collaborate with the career center was because LBSA has hosted a similar event with alumni. This [event] caught my attention to see the types of representatives the career center would bring [and the potential to open] more doors for me and my members.
Dateline: Have programs such as these helped you to clarify your goals?
EA: At first, my passion was psychology, but now because of events like “Speed Networking” and LSBA, I am passionate about the business foundation I have built in my life.
Dateline, speaking to Fabiola Jagueri (vice president of LSBA’s public relations committee; junior, international business): How did you get involved in this event?
FJ: About a month ago Carol Bosman-Anderson and Elizabeth Powell approached me with an interesting idea. They mentioned how they wanted to hold a Speed Networking event that will let students on campus practice their elevator speech and polish up their leadership and interviewing skills.
Dateline: Why did LSBA want to help?
FJ: The Latino Student Business Association had [other] Speed Network events before and knew firsthand how important it was to get students involved … so when the opportunity came around [for] students [to meet] with professionals from the FBI, Partner Engineering & Science Inc., Daily Breeze, Port of Los Angeles, and many more we couldn’t let this opportunity pass us … we knew that the outcome … would only be a positive one.
Dateline: Do you think the event met its goals?
FJ: As a senior at Dominguez Hills I feel like we reached our goal and were able to involve and inform many students about the Speed Networking event. … I got nothing but positive feedback from the students. When I [spoke to] students who had never attended a Speed Networking event before, all they would say is that they loved it!
Dateline, speaking with Stephanie Navarro (freshman, biology): As a student at CSU Dominguez Hills, what did you expect of this event? Was it what you expected?
SN: I expected to see a crowd of professionals from different companies. The event was how I expected, but it was less intimidating [than I anticipated].
Dateline: How was the event helpful to you?
SN: The professionals were able to answer all my questions regarding employment rates, communication skills, working environment, etc.
Dateline: Do you think this event has prepared you for a future job interview?
SN: I believe this event served an important role in my understanding of the skills necessary for obtaining a job. Now I know [they involve] more than just dressing professionally when it comes to an interview.
Dateline: Why did you attend the event?
SN: I attended the Speed Networking event because I believed it was the best way to get out of my comfort zone.
Dateline: Would you encourage other students to participate in the Speed Networking event?
SN: I would definitely recommend Speed Networking to everyone, no matter what [their] major. You will not only gain experience in communicating with others, but also [take steps toward career] success.
Dateline, speaking with Felicia Hernandez (assistant, alumni programs office; senior, public administration): Why did Alumni Programs get involved with the Speed Networking program?
FH: The Office of Alumni Programs co-sponsored this Speed Networking event in order to reach out to our alumni and bring them back to campus for some professional network opportunities.
Dateline, speaking with Valerie Lunden (insurance consultant at Aflac): Why did you volunteer at the Speed Networking event?
VL: [This was an] opportunity to offer recruitment opportunities to people looking for work.
Dateline: What skills would you suggest students acquire to better prepare for future job interviews?
VL: Sales training and experience [provides] an avenue into many different careers including marketing, business and branding.
Dateline: Do you have any advice for students?
VL: Students need to acquire practical skills that translate to different occupations and make them marketable commodities. Sales is definitely an area that offers many opportunities [in a variety of industries].
- Reported by Jennifer Lopez, a freshman majoring in criminal justice and a student assistant in the Office of University Communications and Public Affairs.