One might think that someone encountering the likes of Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, *NSync, The Rock, and Angelina Jolie during stints at Motown Records, Jive Records, and NBCUniversal would be star struck. But it was a bunch of teenagers that struck a chord with California State University, Dominguez Hills alumna Lisa Collins (Class of ’06, B.A., interdisciplinary studies).
While working as a staffing and recruitment manager nearly 10 years ago at Hot Topic, a mall- and web-based apparel retail store, Collins participated in one of the company’s outreach events geared toward providing high school students with real-world business insights and extolling the benefits of earning a college degree. This prompted her to take a critical look at leaving unfinished her undergraduate degree in television and film studies from CSU Northridge.
“I hated telling a group of high school students that I didn’t graduate. So, I went to my computer and did research for college programs designed for working adults,” she recalled.
CSU Dominguez Hills turned out to be the perfect choice for ending her educational hiatus. IDS/PACE (Interdisciplinary Studies/Program for Adult College Education) at the university offered evening and weekend courses so she was able to maintain her normal work schedule. As a plus, all of her previously earned units were transferable. But other factors made deeper and longer-lasting impressions.
“The campus was intimate and quaint, but still had a college atmosphere. I loved the class sizes. I got one-on-one time with the professors,” she said. “I enjoyed the people, but not as much as learning.”
The material was broad so she was able to learn about social behaviors, different types of people and the sciences.
“Going to Cal State Dominguez opened me up to be more receptive to different experiences, different types of people,” she said. “Hearing, relating to, and sometimes agreeing to disagree with all types of perspectives and opinions. …It helps me today in my work life.”
It also helped her develop a love for learning. Collins went on to earn a master’s in management and leadership in 2012 from Webster University in El Segundo, one of that university’s satellite campuses.
“Having the foundation at Dominguez gave me a great starting point for completing my masters,” she said.
Her learning spirit and adaptability proved useful throughout her career. After working as a freelance production payroll accountant for television and film projects including “Inception,” “Get Him To The Greek,” and “Madea Goes To Jail,” an opportunity to join NBCUniversal as a human resource coordinator opened up in 2010.
Collins felt she had “been there, done that” in her career, and struggled with the decision to apply for the position although the prospect of working for the highly regarded company was attractive.
“The HR department wanted a candidate who knew production payroll and unions, and had a balance of human resources and production coordination skills,” the Studio City resident said.
Able to see that it would be beneficial for the company and in the long run for her own growth there, she considered it another learning opportunity, applied and got the job. The move was a good fit and it turned out the long run was shorter than expected.
In 2012, equipped with an extensive knowledge of the company, she was promoted to human resources generalist for Studio Facilities, and in February she was promoted to human resources manager for NBCUniversal West Coast Operations and Technical Services.
The up-and-coming professional reflected on how her education has helped her to take on new challenges.
“I received a quality education at Dominguez Hills. I honed my writing skills, my listening skills, my speaking skills,” she pointed out.
And she shared a bit of advice for up-and-coming students, “See college through. Finish it. … Think of education as your toolbox. You don’t want to open your toolbox and see that you don’t have a degree.”
Heeding her own advice has definitely worked for Collins.
For more information on the IDS/PACE program at CSU Dominguez Hills, visit cah.csudh.edu.