Oscar Moreno, a junior majoring in film and television production, sat transfixed as nine alumni panelists and about 20 other invited alumni shared details of their college days as well as how they’ve attained success early in their careers.
“I learned about what life is like after graduating, what to be prepared for, interviews, internships,” Moreno, a first-generation college student, said of information that alumni shared.
This sort of exchange was precisely what director of Alumni and Family Programs and alumna Gayle Ball-Parker (Class of ’78, B.A., psychology) had in mind when organizing the Alumni Career Chat: New Year, New Goals event in partnership with University Housing and Toro Productions.
“Our first Alumni Career Chat was a huge success. Not only did we have an overwhelming response from alumni who wanted to participate, but the students who attended were fully engaged throughout the event,” said Ball-Parker.
Moderating the Jan. 29 event, admissions supervisor at CSU Dominguez Hills and alumna Khaleah Bradshaw (’09, B.A., English) presented a series of questions, including those generated by some of the more than 50 students who packed the University Housing commons hall. Participating alumni provided a range of answers and advise, from how to select a profession to getting involved on campus and participating in community service to help build a professional network.
“Make sure you’re doing mentorships and things of that nature, putting yourself out there, and learning more about your career choice,” urged alumnus Ronnell Hampton (’12, B.A., negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding).
Hampton went on to say that students should stay focused on their ultimate career goals, even as it evolves.
“I’m still defining my career. It’s a lifelong process,” said Hampton, who is a personal banker for Wells Fargo working toward becoming a community development specialist.
Alumna Tashiana Bryant (’09, B.A., sociology), a residence life coordinator at Cal Poly Pomona, recommended the students start to build their network whether through honor associations, clubs, or organizations on campus.
“Build your network, people that you meet, people that you know, meet as many people as you can; you never know. Somebody in this room may be the next president of the United States, somebody in this room may be the next CEO of a company that we haven’t even heard of before because they’re going to invent that company. And guess what? You have the opportunity to know that person today,” Bryant said. “So, build your network because when you get out there [in the job market]. Even if you’re the smartest person in the world, you’re going to need somebody to help you.”
The event also featured resource tables represented by staff members from the Career Center, Center for Service Learning, Internships and Civic Engagement, Office of Student Life, and Associated Students Incorporated (ASI), as well as a networking session that followed the panel discussion.
During the networking session, freshman psychology major Bria Hill sought to learn academic inroads from alumna Ashli Logan (’09, B.A., psychology), because they share the same major, as well as to connect with assistant complex coordinator at CSUDH University Housing and alumna Chauncei Johnson (’11, B.A., English), who spoke about being independent.
“I still have the support of family but, it was inspiring to know that Chaun didn’t really have anybody but herself and she was still able to get things done. It let me know that there’s no excuse why anybody can’t be successful,” Hill said.
Lakia Jackson, a freshman majoring in communications, was unsure exactly what she wants to focus on in her communications career, but through listening to alumna Brittainy Spivey (’11, B.A., communications), who is a music and movie advertising review specialist at ZEFR, a company which licenses clips from movie studios to share on the web, Jackson was inspired to concentrate on mass communications in her major as preparation for a career in the entertainment industry.
Learning how the alums overcame struggles or excelled in school also reminded Jackson of the importance of staying on top of her studies and time management, and helped her to “understand what I need to do to stay focused.”
“I didn’t know [the Career Chat] was going to be this big and [the alums] giving us information about how they did at this school and what they went through. I could relate to that,” Jackson said. “It actually really helped.”
Logan, a development operations manager for City Year Los Angeles, told the students, who were mostly freshmen, that she regretted not better planning for what would come after graduation.
“I got through school. I didn’t think about grad school, I didn’t think about a job, I didn’t think about anything. And I wish that I would have had this panel in the dorms so that way I could appropriately set myself up for success,” Logan said. “Make sure you guys have a plan for after you graduate, and your plan starts the first day you start your freshman year.”
Zahid Ahmed (’10, B.S., business administration) analyst, County of Los Angeles
Elvin Anderson (’11, B.S., criminal justice administration), cofounder and president, New Beginnings For Youth
Jerry Arredondo (’04, B.S., business administration), creative director, AC Grafx,
Barbara Gomez (’05, B.A., liberal studies), regional education coordinator, CSI Support and Development Services
Betzabeth Gomez (’07, B.A., Chicano/Chicana studies), corporate recruiter, Verizon Wireless
Mike Haro (’08, B.A., recreation and leisure studies), area sales manager, Coca-Cola
Ebony Martin (’10, M.A., negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding), contracts manager, Raytheon
Additional Invited Alumni:
Sam Awolope (’12, B.A., psychology), behavioral aid and therapist, Switzer Learning Center
Mardel Baldwin (’12, B.S., business administration), former CSUDH ASI president, enrollment specialist for the M.B.A. and Graduate Programs Office, CSU Fullerton
Nathan Brown (’13, B.A., digital media arts), co-owner and photographer, B&G Productions
Knajula Edwards (’10, B.S., business administration), associate, World Financial Group
David Gamboa (’05, B.A., communications), director of government and community relations, CSU Dominguez Hills
Jasmine Gray (’12, B.A., communications), founder and CEO, Image is Everything Public Relations
Ronnell Hampton (’12, B.A., negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding), personal banker, Wells Fargo
Felicia Hernandez (’13, B.S., public administration), interim executive assistant to vice president of University Advancement, CSU Dominguez Hills
Carlos Hudgins (’06, B.S., business administration), owner, Cre8tive Synergy
Kristina Londy (’10, B.A., liberal studies), coordinator, CSUDH Multicultural Center
Joy Masha (’10, B.A., human services), former CSUDH ASI president, district representative, California State Assembly
Victor Reyes (’13, B.S., public administration; B.A., labor studies), union steward, Local 44 International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
Alex Romero (’12, B.A., liberal studies), player development and international operations assistant, Los Angeles Dodgers
José Solache (’06, B.A., liberal studies), former CSUDH ASI president, City of Lynwood council member, Lynwood Unified School District board member