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How Cal State San Marcos Is Turning Students Into Professionals

September 3, 2018 2:26 p.m.

How Cal State San Marcos Is Turning Students Into Professionals


Mark James, executive in residence, Cal State San Marcos Business Professional Development Program

Related Story: How Cal State San Marcos Is Turning Students Into Professionals


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The labor force of tomorrow is in college today but translating college courses or even majors into practical careers is not always easy. And executives in residence program at Cal State San Marcos is aimed at helping undergraduate students develop a career path and learn the basic skills of professional conduct. It's a new mandatory course for students and one of the executives teaching it is author and executive recruiter Mark James. Mark welcome to the program.

Thank you very much. Good to be here.

What are the college students who are in a business professional development program like the one that you teach at Cal State San Marcos. What are they learning.

Well our first class was just Tuesday night and we went through the syllabus the syllabus includes getting ready for their organizational picture as to what they are looking for. As far as a career focus getting used to talking about themself in a networking environment beginning a career plan development program that includes resume development as well as your LinkedIn profile answering specific interview questions that will be done in a mock interview throughout the semester. Each one of them will go through practice interviews so that they get ready to handle real interviews when the time comes. Also the networking piece is huge and helping them get used to talking about themself. From a standpoint of if you're familiar with the two minute elevator pitch they need to talk about who they are how they can make a difference what's in it for the company. Sure they get hired and what kind of results that they're capable of delivering.

What are the soft skills they learn in this program.

The soft skills are are you know being able to greet people and learn how to communicate and ask questions and. And we have two different etiquette dinners that we are putting on both 1 in September late September and one in late November and these are formal dinners where they sit down and they're dressed in business professional attire. This is a program where we serve a four course dinner and they sit down and they learn how to communicate in a professional environment. And this is one of the things that they've been doing for the last three or four years at the university. And it's an incredible opportunity for students who have never really gone through this kind of a formal dinner environment you know for this generation of students.

Their careers may not look like the career trajectories of their parents. It probably won't stay with the same company for years. Instead they're going to be moving from job to job every two or three years. So how does that change the kind of job seeking skills they need.

Well you're right. The job to job type of thing is every two two and a half maybe three years. And that is the average tenure for the latest worker depending on whether it's an entry level or middle level or senior level executive. The point being that they have to be ready and they have to keep their options open and stay networked networked so that their opportunities are being brought to their attention. It is something that people don't do well once they get into a really nice you know security type role in a company. They tend to neglect their network and it's unfortunate because when things change all of a sudden they're out of a job again and they have to go back in and rejuvenate and nurture their network which is where they're going to get most of the referrals and most of the activity that comes from a job search campaign that is reliable is through networking. Of course the Internet job postings they can keep an eye on that kind of thing. But you know a lot of people see postings on the Internet and it's very competitive. And how do you reduce that you'd reduce it by working through people in relationships and letting people hear your story so that they can stay competitive and keep moving through their career.

Do you have any success stories about students who finish this business development program.

Well it's just launching right now it's just happening with the fall semester in 2018 and but we do have successes from people who went through a pilot program where they have got paid internships very quickly. They've gone in and interviewed well and they've competed against other working students who have jobs even though they had none. So the interview the mock interview training that we put them through and the resume development and the LinkedIn profiles that they've optimized have really paid off and have helped these business professional development students get more attention and be considered and offered internships which turned into full time jobs.

I've been speaking with Cal State San Marcos executive and residence executive recruiter Mark James author of Keys to the C Suite. Mark thank you so much.

Thank you Maureen. Have a great day.