Building Community: Barowsky School of Business’ Annual Career Fair
Barowsky School of Business students dressed in their professional best strolled through the rooms in the Edgehill Mansion at Dominican University for the third annual Career Fair this past spring. They mingled and networked with representatives from over 20 local businesses and organizations, including first-timers like Morgan Stanley and regulars like Redwood Credit Union and the San Rafael Fire Department. It is an integral part of Dominican’s unique business program that has resulted in a 97 percent placement rate of graduates in full-time career positions, with an average starting salary of $60,000, over the last three years.
“We have a customized approach that rivals any school in the country and we’re very proud of that,” said Dr. Christopher Leeds, business professor and Student Athletic Representative. “We’re very practically focused on helping students build their careers.”
In addition to a full-time Director of Internships and Professional Development, the Barowsky School of Business at Dominican hosts the annual career fair as an opportunity for students to network with local Bay Area companies from several different sectors. It’s a way for both students and companies to introduce themselves to each other and build community. It’s also a great way for students to practice their interview skills and perhaps even land an internship or job.
“It’s a win win win situation for companies, students and professors,” said Sam Beldona, Dean and Professor of Strategic Management at the Barowsky School of Business. “It allows faculty to figure out what to teach and students to learn what employers are looking for.”
Businesses like the San Rafael-based CPA firm Eckhoff and Company and a team from Morgan Stanley participated because of their desire to strengthen their relationships with the school and actively recruit graduates. Katey Murphy, Senior Vice President and Branch Manager of Morgan Stanley in San Rafael wanted students who stopped by her booth to know that there are paths into her industry other than becoming a financial advisor, such as working in the digital advertising arm of the company. Like many of the industry representatives at the fair, Murphy and her colleague, Shubie Gulati, appreciated the interest in workforce success they see in Dominican’s diverse student body. And they want to let students know there are numerous options for them after graduation.
“If they can get their foot in the door, there is tremendous opportunity for catapulting into the business,” said Gulati, a First Vice President and Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley in San Rafael.
William Pagan, a recruiter at Redwood Credit Union in Santa Rosa who regularly attends career fairs at local universities, high schools and youth centers said that Dominican students consistently stand out.
“They’re very professional, engaged and well-prepared and they ask good questions,” he said.
In fact, students are given ample time for practice and preparation before they have their first job interview. Business classes are built around practical group projects that focus on real-world situations. Faculty encourage students to focus on global thinking, doing well for the community and leadership, which as Dean Beldona explains, makes them a community of learners that help each other out and makes them very attractive to employers.
Learning how to network isn’t always easy, as Leeds explained, but Barowsky staff and faculty make sure no one falls through the cracks. He said it is not unusual for him to spend time on the weekend working with a student or answering texts at 3 AM.
“I never experienced this kind of thing going through a big university,” said Leeds. “We all can observe and see if a person is really struggling. They don’t know what they need, but by the time they’re done [with the program], they do know.”
Leeds and Courtney Budesa, the Director of Internships and Professional Development, are instrumental in connecting students with the vast network of alumni, like Robert De Lambert, Fire Captain for the San Rafael Fire Department. De Lambert, who has an MBA from Dominican, is especially interested in mentoring student-athletes who are interested in public safety careers.
“My heart is here because it’s where I went to grad school,” he said. “It’s like coming back home.”
As the Student Athletic Representative, Leeds works especially close with student-athletes, which make up about 40 percent of business students and have an average GPA of 3.41. The program attracts these students for many reasons, but primarily because the faculty works closely with them to accommodate their busy schedules.
Tyler Macias, a senior on the golf team, completed an internship last semester with FanCompass, a small sports marketing firm with a list of big clients based in San Rafael and New York.
“It gave me awesome exposure to networking with teams like Manchester United and the Cleveland Browns,” said Macias.
And while this internship is one of the only unpaid positions offered to Dominican students, it pays off in the end. Ryan Breuner, a recent Dominican graduate, was at the FanCompass booth at this year’s Career Fair. He started as an intern and, after graduation, transitioned to be a full-time Senior Account Manager. He said interns are able to focus on aspects of the business that interest them, sit in on sales calls with sponsors and work directly on creative campaigns.
“The amount of effort the CEO puts into each intern makes it worth it,” Breuner said. “They make tons of connections in the sports industry and the CEO’s door is always open.”
In fact, interning at a small company like FanCompass is very similar to being a student at a small university like Dominican. Both environments provide personalized opportunities, nurtured by supportive mentors that help prepare graduates to perform their best in any kind of business setting.
“When you build bridges with the community,” said Dean Beldona, “only good things can happen.”
If you are interested in learning more about our internship and career placement program, please contact our Director of Internships and Professional Development, Courtney Budesa, at [email protected].