The annual Professors for a Day event brought alumni and successful business professionals to CSUN in hopes of imparting wisdom upon current students within the business department Tuesday.
“Our career path or our path in life is often influenced by impactful people that we meet along the way,” said entrepreneur Paul Jennings, who graduated from CSUN in 1985 with a degree in marketing. “So walking into a classroom, the hope is something we say or share will have a very positive impact on one or several of the students.”
The two-day event is between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., tomorrow being the last day. Nearly 40 professionals assumed a teacher role in classes focused on marketing, business management, finance and more. A total of 95 businessmen and women will comb Juniper Hall and surrounding buildings for the two-day event. The College of Business and Economics has organized this event for the past five years.
“They’re getting exposure to some phenomenal people [and] they’re building their network of contacts,” said Kenneth Lord, dean of the College of Business and Economics. “They’re getting some keen insights into what leads to success in the corporate world and what skill sets they need to develop in order to aspire to get there one day themselves. It’s incredible professional development for them.”
Lord has worked for four other universities in his career, but said “nothing rivals” CSUN’s event that brings business professionals directly to students.
“Every place I’ve worked, students might have gone years into their profession without being able to actually interact with someone of the caliber of people who are coming here today and tomorrow,” Lord said.
Gil Breakman, a financial executive at Warner Brothers, hopes students took away some valuable lessons after his short teaching stint.
“It’s an opportunity to give back and share some of the experiences that I’ve learned in my career, some of the things that I learned here at CSUN and other things I learned in the business world that is not taught in the university,” said Breakman, who graduated in 1990 with a degree in marketing.
Omar Aldousari, sophomore finance major, felt the experience of having Breakman speak in his class was “a really good experience” and “an eye-opener kind of thing.”
“They show you a live example [of] someone you can be someday, especially if someone’s successful,” Aldousari said. “You feel like you can relate to them [and] ask them questions if you have anything to ask about the real world and all that.”
Shannon Tang, senior finance major, enjoyed the guest speaker that taught her class. Tim Wahl, general council for CitiCorp and FDIC, passed out information about current court cases to the class and told students that they should always be informed about what is going on in the real world.
“The most important thing that he told us was for all of us as students to be updated on current events. As students we go out into the real world and not many of us are updated with the current events,” Tang said. “He told us that [paying] attention to detail is the most important thing.”
Wahl told students that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are good sources to refer to when they want to read about current events.
“I definitely feel a lot more prepared,” Tang said. “The class was very interactive and he was a very good speaker. If someone did not understand he would explain.”
Phil Mundy, vice president of business development and sales for Pacrus Medical, warned of the struggle students may have getting a job after graduation.
“I really wanted the students to understand that while they’re here, take advantage of everything they can because when you get out of here, it’s not going to be as easy to get an interview with a company.”
Mundy graduated CSUN in 1971, a time in which the university was named San Fernando Valley State College. He said his experience of being teacher for a day was “fun” and would come back “in a heartbeat.”
“I didn’t see anybody sleeping [during my class],” Mundy said. “I was very happy about that.”
Erin Goldfarb, development associate for university advancement, hopes that students gain “mentoring experiences” from the event.
“Almost every single classroom will have a speaker in it and I think that’s pretty successful in itself that we’re reaching that many students and they will get to hear stories and messages from our alumni and successful CEOs.”
Goldfarb said many students have previously obtained internships as a result of meeting their class’ guest speaker.
In the past, other colleges on campus have opted to bring industry professionals to teach students how to succeed in their respective fields in the past. The College of Health and Human Development held their Professors for a Day event on March 14.
Maxwell Owens, senior communication studies major, felt that having a successful professional in his class gives him more insight into his chosen field.
“It’s just more convincing in what I’m learning and kind of connecting what my professors are saying with real life and bringing both outside of the classroom and inside the classroom together,” Owens said.