It only takes one day, one student for a change

by Staff

Howard Tu’s struggles are akin to the struggles of every student. Settling on the perfect career had its own obstacles. Yet, he did what few students would.

Tu, a senior at San Diego State who is majoring in integrated marketing with communications and minoring in psychology, was unsure about the consulting career he wanted to go into at one point because he did not have a clear vision of it. Consulting had a lot of subdivisions, according to Tu.

“For example, you want to go into consulting but there are a lot of consulting fields within the industry such as IT consulting, new business consulting, pharmaceutical consulting, and there’s even advertising consulting,” Tu said.

Another obstacle people face is not having the right connections that might help them get to their dream job, according to Tu. Students have a hard time settling on a perfect career because they don’t know the details about the path they are choosing. In answer to this dilemma, Tu started the one-day job shadow program that allows students to be set up with professionals in the field they are considering.

“What motivated me (to start the program) was that I am about to graduate, like a lot of my friends, and the one conversation we always have is what we are going to do after college, what jobs we want to go into.” Tu said.

He said that many students that graduate get the first job that they are handed, regardless of whether or not they like it. Tu created the program to simplify the process of finding a career.

“It’s a one-day job shadow program,” Tu said. “What we do is match one student with one professional in the areas of business whether it is marketing, real estate, finance, accounting, information systems, consulting or sales. This is to help them understand what it takes to make it in that industry.”

Tu worked on perfecting the program for one year before it was launched last spring. Eighty students applied and 14 were accepted. Out of 30 companies that applied to participate, eight were accepted. The companies included The San Diego Union-Tribune, Considine & Considine, Golden Eagle Insurance, eBoost Consulting, Konica Minolta, Aflec and many more. Because of its success, the program was systemized and will continue to offer job shadowing for the fall and spring semesters of every year, according to Tu.

“It was very successful,” Tu said. “Both the students and companies really enjoyed it. Some of them find out that what they wanted to do was the right business field to get into. Some students find out that the job that they wanted in the beginning wasn’t meant for them. And that’s exactly what we want to accomplish.”

Linh Pham, a marketing and public relations major who graduated from SDSU last spring, enjoyed her experiences with the program. Pham was paired up with the community and public relations manager of the U-T.

“During the (job) shadow, I got to talk on the U-T’s live web radio program, which is a talk radio show that is accessible over the Internet,” Pham said. “I also got to sit in on a meeting to plan the next Kid’s NewsDay, which is a day the U-T donates a portion or all of the newspaper sales to Rady’s Children’s Hospital.”

Pham also toured the U-T office. Her experiences helped her understand some of the details of the career she wanted to go into.

“I got a little more understanding about how things work at the newspaper, such as who writes what, what people do and how communication is passed on internally particularly at the U-T,” Pham said.

The job shadow program helped Pham to know more about the daily activities of a public relations expert and the kinds of skills that a PR expert must have. After her experiences, Pham felt that the PR field was still a good career path for her.

The requirements for participating in the program are that students must be studying a business-related major and have a grade-point average of 2.0 or above. Despite the low GPA threshold, Tu said that there is a filtering process through which candidates are chosen to participate in the program.

“We actually have an application process we go through to filter out the best students that will benefit the most from it,” Tu said. “There is a seven-page application that each student has to fill out and the questions are very in-depth.”

For students who are on the borderline of not being accepted, Tu conducts telephone interviews in an effort to filter out the most qualified. Tu hopes that the job-shadow program will be so advanced in the future that a student can participate more than one time.

“The ideal is that there is no limit but we do at the same time want to provide opportunities to as many different students as possible,” Tu said. “But we hope to expand the program to the point where we can satisfy every student’s needs, even if it means allowing them to participate in the program more than one time.”

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