Alumnus teaches raw business skills

Alumnus teaches raw business skills

by Kelly Hillock

As an Aztec who was a businessman for 30 years, lecturer Craig Stevens brings his expertise to students in Business Administration 402.

Stevens climbed the corporate ladder after earning his bachelor’s degree in finance from San Diego State, then started his own company. When he returned for his son’s orientation at his alma mater he was impressed with the university.

“I was blown away,” Stevens said.

With a son continuing his legacy, Stevens was inspired to reconnect with his former college. He became chairman of the SDSU Orange County Alumni Association, joined the College of Business Administration’s board and eventually decided he wanted to work with students directly.

Now, Stevens reconnects with the university and its student body on a more intimate basis. He teaches a one unit, credit/no credit class that’s open to students of all majors who stand in upper-division criterion. This is offered as a once-a-week course on Wednesdays for 50 minutes. The class is titled “Explore Business Career Development,” but Stevens has given it a nickname that fits more to his liking: “Business World Brought to You: Abrupt, Raw and Unfiltered.”

The class focuses on the skills needed to land that first interview, internship or job. Stevens structures the class to emphasize networking and public speaking skills, so students entering their career will feel comfortable in a professional setting.

Stevens sums this class up with three words: “learning, leveraging, networking.” With a straightforward approach, Stevens offers SDSU students an opportunity to learn the ropes of the real world before being cast into it upon graduation.

“I don’t think any kid should be let out of SDSU without these skills,” Stevens said.

In his class, Stevens makes a point to meet with each of his students one-on-one, to better understand their goals and how he can contribute to their success. Stevens hopes his students leave his classroom with a momentum that leads to employment.

“I tell my classes, ‘I view you as a client.’ My goal is to provide a service to them,” Stevens said. “I think they appreciated that approach.”

Stevens’ class offers a variety of guest speakers during the course of the semester, allowing students the opportunity to meet professionals and hear their advice.

Despite Stevens’ claims of not being involved enough during his time as a student at SDSU, he has overcompensated by giving back to his alma mater and demonstrating the true qualities of a lifelong Aztec. In addition to his passion for empowering students, Stevens hopes to build a stronger Aztec foundation. With an alumni network of more than 200,000 and a substantial representation, Stevens believes in mutual support between SDSU graduates and the value of the SDSU experience.

“We are all part of the same family,” he said.

With all of that passion for the Aztec legacy, Stevens gives students more than a typical classroom experience.

“Broad, direct, unfiltered—they get it like a firehose,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Craig Stevens.