It’s not just books and spreadsheets all the time. A newly launched College of Business Administration (CoBA) program is also teaching students some of the finer points of how to prepare for and start a successful career.

Introduced this year by Dean Dennis Guseman, the two-year pilot Student Value Improvement Program (VIP) aims to produce well-rounded graduates capable of competing for competitive jobs after graduation. The 28 students in the program meet twice a month at noon to engage in a series of topics ranging from interviewing skills, to stress management, to how to dress for success. At a recent spring semester meeting, students discussed what they learned from a career center sponsored business etiquette dinner they attended.

“I learned how to structure a two-minute commercial about myself. It’s so important to be able to market yourself. You never know when you’ll have an opportunity to speak to an executive and you don’t want to waste that,” said Steven Arizmendez, a junior with an option in management.

“The pre-dinner networking was good practice,” agreed senior Keith Michalowski. “I engaged with a lot of different people and mingled. At the dinner all the tips we learned, like what kind of foods to avoid and how to properly eat soup, helped.”

The VIP program aims to assist students with three primary goals: selection of an appropriate career, acquisition of a first job, and development of lifelong skills for success.

“With this pilot program, we are looking to provide a holistic approach that combines the strong academic foundation found in our curriculum with a broad range of opportunities for personal maturation and professional growth,” said CoBA Dean Dennis Guseman. “Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college and have not been exposed to the cultural and social events that are found in the professional business world.”

Jessie Bradley, a junior studying marketing, said she wanted to join the program to get to know some of her fellow classmates better and to become better prepared for life after CSUSM. “We’ve taken skill assessments and we’ve learned how to build a strong resume. These are important things we aren’t necessarily taught in our classes that will help us land a good job after college.”

Michalowski said he joined the program because he wants to get as much as possible out of Cal State San Marcos to help him in the future. “The personality and skills assessments, the business etiquette training, and everything else are so important to round out our education. I don’t want to be just a walking textbook that never gets a job.”

With nearly 90 percent of students remaining in the region after graduation, the VIP program certainly reflects CSUSM’s mission to educate the future workforce of the region. “Our students already distinguish themselves academically,” said Guseman. “The VIP program only serves to further round them out and provide opportunities for more experience and growth. It will give them that extra edge.”

Grads that are polished, confident and socially savvy enter the job market with a competitive advantage, an advantage that can be gained through the VIP program. The next class cohort begins in fall 2010.

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$50,000 Donation from LPL Financial Benefits Business Students and Former Foster Youth

CSUSM has received a generous $50,000 gift from LPL Financial, one of the nation’s leading financial services companies and the largest independent broker-dealer (headquartered in Boston, Charlotte, and San Diego), to support College of Business Administration (CoBA) students and ACE Scholars Services.

A total of $29,000 has been designated for six scholarships for business students, five at $5,000 and one at $4,000. The CoBA Student VIP program will receive $15,000 and $6,000 has been designated to ACE Scholars Services for general operational expenses. ACE Scholars Services is a comprehensive program that supports former foster youth in their efforts to obtain a college education.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with Cal State San Marcos to provide outstanding educational opportunities for students — the future workforce of America. Supporting these programs helps to prepare students to capture the many opportunities within the employment marketplace,” commented Esther Stearns, president and COO of LPL Financial.