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BPD Success Stories

Below are real stories of student success resulting from participation in the Business Professional Development program (BUS 300 course). Read on to see how the course components helped students to create clear paths to their career goals.

You can also view our BPD Outstanding Students who are recognized at the end of each semester for going beyond course requirements to take ownership in improving their professional outcomes.

Maria Lupercio, Internship Creation (Fall 2023)

Maria Lupercio
I am a first-generation and untraditional student. I took a break from school until 2021 and decided to pursue a degree in business administration with a focus in accounting. Accounting internships are quite competitive and important in getting exposure to the public accounting field. The BUS 300 Business Professional Development course and my Executive in Residence Coach, Rick Rungaitis were great resource in helping me land my first internship. In our first coaching meeting, Rick listened to my story and was extremely supportive of how to be able to sell myself. He recommended a local firm Magnus Blue, CPA’s, and Business Advisors. With this information, I made it a priority to introduce myself at the Career Connections Night and request an information interview with Janette M. Pritchard, audit manager at Magnus Blue.
Magnus Blue did not have an established internship but were looking into creating one for the summer of 2024. Janette and I stayed in touch and in November, she informed me they wanted to have an intern this Winter. Because of my prior work history and the program being new, I was offered the position. I reached out to Rick to inform him of the offer, and he was great at providing help and cheering me on for the position. I am still interning with Magnus Blue and my time here has been great. Being able to take what I have learned in the classroom and apply it in real work is a wonderful experience. I am thankful for this experience and the support I have received.
-Maria Lupercio, BPD Student Fall 2023 and Outstanding Student Award recipient


Rae’Bel Neary, BUS 300 different from other career classes, Fall 2020

 -Rae’Bel Neary
In the Fall of 2020, I enrolled at CSUSM as a transfer student from MiraCosta College. At first, I wasn’t expecting that much from the BUS 300 class because it sounded a lot like things that I had already known or learned throughout the years in business school. But let me tell you, this class was not only one of the most fun I’ve ever had; but it was so helpful in preparation for my future business classes.
My  professor was Fiona Karsberg; and my mentor coach was Ed Scarpelli. I absolutely loved Ms. Karsberg. She was so kind and understanding. She is a great teacher, her classes were very informative, and I feel that they will resonate with me forever throughout my professional journey. Fall 2020 was a very difficult semester for all; and it was so relieving to find comfort in a class where my future goals and aspirations were being taken into consideration. This class changed a lot of previous perspectives that I had regarding my future career and what I thought I wanted. I feel everyone could benefit from this course and the weekly readings. You learn professional work skills like how to effectively write a cover letter and resume, how to conduct proper research on companies and positions, how to brand yourself through LinkedIn, and how to conduct informational interviews. When I first engaged with this class, I thought I already knew how to do all these things; but boy was I wrong. I had made so many graphic and grammatical errors in my professional profiles and documents that it is now embarrassing knowing that I ever submitted them to potential employers.
After this class, I feel so much more confident in my own personal brand and my skills of professionalism. One really amazing aspect to this program is that you are assigned to a mentor coach in the class who is supposed to help you plan out and achieve your professional goals. During Covid, it was so nice and useful to have Ed Scarpelli as my coach. He not only gave me references to reach out to; but he helped push me to keep thinking forward and positive. His guidance really helped me to create a step-by-step plan on how to get where I want to be professionally before graduation. Overall, I would highly recommend this class to all students; not just business students. Professionally, this class can definitely give you a leg up on the competition because it teaches you professional techniques and work skills that can be relevant in any career field.
-Rae’Bel Neary, BPD Student Fall 2020


Morgan Rath, BPD provides direction during pandemic, Fall 2020

Morgan Rath
I enrolled in this course because it was a requirement for my major, but I had no idea how much it would change my life in such a short amount of time.  I started the course and was immediately challenged to get out of my comfort zone. It is easy during this pandemic to sit behind a screen and close myself off from engaging in classes, but that would not be possible in this class.  Professor McLaughlin insisted that we participate every single day, to work on our personal brand, put ourselves out there, and to make mistakes and learn from them in a safe environment.  I'm so grateful that he did because I am starting to get so much more comfortable with video conferencing and public speaking. 
Throughout the course, after we would learn something about professional development, we were challenged to go out and put that knowledge into practice.  This was especially life changing for me when it came to using LinkedIn.  I had never even heard of this platform before, but now I have learned all about it in the course, and just created my profile a couple weeks ago.  Immediately after creating the profile, Professor McLaughlin pushed me even further and encouraged me to reach out to all the EIR's and connect with them.  I have had many conversations with different people who have taken the time to help me develop my profile, and have even had meetings with a couple of them via video conferencing discussing different ways to expand my network. I recently met with Mark Leibowitz, who gave me some incredible advice when it comes to making connections with people on LinkedIn.
I have also been provided with a "coach" in this course, Robert Hill.  He has helped me immensely with figuring out a career path that best suits my assets and values.  I'm a very indecisive person so having Coach Robert there to encourage me to set my goals and charge forward, has been huge.  It blows me away that all of these people have taken time out of their busy schedules to help me be more successful and have a better shot at a brighter future.  I feel like my world went from being very small, to being wide open with possibilities.  I am and will be forever grateful for this course!  
-Morgan Rath, BPD Student Fall 2020

Benjamin Kuhl, BPD leads to career in defense industry, Fall 2019

Ben Kuhl

The story of my mentorship started in Business 300 BPD when I was introduced to Executive in Residence (EIR) Bill "Coach" Bear. He was straight forward and talked of honest hard work being the key to success, that outworking your competition could give you the leg up on those with better GPA's or with more work experience. At the time I was working as a Retail Sales Associate, not a career job in any sense. I knew I wanted to grow but didn't know where to start or even where I wanted to get to, but I knew I wanted to work. I was able to approach Coach Bear and we quickly began to work together to improve my personal branding, resume, elevator pitch, everything down to how I see job opportunities, and how to apply my passions. We had days and nights of phonecalls about resume and cover letter editing which would often continue into the midnight hours all in the name of working towards the goal of being the best Coba Business Student and me I could be.

Over time, the mentorship began to pay dividends. I am no longer working in a retail job that wasn’t a career position. Through the encouragement of Coach Bear and many others at CSUSM, I was able to identify a potential internship opportunity at General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS). This internship was far beyond anything I had achieved or tried to achieve before. I worked through my internship to success and received an offer of employment which will carry on past my education at CSUSM. I am working in a professional environment where I can grow and set challenging goals and achieve them. My mentorship and education have put me in a position where I am the youngest person in a room by many years in an incredibly serious and result-driven environment, but can be regarded as an equal among peers due to the professional lessons passed onto me."

- Benjamin Kuhl, BPD Student 2019


Amanda Hillig, Goal Setting & Personal Branding, Fall 2018

Amanda Hillig

"As I started my first semester at CSUSM I wasn’t sure what to expect in the next stage of my education. It was imperative my major reflect my passions as well as lead to promising career opportunities. By taking advantage of available resources such as personal assessments, networking opportunities, and individual coaching I was able to narrow down my concentration to human resource management. The guidance from my executive in residence Mark James and my professional coach Frank Silva proved to be extremely helpful in my journey. Through perseverance and dedication, I have begun the development of my brand, established a network, and identified my greatest strengths. Considering what direction to go after graduation is essential. Assignments within the BPD class emphasize the importance of setting goals and help with planning to attain them. Though the BPD course load may seem strenuous and demanding, with commitment the opportunities for professional advancement are endless."

-Amanda Hillig, BPD Student 2018

Pablo Zapata, Career Planning, Fall 2018

Pablo Zapata

"During my first few weeks at San Marcos I was extremely lost, and I felt like I had no real sense of direction for what my career might look like after graduation. Coach Lauren Tanny taught me how to step out of my comfort zone and onto a path that opened up doors I never thought I’d be looking into.  The Business Professional Development course pushed me to express myself with a level of confidence I didn’t have coming into a new school and new environment. Each lesson brought me closer to understanding what it is I want to do with my career and how I can approach it. "

-Pablo Zapata, BPD Student 2018

Stephanie Hernandez, Internship Position, Spring 2018

Stephanie Hernandez

While working with her Executive in Residence, Lauren Tanny, Stephanie was able to secure a Risk Assurance internship with PwC, a Big Four accounting firm. During her internship, she will be working in the Internal Audit/ Process Assurance group. By completing the mock interview, she was able to prepare for additional interviews to participate in Summer Leadership Programs.

“I highly encourage everyone ask their Executive in Residence for advice when you need it. They are taking time to help you and they want you to be successful! I would always talk to my EIR whenever I was nervous about an upcoming interview. The EIR’s are very knowledgeable about different industries and they have vast experience. Even if they are uncertain, they have multiple connections that they can introduce you to. All the assignments and activities are useful for our professional and personal growth. Just remember to take advantage of the opportunities we are given, but also have fun!”

~Stephanie Hernandez, BPD Student 2018

Justin Buhagiar, Scholarship Award Recipient, Spring 2018 

 Justin Buhagiar
"The BPD Program is more than just refining soft skills. You get real life examples and situations that force you out of your comfort zone, those are the intangibles that help you succeed. The EIRs are experienced professionals that sincerely care about the success of the CSUSM students and their community. "

~Justin Buhagiar 

Erika Venegas, Student Org Leader, Spring 2018

Erika Venegas

"My advice to future BPD students is to take the time to build a personal connection with your EIR and peers. My EIR, Emilie Hersh, helped me network with many business professionals. Now, they are part of my many connections on LinkedIn. Emilie also motivated me to become the President of the Latino Business Student Association. As a board member, I get to explore many business industries, while meeting potential employers. Plus, being involved on campus allowed me to obtain two scholarships. Also, attend those outside networking events and don’t be afraid to start a conversation. It allows you to practice your 45-second elevator pitch and you can always ask your EIR or our CoBA Career Counselor, Karin Iwasaka, for help. Lastly, this course is meant to help you, and you will only be successful if you put in the work to better understand your passions. Even though the BPD program is over for me, I will continue to develop myself through CoBA’s Mentor Program. And, I would suggest you do the same!"

~Erika Venegas, BPD Student 2018

Jessica Gonzalez, Career Position, Spring 2018

Jessica Gonzalez

"BPD helped me to make my resume and interview skills stronger. This helped me get a new job with Advanced America as an Assistant Manager. My EIR, William Byun, taught me the importance of knowing your own value because once you know your value, you will know what you want as you make career choices. He also pointed out important things on a resume that will help you stand out. Advice that I have for students entering the program is to participate in class. First, it makes the class a lot more fun and helps you create new connection within the students in the program. Second,  it allows your EIR to get to know you personally, which will help your EIR to better to guide you one-on-one. Last, ask questions, the EIRs are well experienced in the business industry and could answer those questions. "

~Jessica Gonzalez, BPD Student 2018

Valeria Gaeta, Internship, Spring 2017

Working with her Executive in Residence, Jim Ferguson, Valeria was able to secure an internship with NGS, LLP, a business and tax consulting firm. During the internship she has been working with tax returns, trial balances, profit & loss statements, balance sheets, and bookkeeping. Valeria found the resume, cover letter, and mock interview assignments particularly helpful in preparing for the internship interview.

Valeria Gaeta

"My advice to those starting the BPD program is to be involved with it. What you put in to the program is really what you will get out of it. Take advantage of the resources and information they provide. The assignments are there to benefit you - complete them in a timely manner! Communicate with your EIR - they are there for a reason. After all, the program is all about you."

~Valeria Gaeta, BPD Student 2016-17

Lovina Yako, Assistant Position, Spring 2018

While working with her Executive in Residence, Doyle Young, Lovina developed her career search skills and built her confidence for applying for jobs in the accounting industry. With his guidance, she was able to secure a job as a Administrative Accounting Assistant at Global Cres, Inc. The BPD assignments she found to be the most helpful were the elevator pitch, mock interview, and business etiquette dinner.  She believes the EIR program allowed her to learn from someone who has real business world experience, and it helped to develop her understanding of what it takes to be successful.

Lovina Yako

"My advice for students entering the BPD program is to do all the assignments, ask as many questions as possible, and to be present during the lectures. This program will prepare you for interviews, internships, and future jobs. You will learn valuable lessons that you otherwise would have to teach yourself somehow along the way. Knowing what to do and how to act professionally will get you a step ahead of the game and will really impress your future employers!"

~Lovina Yako, BPD Student 2017-18