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BPD Success Stories

Below are real stories of student success resulting from participation in the Business Professional Development program. 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.

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