Communications Studies alumni offer career insights at annual speaker's panelby Jan Janes on Apr 14, 2017
Students exploring potential career paths listened to five Gavilan College Communication Studies alumni working in a variety of fields. The fourth annual event was jointly sponsored by the Communication Studies Department chaired by Denise Besson and the COMM CLUB advised by Kelly Glass.
Denise Besson, chair of the the Communications Studies department,
welcomed the alumni guests and the students exploring career options.
About the panelists:
Program Coordinator, YMCA Mt. Madonna
Graduated Gavilan 2012, Arizona State University 2014
You can learn a lot, Temores discovered, going out to lunch with an old friend. They graduated at the same time, and she asked about job prospects. Two years after graduation the friend was...waiting. By contrast, Temores landed a job in radio four months after graduation and spent three years at a number of stations producing creative work. Currently she works at YMCA Mt. Madonna where she uses her communications skills to make a difference in people's lives.
Principal, South Valley Middle School
Graduated Gavilan 2007, SJSU MA Ed 2007
Talking about her career path, Mondragón nonchalantly dropped a shocker: as a youth she dropped out of high school and worked in the ticket booth of a movie theater. Raised in a family of migrant workers, she spent her childhood constantly moving from Castroville to Salinas to Watsonville. The family finally settled down after moving to Gilroy. Anchored, Mondragón could pursue her education.
Relationship Advisor & Private Banker, Silicon Valley Bank
Graduated Gavilan 2009, SJSU 2012
After Prado graduated from Gavilan, CSU schools created a nine month waiting period before a new class could enter. Bad timing? It seemed artificial but was a real, inconvenient frustration. Not one to sit around and wait, Prado distributed her resume and applied for work everywhere. She got a call back from Bank of America, interviewed and received a job offer. The communications career path she envisioned as an employee of a major technology company in Silicon Valley shifted. Instead, she now advises those companies as a private banker.
Insurance agent Golden Memorial Advantage Life, marketer Costco
Graduated Gavilan 2008, SJSU 2010
Zendejas shared his personal perspective. Being male from a family of farm workers, the emphasis was decidedly not on communication. At a crossroads, he flipped a coin to decide his next direction. Heads: take the communications class. Tails: continue hanging with his friends. Heads it was. He enrolled, then pushed himself to take all the courses. Zendejas received his degree from Gavilan and transferred to SJSU to continue studying communication studies. Repurposing the familiar phrase "gateway drugs," he described communications studies as gateway courses to succeed with career pursuits.
Nahal Dadrass Hayes
Accountant, Monterey Mushrooms
Graduated Gavilan 2002, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 2005
Born in Iran as politics became volatile, Dadrass Hayes was three years old when her parents immigrated to the US. English is her second language. She recalled feeling very uncomfortable speaking in front of people and identified it as an obstacle. She earned her Communications Studies certificate and transferred to study business and accounting at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a school emphasizing presentations and project work. She credited Gavilan's communications program as pivotal to her success at SLO.
Panelists Eryka Temores, Patricia Mondragón, Jessica Prado, Sergio Zendejas and
Nahal Dadrass Hayes field questions from Gavilan students.
Panelists shared about their educational pursuits before answering questions from the audience:
How would you compare the communications courses at Gavilan to the communications courses at SJSU?
Mondragón: I enjoyed communications more at Gavilan, where there is an emphasis on the individual person. The classes at SJSU focused on career preparation and included an emphasis on teaching.
Zendejas: Some of the prerequisite classes weren't that interesting, but the classes in the major were similar to course work at Gavilan. I did notice the preponderance of women in the program.
Besson: Yes, the communications industry and career paths seem to have a lot of women. An outreach to more men would benefit the industry. SJSU offers a solid foundation for teaching communications.
After graduating with your communications degree, what were your career steps?
Temores: Find ways to focus, narrow down what you want. Make those discoveries by taking internships and temporary positions. Dig your hands into your own career direction.
Prado: While working during the interim waiting period before starting SJSU, Prado discovered she really enjoyed banking and people. When her spot at SJSU finally opened up, she learned her employer would pay her tuition. She ended up without any college debt and a new career path to apply her communications degree.
Dadrass Hayes: Looking at her own career arc, she told the students to find their passion and recommended job shadowing to discover opportunities, which is how she discovered accounting as her career path.
Besson: Networking is important to career opportunities. Typically, connections are made at four-year schools.
How are communications reinforced at the middle school level?
Mondragón: Middle school students have a reputation as difficult to teach. But actually they are eager to please, they are searching for their own identities, and they need guidance and tools. Communications are emphasized across the curriculum as a Common Core skill.
What communication skill that you learned at Gavilan do you find yourself drawing on every day in your career?
Temores: Active listening, really listening without responding. I use it every day and listen to the messages behind the words as well.
Mondragón: Agreed, active listening. Be present, encourage people to emphasize what they like, advocate, speak up, be patient and be clear.
Prado: Yes, active listening. Using it, I can determine what clients really need. I conduct many meetings without any equipment, so I am focused on what they are saying, not distracted by devices. I can also be attuned to nonverbal cues by watching and listening.
Zendejas: Nonverbal communication. Learn it, read it, use it. I also draw on the culture courses we were taught, understanding and not judging when people's behaviors are different.
Dadrass Hayes: Perceptions. I recall a video clip about perceptions and body language, and how people's perceptions differ. Based on that, I try to see myself through the eyes of others. It helps me adjust, watch and listen intently.
What majors and minors complement communications studies?
Temores: Communications go hand in hand with every degree. I now want to apply those skills to pursue a study of sociology.
Prado: Every student should take at least one communications course. It will help any area they study.
Glass: What are you passionate about? Find that, choose your focus, and discover how communication studies works with it.
Alumni Patricia Mondragón and Jessica Prado talk with communications studies
students after the panel presentation.
The five panelists affirmed the value of communications to their careers. Employers are not necessarily looking for the smartest person to hire. They are looking for team players who can engage, solve problems and communicate.
For more information about Communications Studies degrees and certificates at Gavilan, visit https://www.gavilan.edu/comm