A Q&A with Chelsea Kidwell

Advisor Chelsea Kidwell with a studentCareer Readiness Advisor Chelsea Kidwell joined the Orfalea College of Business in the summer of 2015 as part of the college’s major initiatives to bolster career resources specific to business students. Over the past few months, she’s partnered with Orfalea Student Services, Cal Poly’s Career Services and major recruiters who hire Orfalea students to support students facing a demanding hiring process. Listen to her unique perspective on students today and how the college is evolving to help each student feel truly career ready.

Q: Since you joined the college this summer, what have you noticed about Orfalea College of Business students?
A: Orfalea students are quick learners, hardworking and driven. Recruiters are always impressed by their “can do” attitudes and their ability to dive in and do the job. Our students are truly open to learning and want to make a positive impact on the company they are working for. I think that’s what makes recruiters so excited to hire from our college.

Q: Dean Scott Dawson has made career readiness a major priority in the college. What does career readiness mean to you?
A: I define career readiness as acquiring applicable skills and experiences during college that will propel you into your career, and honing the ability to effectively communicate the value those experiences in both written and verbal formats. That could include leadership roles, internships and work experience. Recruiters always tell me that if a student can clearly articulate their skills and experience — if they can actually talk to someone — they are more likely to get hired. Once a student has that down, they will be ready to embark on their career.

Q: What new resources is Orfalea offering students to prepare them for the transition?
A: In fall 2015, we launched a new, interactive course called BUS 206: Business Professionalism and Career Readiness I, which focuses on topics such as resume building, interviewing, networking skills and career exploration. It provides a space for students to practice skills needed in the hiring process and gather feedback. In 2016, we will be introducing BUS 306: Business Professionalism and Career Readiness II, which will dive even further into career advancement and industry exploration. These classes were designed to help students secure internship opportunities and confidently transition into their careers.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to a student preparing for the workforce?
A: Use this time at Cal Poly to intentionally build out your resume. Gain experience in areas where you might be less confident by joining a club, sitting on a committee, taking on multiple internships, and making a positive impact in your community. You want to show an employer that you are well-rounded and can balance your school work with extracurricular activities. Put yourself out there — use every resource and networking opportunity on and off campus to communicate your goals and develop connections that could help you meet your career goals.

Q: What big challenges are students facing in the hiring process today?
A: Today’s hiring process is extremely competitive, and recruiting at Cal Poly is no different. As such, it’s no longer enough to be exceptionally bright and driven. Students have to figure out what their unique strengths are in order to sell themselves in interviews and at networking events. This might not be the most intuitive thing for students, but I think it’s one of the key components that leads to a student’s ultimate success in a highly competitive market.

Q: How is the Orfalea College of Business adapting for the hiring process underclassmen will face in years to come?
A: We have quite a few things in the works. Some of our bigger projects include creating more opportunities for employers to get face time with students directly through the college. We feel that this is beneficial to our employers as well as to our students. We are also beginning to bolster our career and internship web resources to better serve students, employers and alumni. The goal is to add additional layers of programming and support so that all students have intentional training in this area. We want career readiness to be an essential part of their college experience from day one at Cal Poly so that they are ultimately successful in their careers.

To contact Chelsea regarding recruiting at Cal Poly or supporting students’ career readiness, email clkidwel@calpoly.edu.

Alumni Contributions Fuel Career Readiness

Cal Poly finance students tour investment banks in Los AngelesMore than 400 Orfalea College of Business alumni and industry partners gave back to the college in 2015. Those contributions to the Dean’s Excellence Fund, large and small, add up to big impact on campus. So what did your donations support in 2015?

Industry tours for students.

In the fall of 2015, Orfalea College of Business clubs traveled to industry hubs to network with successful alumni and tour the offices of leading companies. The Dean’s Excellence Fund supported Cal Poly’s Financial Management Association (FMA) during its tour of financial firms in Los Angeles on Nov. 12 and 13. Sixteen top students toured One Capital, PIMCO, HFF and Capital Group where they explored the roles of finance professionals and talked about industry trends with each company’s leaders. The cohort was met by alumni at each firm who shared their insights into the industry.

The college supports these kinds of opportunities to enhance each student’s career readiness and knowledge of this fast-paced industry. The experience was timed to give students critical perspective on emerging roles in finance as recruiters arrived on campus for fall interviews. This fall, the Orfalea College of Business hosted its own Futures in Finance career fair, connecting top students with finance-focused opportunities in technology, consulting and retail products. This is the first finance-specific career fair the college has hosted.

Many contributions to the Dean’s Excellence Fund were doubled through employer matching gift programs. To find out if your company matches gifts to Cal Poly visit the university’s matching gift website and talk to your employer’s corporate giving staff.

For more information about supporting the Orfalea College of Business and the students who Learn by Doing today, visit http://bit.ly/GiveOCOB.


Industrial Technology Professor Explores the Gamification of Curriculum

In the spirit of Learn by Doing, industrial technology professor Ahmed Deif is conducting research on how the “gamification” of curriculum — incorporating interactive games into the learning process — affects students’ understanding and application of lean manufacturing concepts.

Dief says his interest in the research stemmed from industry trends towards gamification in lean consulting for professionals. He says that classrooms have fallen behind by sticking to traditional lecturing methods to explain core concepts.

“The classical way of using slides and presentations Cal Poly master's students work through a gamification experimentexplaining the concepts isn’t used anymore, even in industry,” Deif said. “When it comes to universities, that [approach] should be the same.”

In his research, which spans across graduate and undergraduate classes, Deif matches lean six sigma concepts to physical games. After a brief lecture, students work in teams to complete the game and then share their thoughts on a number on factors such as attention span, the game’s relevance, confidence in applying the concept, and perceived cognitive effort. Deif says he sees students apprehending detailed concepts during the games, even without an explanation in the lecture.

He first presented his lean gamification research proposal at the Institute of Industrial Engineers Lean Six Sigma Conference in Sept. 2015. After receiving support from an Orfalea College of Business career readiness research grant as well as funding from the Industrial Technology and Packaging area, he was able to implement the games in the 2015 fall quarter. Deif will be using the games throughout the remainder of the year, and hopes to have an accurate sample of student assessments to determine which games are the most effective.

Eventually, Deif hopes that the success found in gamification could be applied to other disciplines to improve student learning.

“I’m trying to jump into a new world with this idea. There are a lot of concepts out there without games or exercises to explain them. I want to understand from the already established games… and, in the next phase of the research, design new games.”

Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Continues Growth Spurt

Students working in the SLO HotHouseCal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) continues its streak of growth and startup success through a wide variety of programs and activities to stimulate the Learn by Doing spirit and assist entrepreneurs in following their dreams.

Under the leadership of executive director Tod Nelson, the Amazon leader who was appointed to lead the CIE in the spring of 2015, the center has expanded its SLO HotHouse to a 15,000 square-foot space on Higuera Street above Ross Dress for Less. The expansion provided new workspace for the 13 startups in the Summer Accelerator program and 12 businesses in the 24-month Incubator program. Looking ahead, the larger space could allow for each program to roughly double in size, as well as allowing space for other CIE programs like Coworking and the Small Business Development Center for Innovation.

With the new square footage, the CIE has also been able to expand its Incubator program to include members of the local community for the first time. Applications from local startups for the program closed at the end of November, and two companies will start working in the space this year.

Nash Family Entrepreneurship LabOn campus, the CIE has new resources at hand. Students now have access to the Nash Entrepreneurship Lab and the Hatchery, newly renovated spaces where early-stage startups can refine their concepts and business plans as they prepare for launch. Students have access to interactive workshops, insights from an entrepreneur in residence, a mentor network, and dedicated office space 24/7. Curious inventors can also work with prototyping software and tools in the Innovation Sandbox, a space that encourages exploration within all disciplines.

Among faculty, the innovative spirit has continued to take hold. The CIE’s Faculty Fellows program has grown to include 12 faculty members representing every college at Cal Poly. These educators incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship within coursework, serve as CIE ambassadors within their discipline, and help guide motivated students through the different entrepreneurial career paths.

Cal Poly continues to look ahead to find the right space on campus and in the community where students and young ventures can continue to grow. The university recently leased an additional 6,000 square feet of commercial space and 32 apartments for students in downtown San Luis Obispo.

With these programs in place and expanding, the CIE continues to see increased demand for its resources. A record numbers of students are engaging in pitch competitions, hackathons, and startup-centered career fairs.

For more information on the CIE and how to support its programs, visit www.cie.calpoly.edu.

Cal Poly, the Orfalea College of Business Ranked Highly by U.S. News and World Report

Ranked by US News
Cal Poly and the Orfalea College of Business received high marks from U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of top universities. Cal Poly has kept its streak alive for 23 years as the best public-master’s university in the West. The Orfalea College of Business was also ranked among nation’s top undergraduate business schools. This is the first time the college has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

In the rankings released in August 2015, the university also tied for 10th in the magazine’s overall list of the West’s best universities, which includes 116 public and private institutions in 15 states.

“We are humbled by the recognition of this prestigious ranking,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “It is always gratifying to see Cal Poly honored for our singular Learn by Doing approach to education.”

Cal Poly picked up a number of other college-level and university-wide accolades. The university’s engineering program, was again ranked seventh-best master’s and bachelor’s program in the nation, and the civil engineering and mechanical engineering programs were ranked third in the nation.

Cal Poly was also ranked 10th best veteran-friendly university among Western universities — a listing that shows military vets and active-duty service members which top-ranked schools offer benefits that can help them make pursuing a college education more affordable.

The U.S. News rankings are available at www.usnews.com/colleges.