Internships, immersive projects, and getting the most from my Cal Poly education, inside and outside the classroom.
By Sami Katwan
When I first toured Cal Poly in the Spring of 2018, I knew it was the right university for me. This was not only because of the beautiful campus or the incredible value for business students, but also because of the Orfalea College of Business (OCOB) Student Ambassadors, whose passion and on-campus involvement were a testament to the unique opportunities and skills afforded to Cal Poly students. They were always smiling and shared stories with my tour group about their exciting experiences on and off campus. Their enthusiasm as they spoke about their hands-on experiences in the classroom, with internships, and in on-campus organizations solidified Cal Poly as my top choice.
Now as a junior, I can safely say that my high expectations for Cal Poly were exceeded. My Business Administration, Information Systems, and Sales courses so far have culminated in what I believe to be an extraordinarily valuable education. From learning practical theories to serving real-life clients to engaging directly with guest speakers to working in my desired career area, Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” mantra is not just for show—it’s a core philosophy that guides how professors structure their course material to be as valuable and engaging as possible.
For me, one highlight of Learn by Doing came during a recent group project in System Analysis and Design (BUS 394). Three peers and I worked together to find and solve a problem for a real local business, Taqueria la Parilla. Through several in-depth interviews with the business’s management, we discovered the opportunity to increase revenue and profit while saving time for their busy staff. Using the concepts we learned in class, we analyzed and designed a solution that would allow customers to place online orders through a website. We presented it as an option to the business owner, who continues to explore online ordering solutions. Designing this system was an intensive process. However, as someone interested in sales, consulting, and problem-solving in general, I found this experience to be invaluable.
My Business Administration, Information Systems, and Sales courses so far have culminated in what I believe to be an extraordinarily valuable education. From learning practical theories to serving real-life clients to engaging directly with guest speakers to working in my desired career area, Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” mantra is not just for show—it’s a core philosophy that guides how professors structure their course material to be as valuable and engaging as possible.
The benefits of being a Cal Poly student are not limited to the fantastic on-campus opportunities or in-class projects, however. We also have access to Handshake, which gives us the opportunity to connect with companies specifically seeking out Cal Poly students. I cannot recommend this platform enough. It’s what connected me to my most valuable off-campus career development pursuit yet—my internship as a Sales Development Representative for HiView Solutions, a SLO-based B2B technical consulting firm focused around Google Cloud products.
I have been working with HiView since September 2019 and all the while have been able to apply what I learn in the classroom to my work in this position, including prospecting, qualifying leads, and working with HiView’s partners at Google to initiate outbounding campaigns. For example, in Technology-Based Professional Selling (BUS 348) I learned how to effectively use Salesforce, Salesloft, LinkedIn, and other key tools for sales. Another especially valuable course was Professional Selling Skills (BUS 347), in which we frequently simulated sales calls that helped me develop key skills such as discovery, needs identification, and objection handling.
In addition to my day-to-day SDR tasks, I have recorded instructional videos for HiView’s YouTube channel, helped its Marketing team create email campaigns, assisted with project delivery, and more. I highly recommend interning for small companies like HiView because it enables you to gain valuable experiences in many areas of the business, while making a measurable difference for the company as a whole.
To get even more out of your Cal Poly education, I strongly recommend pursuing some of the unique extracurricular opportunities that we have as Cal Poly students. For me, this has included joining the Cal Poly National Collegiate Sales Competition (NCSC) team, serving as President of our university’s Zeta Beta Tau fraternity chapter, strategizing on the Student Library Advisory Council (SLAC), and most recently, becoming a Student Ambassador for the Orfalea College of Business—just like those students who inspired me several years ago. Whatever your personal or professional interests, I guarantee that there are organizations on campus that will resonate with you, making your Cal Poly experience that much more fulfilling both personally and professionally.Altogether, my experiences so far at Cal Poly have helped me better understand my career goals.
I am hoping for a great final academic year for my peers in the Class of 2022 in the wake of the current unusual circumstances. I’m so thankful for my family, friends, professors, and coworkers for their invaluable support and adaptability throughout the past few years. I am also so grateful to be gaining a hands-on education that will prepare me to create a positive impact as a proud Cal Poly alumnus.
Sami Katwan is a 3rd-year Business Administration student concentrating in Information Systems with a minor in Sales. He is from Mountain View, CA and enjoys watching sports and spending time outdoors. After graduating in June of 2022, he plans to pursue a career in Technology Sales/Consulting.