Alumni to share insights at Faith & Enterprise event

Riverside, Calif. (Feb. 28, 2024) – The Dr. Robert K. Jabs School of Business at California Baptist University will host a Faith & Enterprise event on Feb. 29. The evening will feature four alumni who will share insights from their early careers and the transition from students to young professionals.

The panel will feature Chardythe Gipson (’18, ’20), Chante' Graham (’21, ’22) Rebecca Hawkins (’21) and Michael Riad (’18, ’21).

Gipson is an engineer and consultant at SeaSpine, a medical technology company. Graham works at Ernst & Young as an auditor. Hawkins is a digital strategist for TrueSense Marketing, a marketing agency focused on fundraising. Riad works as an account executive for the technology sector at Esri.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

What was the transition like from student to young professional?

Riad: The transition from student to young professional was a mind shift. You go from learning to doing. Expectations and deadlines not met have real implications on promotions and pay. An important part of entering the workforce is being confident in your ethics and values. You are no longer in the university bubble. You will be confronted with individuals with opposing values, and you need to be steadfast in who you are.

Hawkins: I was fortunate to have advisors and professors encouraged me to find internships while I was in school. As a result, I found I had a smoother transition to the professional world than other young professionals.

Gipson: It was a blessing for me that CBU required us to have an internship prior to graduation from the College of Engineering. With that requirement, you were able to not only apply the skills that you learned, you were also able to be a sponge and soak up all the corporate knowledge to help you blossom.

Graham: After undergrad, I completed an internship with my company and then, after completing my master’s, went straight into working full time. Adapting to the working world was an adjustment, but I am highly adaptable.

What advice do you have for college students?

Gipson: Remain steadfast, it is not always about the opportunity that has the most money. It is the opportunity that will support your endeavors and purpose in the world. What will provide joy and happiness? Always be prepared to have difficult conversations, welcome hard things to challenge you, be a problem-solver. Lean on your professors, they have all the resources and they’ve done this before.

Riad: Internships are a great opportunity for you to confirm your passion and see if a particular organization is the right fit for you. Use the resources on campus, such as the Career Center and your professors. They are there to support you and prepare you. You get what you put in. Self-reflect and find your values and non-negotiables.

Graham: I would advise college students to go for what they want. Don’t settle, especially in your career, because that’s your livelihood. It’s what you will do day in and day out, so you should love it.

Hawkins: Don’t underestimate the value of certifications. In marketing, it’s important to understand marketing theory but industry certifications can help you learn how to apply theoretical teachings into real-life application. Couple certifications with an internship and you have so much more experience than most new graduates entering the marketing space.

How did CBU help prepare you for your career?

Gipson: CBU taught me the importance of integrity, intelligence and continuing to live your purpose, even in a corporate environment. Resources such as mock interviews, resume workshops, volunteer opportunities, they all lead you to people that may just have an opportunity for you or can connect you to someone who does.

Riad: CBU helped me get connected with an internship at PepsiCo before getting hired on full time. The Career Center was a huge asset in getting my resume prepared and nailing my interview through mock interviews. From an academic standpoint the most valuable lesson was learning to reflect on the WHY before making a decision and having the evidence to support it. 

Hawkins: If it wasn’t for my smaller class sizes and the ability to develop relationships with my professors, I would not have been able to find internships and develop my work experience while I was a student. My professors understood that I was a working student and worked closely with me so that I could gain industry experience and complete my assignments on time. The level of care and attention you get at CBU prepares you more than you expect.

Graham: CBU helped prepare me for my job by teaching me the fundamentals of accounting and helping prepare me for the CPA exam. I also learned many ethical standards that I still carry today when completing my work on a day-to-day basis.

Faith & Enterprise

When: Feb. 29, 5:30-7 p.m.

Where: Innovators Auditorium, Hae and Shina Park Building, California Baptist University, 8432 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA, 92504

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504