Students Experience a Resourceful Lunch with Torero Alumni

Students interact with USD 2011 alumna Allison Spalding, far left, during the USD Student Alumni Association's annual Take a Torero to Lunch event on April 4.Students interact with USD 2011 alumna Allison Spalding, far left, during the USD Student Alumni Association's annual Take a Torero to Lunch event on April 4.

One of the best resources that every current University of San Diego student has tremendous access to is the opportunity to reach out to some of the more than 65,000 Torero alumni worldwide.

Whether it’s getting advice about making the most of their USD student experience, deciding on a major, finding an internship, choosing a career path or to simply gain experience in networking, it’s a great benefit.

On Tuesday, April 4, that’s exactly what some students were doing in a conference room within the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice as the USD Student Alumni Association hosted its annual Take a Torero to Lunch event.

Each table featured at least a few alumni this time from the School of Business, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Leadership and Education Sciences, Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science and the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering.

Two of the most popular alumni on hand were also the event’s keynote speakers, Beau Schmitt ‘08 and Michael Sill ’09. Together, these Toreros are in the hospitality industry with their business, The Brew Project. Founded in 2012 to create more exposure for San Diego’s independently owned and operated breweries, the Brew Project has now evolved into a neighborhood beerhouse in Hillcrest, Schmitt said.

Schmitt and Sill are different in terms of what they each bring to their business, but their degrees — Schmitt’s is a business degree in finance and accounting while Sill’s was in international relations — and their respective strengths have merged to create a business venture that’s received mentions in The New York Times and USA Today.

Both praised the fact that they’ve received support and advice from fellow Torero alumni who are in the craft beer industry or business community and they even spent some time after their keynote speech to talk about technology with another alumnus on hand, Even Donaldson ’90, who owns an information technology company, Talentry, LLC.

Other alumni who were surrounded by inquiring students were from such industries as shipping intelligence (Chad Beville ’05), financial planning (Deana Carter ’88), law (Sean Gaffney ’97), higher education and career counseling (Sue Kelly ’89), leadership development (Annie McIlvaine ’07), healthcare and pediatric nursing (Jenna McKnight ’08 BA, ’16 MEPN), real estate (Seth O’Byrne ’05), building industry (Gerry Rodrigues ’97), e-commerce and digital marketing (Allison Spalding ’11), social services (Deanna Villanueva ’07) and utilities (Joshua Williams BS/BA, ’16).

One business student, Calder Epes, who has spent six years active duty in the Navy and the last four in the Navy Reserves, appreciated the chance to have upclose access with alumni. He sat at a table with Gerry Rodrigues and Chad Beville asking them about what they do in their respective businesses. Epes said events such as this one are a great benefit to him in terms of networking, learning more about what opportunities are out there and to see and hear how Torero alumni have transferred their education to the business world.

Deana Carter, who has owned her own business, Carter Financial, for 25 years, said she appreciates opportunities to return to her alma mater, give back, see what other alumni from USD are doing and, of course, connect with current students.

“It’s the vivaciousness,” Carter said. “I like to see and meet the kids who are so excited about what they’re learning at USD and what they want to do when they’re ready to go out into the world.”

Sue Kelly, a career counselor in USD’s Career Development Center for the past 20 years, offered some sound advice: “Do as much as you can to connect with people working in the fields that interest you. Learn about occupations through information interviews, volunteer work, internships, or part-time jobs. If you don’t get your ideal job right after graduation, realize that any work experience is valuable and can serve as a building block to further your career path.”

Those who attended Tuesday’s Take a Torero to Lunch took advantage of a great opportunity. They were in the right place, working on their networking skill set while meeting Torero alumni. In many ways, they followed the wise advice that Joshua Williams, a 2016 dual degree mechanical engineering graduate and current associate engineer for San Diego Gas and Electric, provided.

“You never know where a handshake will lead … so don’t be afraid to seize the opportunity, and put yourself out there. Soft skills and being personable go a long way.” 

— Ryan T. Blystone

 

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