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Student Affairs

Set Up for Success: How a New Student Grant Can Help Launch Careers

Stedents speak to industry reps on campus

A critical component of the Cal Poly student experience is the work done outside of the classroom. Learn by Doing opportunities, which support personal growth, encourage lifelong connections and empower all students, is core to the mission of Student Affairs.

Much of the impactful out-of-classroom work is focused on students finding their professional purpose. After graduation, 96% of Cal Poly students secure employment in careers related to their major. Launching into their successful careers and being poised and ready to thrive in a global workforce is an essential outcome for all graduates.

Throughout their Cal Poly journey, students utilize the many resources and programs available to assist their career readiness. One avenue that students take to ensure they have a clear advantage in seeking employment is to show well-rounded and thorough exposure to their field of study. To gain this experience, students often travel to conferences, seminars, research symposiums and certification courses offered by industry. Students often land their first jobs after graduation because they earned these certifications, participated in professional conferences and gained invaluable skills and knowledge at industry seminars.

Students at a career fair

However, as essential as this professional development may be, not all students can afford the cost to attend. Travel and conference registration fees can be expensive, and often the cost for students to participate is not covered by the university. Therefore, many students who struggle financially are not able to participate in these opportunities. In turn, these students are less desirable as candidates for career positions with companies who require or prefer applicants with these experiences on their resume.

“Student-faculty travel is really important because it gives students the opportunity to meet other scientists and get feedback on their work from people outside of Cal Poly,” says Ashley McDonald, a chemistry professor. As the Chemistry Department’s coordinator for the Frost Summer Research Program, she sees firsthand the learning process of student participants and has discovered that traveling to events can be very inspiring for students. “When I was an undergrad, my advisor took me to a lot of conferences, and I actually met my graduate advisor when I was giving a poster at the Southeast Regional meeting of the American Chemical Society. I want to give our students opportunities like that too.”

Students meeting industry reps at a career fair

Given this growing need, Student Affairs and the Parent Advisory Council have established the Cal Poly Student Professional Development Fund. This fund aims to support students who demonstrate financial need in attending and participating in a variety of opportunities that could aid their career exploration. This is the first fund of its kind and will begin offering support for students to participate in professional development conferences, scholarly seminars or symposiums, research initiatives with faculty and many other extracurricular programs and opportunities related to the students’ academic discipline.

Students who are interested can apply for the Cal Poly Student Professional Development Grant using the online application. Applicants are eligible for up to $2,500 in scholarship support for professional development. The selection committee will review applications within five to 10 business days and will correspond directly with the student applicants within that timeframe.

The impact of this fund will surely be profound for these young lives, eager to launch their careers. Each donation of $2,500 will send a student with financial need on a once-in-a-lifetime experience to build their resume and set them up for success.

Donate today to the Cal Poly Student Professional Development Fund and support our students who are working hard to reach for the stars; your gift will help them get there!