Mehrdad and Mariam Komeili at a trade show floor presenting their business concept, My Office Apps.

Mehrdad and Mariam Komeili present My Office Apps at a trade show.

Computer engineers Mehrdad and Mariam Komeili recognized a void in configurable software solutions for business processes, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses. They saw the need for a software that would handle sales, procurement, inventory management, manufacturing, warehouse management and finance, for boutique accounting firms and small manufacturers.

In 2014, with decades of experience in the technology and business sectors, the married couple launched Santa Ana-based My Office Apps, a fully integrated solution designed to help smaller enterprises operate their businesses efficiently. In the past year, the Komeilis have turned to the CSUF Startup Incubator, part of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton, which provides business development and connections for entrepreneurs, to help grow and innovate their companies.

They discuss My Office Apps and how Cal State Fullerton’s startup experts are helping them transform their business. Read More

Photo showing dollar bills and a rising trend line

Photo from Pixabay

With a diverse local economy, a highly educated workforce and affluent demographics in many areas, Southern California’s Orange County typically avoids the worst of unemployment during recessions.

But the coronavirus crisis has sent the jobless rate in the coastal county to 13.8% in April 2020, and the rate is likely to be even higher when May’s data is calculated.

The total number of jobs in the county – about 1.41 million employees – is similar to levels seen in 2012, as the recovery from the Great Recession was just beginning.

In March and April alone, 77% of the number of jobs gained since the Great Recession were lost, a victim of the stay-at-home orders accompanying COVID-19.

During the last recession, unemployment reached double-digit levels, but just barely, peaking at 10.1%.

Divining the Labor Market

Anil Puri, director of the Woods Center for Economic Analysis and Forecasting at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, anticipates some improvement in the situation as many of the job losses are temporary furloughs that may be reversed as business operations come online.

But a return to the strong job market at the beginning of 2020 is not likely in the foreseeable future, according to his commentary in the Orange County Register this week, in a piece written by renowned business columnist Jonathan Lansner.  

“I expect next month’s number [released in June but covering May’s number] to be as bad, if not worse, than this. But the June rate would be better given the efforts underway to open the economy,” says Puri of April’s dismal numbers. “We have predicted a W-shaped recovery and it very much looks that way.”

According to the Spring Economic Forecast issued earlier this month, Puri and his fellow economist and Woods Center Co-Director Mira Farka expect Orange County joblessness to average 11.1% in the second quarter of 2020, with somewhat better conditions thereafter.

But uncertainty reigns, with coronavirus and a number of other factors complicating the picture.

“There will be a second wave of higher infections this fall and there will be a spate of bankruptcies. We expect household spending to jump in the third quarter relative to the last three months, but then the trend over the next year is going to be moderate and it will move in fits and starts depending on spread of the disease, election results and geopolitical developments,” says Puri.

Orange County Job Market Losers

Which sectors of the Orange County economy have performed the worst during this crisis?

Restaurants have lost 46% of employment – a loss of 68,700 jobs, in only two months, the worst performing sector. Coming in second-worst were hotels, losing 41% of payroll, or 10,700 jobs. And third-worst is arts, entertainment and recreation, declining 39%, or 20,600 positions.

The National Picture

So where does Orange County stand in unemployment compared with the rest of the United States?

On May 22, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released jobless rates for each of the 50 states, covering the April 2020 period.

Lowest joblessness is in Connecticut, where a highly-educated populace has an unemployment rate of but 7.9%. Worst is tourism- and entertainment-heavy Nevada, where a rate of 28.2% exceeds even the worst national numbers in the Great Depression. Second worst is manufacturing-focused Michigan, at 22.7%, followed by tourism-focused Hawaii, at 22.3%, rounding out the only three states with jobless rates in excess of 20%.

Statewide, California’s jobless rate is at 15.5%, above the national level of 14.7%. The state is 10th worst in the nation.

David Nanigian, director of the Personal Financial Planning Program at Cal State Fullerton's Mihaylo College of Business and Economics

David Nanigian

David Nanigian, director of Cal State Fullerton’s Professional Certificate in Personal Financial Planning Program and an associate professor of finance at Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, recently presented a paper, “Rating a Robo-Rater,” at CFP Board’s Academic Research Colloquium. The paper looks at whether or not a machine-learning model designed to emulate the decision-making processes of human analysts can do as good a job as humans when picking actively managed mutual funds for investment.

The study is specific to products provided by financial services company Morningstar Inc., which in 2017 launched its “robo-rater,” because it is not feasible for Morningstar to assign a human analyst rating to every mutual fund in existence.

“This provides a laboratory to gauge the value of ‘soft information’ in analyzing mutual funds,” says Nanigian in a recent article about his study published on Machine Lawyering, a blog of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Read More

Art piece created by graduating senior Haley Hunt memorializing her president scholar peersAmong the thousands of graduating Titans from the class of 2020 are 19 President’s Scholars – the most prestigious scholarship program at Cal State Fullerton, with academic, leadership, service and mentorship opportunities.

Among these President’s Scholars graduates are two Mihaylo College alumnae: Haley Hunt ’20 (marketing and information systems) and Caroline Vu ’20 (finance – real estate). Matt Pilker ’20, a geology and political science student who served as a student assistant at Mihaylo College’s Dean’s Suite for three years, is also a part of the graduating President’s Scholars cohort.

Haley Hunt, a Business Honors student at Cal State Fullerton's Mihaylo College, poses on the patio of Steven G. Mihaylo Hall

Haley Hunt

Hunt recently shared her Titan experience with CSUF News.

President’s Scholars and CSUF Open Doors of Opportunity and Possibility

As a high school student playing basketball and involved in student government at Whittier Christian High School in the early 2010s, Hunt held on to her collegiate goals, though family financial challenges made a higher education seem like an impossible dream.

Arriving at Cal State Fullerton in 2016, Hunt was accepted into the President’s Scholars Program, receiving a four-year financial scholarship, along with opportunities for personal and professional development and community impact.

Read More

two students walking on Titan Walk

Spring 2020 has been different for all of us in the way we learn and communicate with one another. We now utilize emails more than ever to ask our professors questions about assignments and the curriculum. It is important to know how to reach out to them efficiently and effectively to voice your needs. Here are a few tips on how to communicate with professors:

Explain Your Situation

During this pandemic, we all struggle to adjust, and for some students, there are varying difficulties with living at home. Professors are here to support us even if they are doing it virtually, so telling them what may be inhibiting your learning is vital to your success. They will likely be understanding and express potential options to accommodate your situation. 

Know How to Email

Emails may seem simple and easy to send, but when communicating with faculty, it is important to have proper etiquette. Begin with an introductory statement and follow with your inquiry, then end with a polite closing. It is more formal than a traditional conversation, so making sure to get to the point right away and keeping it concise is very important. 

Letters of Recommendation

It’s still a good time to request references from your professors and other administrators for grad school, internships, jobs and scholarships. Make the request with plenty of time for them to work on it. You should also include a list of your accomplishments for them to reference. Respond immediately to any questions they have or information they need and, of course, thank them when you receive it. 

Time Zones

There are many students who may be out of state and have returned home to a different time zone. If you are one of those individuals, it is important to tell your professors so they may accommodate or figure out a solution, and you won’t have to wake up at awful hours in the morning. 

Check In

Our faculty are also going through a difficult time. Check in with your professors and see how they are doing, as it will go a long way to show how much we appreciate them.

Overall, this pandemic has switched up the way we communicate with each other and it’s an opportunity to grow, even with the difficulties it has brought. Reach out and get the information you need to be successful. 

ABC 7 Eyewitness News discusses career tips from Cal State Fullerton's Career CenterCal State Fullerton’s Career Center is ensuring that the class of 2020 stays career ready, and their advice has been of help not only to Fullerton business grads, but also young professionals globally, thanks to an appearance on ABC 7 on May 11, which was also featured on MSN’s news feed.

Like most institutions of higher education, Cal State Fullerton has gone virtual, and Elizabeth Zavala ’02 (human services), director of the university-wide career center, points to the remote assistance available to CSUF students, including events such as the upcoming May 22 virtual career fair, one of the opportunities available to students and grads.

“College students should definitely turn to their career services professionals to help them because we’re still operating remotely and employers still want to hire,” she says, noting that about 43 companies and organizations are scheduled to participate in the May 22 event. “[Hiring] might be a little slower than before, but we’re still seeing a need in various industries.”

Zavala is pleased to report that Cal State Fullerton and other universities have generally had success in transferring their career services programs into virtual formats – and even reaching more students and alumni in the process due to the greater accessibility of services.

“It’s different, but at the same time, we’re also reaching students that we may not have prior to COVID-19,” she says.

MSN screenshot on May 11, 2020, showing CSUF story

Global search engine and media giant MSN highlights Cal State Fullerton’s Career Center on May 11, 2020.

Launching Your Career in the COVID-19 Age

Some members of the class of 2020 are in a particularly challenging spot, having secured a post-graduation job in another part of the United States, but now grappling with the challenges of a move amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

“College students are negotiating their start dates and are working remotely first until they feel comfortable making the move across the country or starting the search for an apartment,” she says. “Organizations who are hiring are understanding of the situation. Safety is a priority for everyone, but the work still needs to get done. The reality is that most of this work can be accomplished remotely.”

Landing Internships

For seniors or others seeking a summer internship, coronavirus may have upended their plans, but Zavala holds out hope that remote internships and later start dates can rescue the opportunity in many cases.

In the meantime, she suggests students work on establishing a strong social media footprint, including LinkedIn, creating a strong résumé, and obtaining advanced Zoom interviewing skills – all skills that the Career Center stands ready to support students in.

For More Information

Watch the full interview or read the full article on ABC 7.

Find out more about the career resources available specifically to Cal State Fullerton’s business students through Mihaylo Career Services.

Cover of Ryan Gottfredson's bestselling book Success Mindsets

Success Mindsets: Your Keys to Unlocking Greater Success in Your Life, Work & Leadership, a new book by Cal State Fullerton Assistant Professor of Management Ryan Gottfredson, officially launched on May 5 and is already listed among the bestsellers in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal for the last full week of April 2020.

Available as an ebook and audiobook for the past three months before being released as a paperback, the 252-page work, published by Morgan James Publishing, provides a research-based look at how having the right mindsets can transform personal and professional life and leadership, and how these successes can be achieved.

“People are resonating with this book because they are coming to understand what I am trying to articulate: Our mindsets are foundational to everything we can do,” says Gottfredson. “If we can improve our mindsets, we can improve not only our thinking, our learning and our behavior, but also our success across our lives, our work and our leadership.”

Topping the Charts

The USA Today 150 best-selling books for the week ending April 26 ranked Success Mindsets at 75th place, the first week it had achieved a listing. It was among the most highly ranked business or personal-development titles of the week.

Why is Gottfredson’s book so popular? The author has some theories.

“There is a lot of good mindset material out there, but I believe my book is the most comprehensive and research-backed book on mindsets to date,” says Gottfredson. “I’m hearing from readers that it is causing them to do the deepest introspective dive they have ever done. It is enhancing their self-awareness and empowering them to reach their goals.”

For More Information

In additional to Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and most retailers, Gottfredson’s book is also available on his personal website, where it can be ordered in paperback, ebook or audiobook format, with exclusive book release bonuses.

Read more about Professor Gottfredson’s research on mindsets.

a few students walking around the front of Cal State Fullerton's campus Quarantine looks different for all of us Titans. Some have moved back home with added responsibilities or returned to different states entirely. Our daily routines have been disrupted with losing our extracurriculars, jobs or other commitments. While we’ve been doing this online transition for some time, we do not have the same schedule as before. It is getting increasingly difficult to get up early in the morning when we don’t have class, especially during this stressful semester. We have a variety of coping mechanisms, including working out, meditating, art, friends and more. What is important is realizing this is a time of adjustment and to honor the struggles we are going through.

Some days are simply more productive than others. With more time on our hands, it doesn’t necessarily mean that our load has been lightened. Assignments have changed, and we have had to adapt to a whole new learning style. There are days where you’re able to finish up that essay, but it seems like the most daunting task on another day. Sometimes, getting out of bed to even go to your Zoom lecture is overwhelming, potentially because we do not have our classmates surrounding us to stay awake. Alarms do not have the same meaning as they did when we were on campus, but we are doing the best we can to finish strong. Taking care of ourselves and understanding when we are most productive will alleviate some of the stress associated with the lack of motivation we experience. Not every second of the day should be dedicated to working, so you should engage in those activities you love just as much as you study.

I know a lot of us miss our friends, classmates, professors and even the random person we saw every day in the hallway. Personally, I’ve noticed how important it is to consistently check in with my friends via video call since everyone is going through this differently. Reaching out and connecting with each other a few times a week gives a small sense of normality in this quarantine life, so incorporating that into your schedule is a great step. We may not be able to see each other for some time, but that doesn’t mean our friendships get to go on pause. Our classmates, friends, and professors are here to support us during this stressful time, so engage the extra time you do have to catch up with them. 

As much as we hear this quarantine can be productive, online learning is hard. Some of our professors prefer asynchronous instruction and others are engaging in lectures, but it is still difficult to adjust. We chose our classes according to our learning style last semester, so we should give ourselves more credit for being able to adapt to this new method. Motivation is at an all-time low for various reasons, but being understanding of yourself during this time is very important. Put your best personal foot forward, and do not compare yourself to all the influences around you; it is not a competition of who can be the most productive during a pandemic. We are all going through this together, and just being able to finish the semester as strong as you can is an accomplishment. 

On that note, our entire environment may have changed. For those living on campus or near campus, going back home has been an adjustment. We have parents and siblings that we may have not lived with for some months, so getting used to having everyone around again is difficult, especially when we are finishing up our semester. Finding a way to balance your responsibilities and family during a transitional semester is difficult. It may help to set boundaries and be open about your needs to keep the peace at home, as well as a bit of sanity when you are with the same individuals daily. 

We are also in a constant state of confusion. Between the credit/no credit policy, new ways of taking finals, and the uncertainty of our fall semester, we don’t exactly know what the next few months will look like. It is important to stay grounded on what we do know and try not to stress about the unknown. As we have adapted in the past, we can look to the future with more assurance that we will be able to handle what it brings to us. 

Boredom is the biggest driver of this quarantine. We have exhausted all the Netflix shows, scrolled endlessly on social media, and tried so many recipes that we are reaching a new level of not knowing what to do with ourselves. Trying to stay busy all the time is also difficult because of the responsibilities we do have, leading us to feeling slightly more burned out at home than we originally thought. Let yourself be bored, and you don’t necessarily have to be productive in what you choose to pass the time. Sure, we can find new hobbies and the millions of other ideas on Pinterest, but sometimes you can just take a nap or watch a rerun of an old movie. Being as happy as we can be is the most important element in this quarantine because it is testing our mental strength, so engage in things that will bring a smile to your face. 

With all that considered, we have been through a lot in the past few months. From the fear of going outside sometimes to questions about the new normal, our lives have been turned upside down with little guidance on how to bounce back. Having older parents and grandparents is an added responsibility to consider when we moved back home. Not knowing when we will return to the old way of doing things is frightening, since that’s how most of us have lived up until this point. We can feel scared during this pandemic and understanding how to cope with it is key to moving forward in the uncertainty we experience. 

Overall, it is important for us to be there for one another and support ourselves as well during this time. Take life a day at a time, and do not fall under the influential pressure of being the most productive person during quarantine. Even if we are home all the time, this is not a vacation by any means. We are going through a lot mentally, and you should treat yourself with adequate care, just as you would normally. Be resilient Titans–we’ve got this!

 

Students walking on Cal State Fullerton campus holding handsWith finals around the corner during a global pandemic, it has been a difficult semester for Titans. Our motivation, discipline and mental health have been tested in new ways. These last two weeks before finals are the most important in our semester, but we have to also take care of ourselves to perform the best we can. How do we stay sane during finals? There are several ways to enhance your studying and self-care: 

Motivation

We all remember when we first started college and the feeling of accomplishment for making it to Cal State Fullerton. Use that motivation to get you through this time of uncertainty. You may have a seemingly endless amount of deadlines, but they are there to keep you on track toward reaching your future goals. Remind yourself of your “why” and use it as your biggest motivator. 

Procrastination Elimination

With Netflix, social media and our kitchen at our finger tips, we have to remember that we still have a few weeks left of school. Procrastinating may be the more fun idea while in quarantine, but those late nights before exams are going to be just as bad as they would be if you were headed to campus. Avoid leaving your assignments for the last minute, and instead, use your extra time to space out your studying so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. 

Study Buddies

Who says we can’t still study with our friends? If you learn better in a group setting, hop on a Zoom call with some of your classmates for a study date. Together, you can virtually review flashcards, share screens, test each other and so much more. It may be a little different than what we are used to, but it will bring collaboration back to your study sessions.

Manage Your Stress

During the COVID-19 crisis, our lives have been turned a bit upside down, and our stress levels have risen over the past few weeks. Don’t forget to check in with yourself and make sure you are not overworking. Being burnt out going into finals isn’t going to benefit you or your grades, so take the time to work breaks into your studying. Take a walk, call a friend, bake a goodie, or anything else you enjoy to de-stress in the middle of your study sessions. You may not think you have enough time with so many deadlines, but it will make you that much more productive to be able to think with a clear head.

Self-care equals best care

In addition to managing your stress, you must also designate enough time to your own self-care. Make sure you are consistently doing the things you love and also checking in on your mental and physical health. Journaling, meditating or exercising are some ways to keep yourself grounded despite the deadlines looming around you. You are your first priority, and do not forget that when you are studying.

Reach Out

Everyone knows this is a difficult time, so even if you are hesitant to reach out for help, it may be the best decision for you right now. The multiple resource centers at CSUF and Mihaylo College are here to support us during the stressful weeks, so take advantage of what they have to offer if you need assistance. Reach out to your friends, loved ones, mentors, family and anyone else in your support system when you are feeling overwhelmed. The key is to initiate communication with those individuals so they may help you. 

Overall, we know spring 2020 has been the toughest semester yet at Cal State Fullerton. Despite that fact, we will come out of this pandemic stronger and more united than we have ever been. Keep going strong Titans, you got this!

See how building up resilience will change your life.

Learn three tips for better communication at work.

The Latino Communications Institute (LCI) at Cal State Fullerton has grown since its creation in 2013 and extended its outreach as it focuses on Latino issues in Orange County. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the institute is collaborating with the Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) to disseminate health-related information in Spanish through Facebook Live.  

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) websites and other news outlets are not easily understood by people with language barriers, and the LCI and OCTA are working to help Spanish-speakers get the information they need. LCI Director Inez Gonzalez Perezchica enlisted the help of Maria Matza, CSUF associate professor of nursing, to provide and translate vital information from the Orange County Health Department and the CDC website for the broadcast.

Read more in this CSUF News article.