Marisol Cardenas began her career and earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Cal State Fullerton. She now is an assessment professional at Cal Poly Pomona.For Marisol Cardenas ’09, ’14, a career in higher education started in a temporary job at Mihaylo College while a transfer student studying marketing. After serving as the college’s assessment coordinator for four years, she is now advancing in her career at Cal Poly Pomona, where she is serving as educational learning and assessment specialist for the Division of Student Affairs. Cardenas discusses her story and how working students can maximize their time at CSUF.

When Marisol Cardenas arrived at Mihaylo College in 2007, she was the mother of a nine-month-old child and commuted daily more than 80 miles round-trip. Over the next two years, she worked full-time on campus while maintaining a full-time course schedule. After earning her undergraduate degree, she pursued an M.S. in higher education from Cal State Fullerton, graduating in 2014.

More than a decade later, what began as a temporary job has blossomed into a career in higher education. Cardenas has helped incoming transfer students acclimate to university life in BUAD 300 – Professional and Career Development, and as assessment coordinator, she has worked to ensure that the college best educates its diverse student body.

As she starts a new assessment role at Cal Poly Pomona, she shares her advice for maximizing your career while still in college.

Advice for Working Students

Cardenas says her experience makes her empathetic to the challenges that many of today’s students face and hopes to devote her career to helping them succeed. “Many students in the Cal State system work full-time or at least 20 hours or more each week. It isn’t easy for many of them to balance their responsibilities,” she says. “There are a lot of sacrifices, but it is important to have a goal in mind, because that serves as a great motivator.”

While many working students may not see their current job as relating to their future, Cardenas says identifying transferable skills from entry-level or non-career positions can help students and graduates best develop their résumés. “In any job, you gain time management skills, oral communication and problem-solving abilities,” says Cardenas. “By balancing this experience with the resources available in school and having a goal in mind, students can best prepare for their futures.”

Starting Your Career at Cal State Fullerton

From student-assistant employment and non-student staff positions to on-campus customer service roles at Titan Shops and food establishments, there are a number of job opportunities available to Titans. Cardenas notes such roles can give students a jumpstart in their career while helping them prioritize their academics.

“Working at CSUF provides the flexibility of being on campus, making it possible to be more connected with the institution and its faculty and staff,” says Cardenas. “The college and university offer programs and structures for great support. All that I have achieved has been through the support of others. Additionally, on-campus supervisors are usually very supportive of your academic needs and goals.”

For more on job and career opportunities at Cal State Fullerton, visit the regularly updated Career Opportunities at CSUF page.