Mixer Connects Recent College Grads with Employers
Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Mike Lansing with College Bound program alumni at the Careers for College Graduates Networking Mixer on Jan. 7. (Photo: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor)
More than 40 companies and 60 recent or soon-to-be college graduates from the Harbor Area turned out for a first-of-its-kind career mixer at the Grand Annex on Tuesday night.
Organized by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor, Plaza Automotive Center owner Mitch Harmatz, and the nonprofit International Trade Education Programs (ITEP), the Careers for College Graduates Networking Mixer brought together job seekers with harbor area businesses looking for local, college-educated hires.
“I just thought there was a big need for something like this,” said Harmatz, who previously put together a few smaller mixers called Dinner for 10, which usually became Dinner for 15+.
“It was popular and we kept over subscribing so we decided this year to add a bigger event,” he said, adding that a number of RSVPs to Tuesday’s event were college seniors on winter break. The turnout far exceeded initial expectations.
The night aimed to help local college graduates — including many who are products of the Boys & Girls Club’s successful College Bound program — with the next highly competitive step of landing their first, entry-level job.
“When I graduated from college I had so many opportunities; today it’s a different time,” Boys & Girls Club executive director Mike Lansing told the crowd before they spent the next hour mingling. “You cannot be a millennial who sits back and thinks that a job is going to come to you. You have to be aggressive and make a difference in this community and for your own life.”
Lansing was joined by ITEP CEO Amy Grat.
“I completely believe in the power of networking,” she said before conducting a show-of-hands poll in the room of how many people got their current jobs through networking versus responding to an ad (very few people raised their hands for the latter). “Your network is your net worth; that’s where you’re going to get your job.”
L.A. Harbor Commissioner Anthony Pirozzi offered a story about how networking with a customer when he was a grocery clerk at Vons led him to his first job out of college.
“He came through my line and heard me talking to the previous customer who came through about how I had just gotten my degree from Cal Poly, and before I knew it, he wrote his name and address on his receipt tape, gave it back to me, and now I’m a Boeing executive, where I’ve been for 24 years,” Pirozzi said.
Boeing, the Port of Los Angeles, Wells Fargo and Valero were just some of the companies interacting with grads. Representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Janice Hahn, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Joe Buscaino were also in attendance.
“I’m a College Bound alumni and I’m here to network and get a wider perspective on what I want to pursue,” said Jonathan Mata. The 21-year-old San Pedro native is heading back to Texas on Sunday for his last semester at Prairie View A&M University, where he studies criminal justice.
A number of recent graduates echoed shared experiences of coming home from college to compete for few entry-level positions, or job openings that require a minimum number of years of experience.
“I’ve had more internships than jobs, so now I’m feeling a little more pressure because it’s like, ‘Now what?’” said Cristina Velasquez, 23, who graduated with a communication degree from Sacramento State University last year. “Now it’s the real world and I really have to sell myself.”