A match made in Hollywood
Alumni mentor helps aspiring performer think out of the box in job hunt
Cal State L.A. student Ben Caron and his mentor Barry Gordon ’86 catch up about summer work opportunities in the entertainment industry during their regularly scheduled Alumni Mentoring Program meeting.
Tips on career transitions
After spending several decades in a career, you might start thinking you have learned everything there is to know about a field.
You’ve mastered the skills you need to succeed. You know how to market yourself and where to look for the next opportunity. But what if you were just starting your career today, would you know where to begin?
That is a dilemma that many of our students, graduates and even alumni who are transitioning to a new career confront each year. And in today’s economy, knowing how, where, and when to start can be more important than ever.
Well, the CSULA Alumni Association has a solution for easing the transition. Through its Alumni Mentoring Program, students and alumni who are on the move are matched up with experienced, professional alumni who can help guide them through the process.
“You have to have a real sense for what the world looks like. You have to talk to people who have been in it,” said Barry Gordon ’86. “And that’s what the mentoring program is all about.”
Gordon, the current vice president and former president of the CSULA Alumni Association, was one of the first mentors to be paired up with a mentee, past president of the Student Alumni Association Ben Caron. A theatre and music double major who plans to graduate next spring, Caron is interested in pursuing a career in writing, directing and acting — all areas of firsthand expertise for Gordon, who began his career in the entertainment industry at the age of 3.
Since then, Gordon has worked in film, television, produced a CD and worked as a radio talk show host, among other things. He was also the longest—serving president of the Screen Actors Guild, holding the position from 1988 to 1995.
“It’s a great relationship we have cultivated,” Caron said. “Barry has all the inside information on the industry.
“Not only do I get the chance to network, I have someone to use as a sounding board and answer all my questions — about auditions, agents,” said Caron. “I always tell other students: ‘Wouldn’t you like to have someone to talk about your resume with or practice for an interview?’”
The mentoring program, up and running since 2008, has more than 150 students and alumni participants. Matches are made through a careful selection process that looks at each individual’s career goals and interests, and program expectations.
For more information, or to get involved as mentor or mentee, you can download an application or call the Alumni Association at (323) 343-ALUM (2586).