Alumni of Loyola Marymount University’s Civil Engineering and Environmental Science Department know what it’s like to face the chasm between school and work. Now, they’ve come together to form a bridge to help students cross that chasm comfortably into successful careers.
The 40-plus-member Council for Industry Partnerships – CIP – is dedicated to helping CEES students broaden their viewpoints beyond course requirements, test scores and GPAs by offering real-life perspectives of the industry and the skills they’ll need to succeed.
“We put ourselves into the student’s shoes, remembering the questions we had and the challenges we faced,” said Paul Hauffen ’94, the council’s president and president and CEO of IDModeling, Inc. “The more we can provide insight for students as to what’s on the other side of graduation, the better prepared they’ll be to carry LMU’s legacy forward.”
The CIP mentors students, provides practical perspectives to help students align their senior projects with industry expectations, and brings an industry perspective to the department’s curriculum and supporting accreditation.
Nearly all 100 CEES students attended the CIP’s kickoff event last fall, where they conversed with alumni and faculty about the transition from academics to work.
For Cassie Nickles, a senior civil engineering major and president of LMU’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the human connection is the primary benefit of the council. “It’s nice to know that you have a friend out there who’s willing to drop things and say, ‘Yeah, I’ll chat with you.’”
Nickles has benefited from that connection, exploring with industry contacts their paths to graduate school, as well as internship possibilities. The council’s industry network is also paying off for students by helping to place them in internships as Nickles’ roommate benefitted this way.
Since its formation in 2015, the CIP has grown quickly and includes alumni who graduated from the 1960s through 2013. An ad hoc subcommittee on communications was formed to spread the word through traditional and social media.
Christiana Daisy ’91, MBA ’03 – the CIP’s vice president and operations manager at West Basin Municipal Water District — has fielded a range of student questions from whether they should go to graduate school to which aspect of civil engineering they ought to pursue. To Daisy’s delight, one student recently sought advice on how to turn down one of two job offers without burning any bridges.
“LMU is known for personal attention and for educating the whole person,” said Daisy, who is heading up a workshop to provide students with skills to land their first job. “With the CIP, we’re hoping to add to that approach.”