Cal Poly Pomona’s virtual Alumni Professor for a Day (PFAD) featured more than 140 industry professionals from the graduating classes of 1968 through 2020. Held since 1998, alumni partner with faculty to speak with university students in their classroom. Alumni share their achievements and provide tips to students on how to apply their Cal Poly Pomona experience to the real world. Visit the Alumni Affairs webpage on how you can partner with Cal Poly Pomona and students.
Three alumni share their first-time experience at this year’s Professor for a Day:
- Zachary Doiron (’16, hospitality management)
Learning and development coordinator, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar
- Rebecca (Carter) Mikhaylov, (’03, aerospace engineering)
Assistant section manager for Payload and Small Spacecraft Mechanical Engineering Section, JPL
- Christine Lac (‘18, marketing management)
Senior human resources coordinator, Tesla
Why did you want to participate in PFAD?
Doiron: It is such a rewarding gift to speak with students about the hospitality industry because it is something I am truly passionate about.
Mikhaylov: I recently had a work experience that reminded me of an activity from my CPP classroom and I reached out to my former professor. He then invited me to participate in PFAD.
Lac: My professor Lydia Chen asked if I was interested, and I said yes because I thought it would be a neat experience.
What was an enjoyable part of PFAD?
Doiron: The most enjoyable part was engaging in dialogue with the students and professor.
Mikhaylov: I enjoyed reconnecting with my professor, nearly 20 years later, and reminiscing with my friends from the classes (we are still in touch after all these years!). It was nice to go back in time and recognize how some of the CPP experiences shaped me today.
Lac: Being able to speak publicly about work experience is always good for me since I’ve been wanting to share more of my experience.
What advice did you give to students?
Doiron: Asking yourself or seeking out the reason (the why) behind learning each core competency while in school is key to applying it to your career.
Mikhaylov: As an engineering manager, I focused on the “people management” side during my talk rather than technical. My talk spoke to the diversity in the classroom as well as living on campus and how that is a microcosm for “learn by doing” in relationships in the working world as well.
Lac: Work smarter, not harder.
What was an important lesson you learned when you were a Bronco?
Doiron: I learned how to function well in a team which has yielded great results in my career.
Mikhaylov: While a Bronco, I gravitated to the “learn-by doing” philosophy, which I still appreciate today. Every role I’ve taken has been a new one and I realize that I have the skill set to ask questions, find others that can help, as well as analyze and process that information to make decisions myself. Whether it was in an engineering class, where sometimes there is only a “right” answer, the truth is, oftentimes there isn’t. And learning the process of how to tackle those unknown answers and simply try your best is an important lesson.
Lac: It’s good to learn a bit of everything, finance, marketing, operations – you’ll never know what you’ll learn.
Who was an important mentor to you at CPP?
Doiron: I had a few: Barbara Jean Bruin, Ben Dewald, Margie Jones, Chef Sheree Mooney, Dr. Chesser.
Mikhaylov: I didn’t have a traditional mentor at CPP, but I would say that I surrounded myself with others that I respected and treated me equally as such. They seemed to be curious, always interested in learning, appreciated different perspectives, and used that to help build an inclusive dialogue.
Lac: Lydia Chen, DJ Norman.
Why is it important for you to give back to Cal Poly Pomona in this way?
Doiron: It is important to me because these students are the future and if I can do any small part to help shape the future for good, it is an honor and a gift.
Mikhaylov: I wanted students to see a glimpse of their future potential because I used to sit in their same seat.
Lac: People were helpful to me so it’s important to give back to the community.