CEOs’ advice to college students: Network! Internships! Research!

This week’s question to the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: What
advice do you have for college students looking to become a part of South
Florida’s business community in the next few years?
There is some exciting news down the road 5 to 10 years in terms of new
industries materializing in Miami-Dade. In the near term, there are some
great market concentrations which should be the focus of our current crop
of students. Hospitality, aerospace, export trade are among 10 industry
groupings that show growth potential for our current and near future
Steven N. Adkins, president and CEO, Miami-Dade Gay &
Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Get out there in the workforce while you are still in college. Look for
internship opportunities or part time employment in your desired field of
work. Start building your LinkedIn network now. This will help you
discover what interests you most, and it will also position you well from the
perspective of the employers that are hiring.
Ron Antevy, president and CEO, e-Builder
College is not preparation for life — it is life! Students should start
searching for a job, even if they’re not. They should read classified ads to
see who is hiring, find growth fields specific to South Florida, and see what
employers are looking for. Then, they should start gaining those skills and
experiences in college, whether through coursework, unpaid internships, or
summer jobs.
Maria Arizmendi, behavior analyst and president, Progressive
Behavioral Science
As a parent of two college graduates and one a sophomore in college, my
guidance is based on the advice that I gave my children. My advice: 1.
Abandon your sense of entitlement; 2. be prepared to work your long hours
being the first in and the last out; 3. do not expect to be rewarded for doing
your job; 4. learn by listening and not by trying to change the system; and
5. be prepared to apply to many job opportunities and not be discouraged
by rejection. There is a wonderful future awaiting each of you.
Noah Breakstone, founder and managing partner, BTI Partners
Look ahead. Research jobs that likely will be available upon graduation,
research the skills needed to fill these jobs, take courses required to
prepare for available job opportunities, and do research to identify
employers for which you would like to work, and apply for internships with
these employers.
Bowman Brown, partner and chairman of the Executive
Committee and the Financial Services Practice Group of Shutts
& Bowen
I would recommend to them to travel a lot. I think that Florida is extremely
lucky to be a bridge between Latin America and the U.S. They should be
aware of the differences between countries, because many jobs in Florida
are multicultural or even far abroad. Traveling is the best cure for
Ismael El-Qudsi, CEO, Internet República/
Network, network, network! Make sure that you are not only doing well in
your classes but that you get involved on and off campus. Building a strong
connection with your peers, the school’s administration, and alumni will be
key to your future success. Don’t forget that your classmate may be a future
work colleague, referral source, or even boss. Join student body
organizations and get involved in volunteer organizations off campus. Do
not be afraid to introduce yourself to professionals. Getting your dream job
will require more than just good grades! Network!
Patricia Elizee, managing partner, Elizee Law Firm
Test the waters, stay curious and move around till you find the right fit.
There are a lot of angles to our business community, and they all seem to
connect. A travel career here can take you to hotels, airlines, cruise lines —
and maybe all of the above. When you’re starting out, don’t get
discouraged. There’s more than one path to success.
Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
At Miami Jewish Health, particularly with the changing healthcare
environment, there is a need for sharp, analytical business people to
support our care-giving community. More and more of what we do will be
determined by data and how we interpret and utilize it.
Jeffrey Freimark, president and CEO, Miami Jewish Health
Internships go a long way toward developing contacts that often lead to a
student’s first job. Internships also help bolster one’s résumé in a world
where you often can’t get a job because you lack experience, but nobody
wants to give you a chance at obtaining that experience. College students
should engage their professors and school counselors to help them land
those important internships in the local business community.
James Haj, president and CEO, The Children’s Trust of Miami-
Dade County
First of all, they will not become the CEO the day after graduation. It will
take progressive realization of a worthy goal they persist in achieving.
However, there are many avenues to learn and explore. At NSU, we offer
internships, clinical rotations and other experiential opportunities.
Students need to become part of the South Florida business community
before they graduate. If you begin to actively cultivate your network and
seek out hands-on experience post-graduation, that’s too late — the time to
start is now, and you’re the person who can advance your own career. And
of course, I always encourage students — and anyone else — looking to
advance their education or career to come to NSU and experience firsthand
our commitment to experiential learning and outcome-driven
George Hanbury, president and CEO, Nova Southeastern
Minimize the number of online courses. Go to a classroom and interact
with other students. Interact with professors, administrators and other
individuals who have forgotten more than you will ever know. Stop taking
out loans that will burden you financially for decades. Embark on a course
of study and a career that you have a genuine passion for.
Bob Hohenstein, president and CEO, Miami-Dade County Youth
Fair and Exposition
South Florida is a gateway to the world. Many start-up companies, Fortune
500 and international companies have offices here, making it a great place
for college graduates to jump-start their careers. We find that the best
entry-level candidates have been those who dedicated a large amount of
time in acquiring hands-on experience during their college years. There are
also many great networking opportunities for young professionals to get
involved in the community and share ideas.
Arden Karson, senior managing director, CBRE
Whatever industry each student is planning to be part of, my best advice is
to do research and look for companies that are well established and have
career growth opportunities. Once you narrow down the companies, start
at any entry level position, even if it’s not related to your field of study.
Prove yourself through great work ethics, do the best you can within that
job, and show your employer that you are always seeking to expand your
knowledge through continuous education.
Juan Carlos Marchan, COO, Centurion Restaurant Group
Build relationships, hone your communications skills, take the time to
learn and work hard, stay focused and be humble. Natural leaders know
what their assets are — what they’re good at and where they need help.
Don’t try to do something that’s outside your skill set; instead, find
mentors who can help you learn and become better.
David Martin, president and co-founder, Terra
The best way to become integrated in the business community is through
networking with homegrown entrepreneurs and seeking out job
opportunities and internships with independent businesses. Small
companies offer a chance to learn skills that may not be accessible in a
large corporate setting. There’s no substitute for on-the-job-training, and
the contacts you make at your first job will pay dividends throughout your
career, especially if you stay local. At Rickenbacker Marina, we hire parttime
college students and interns who get training in accounting and
bookkeeping, and we create opportunities for them to interface with clients
and vendors as much as possible.
Aabad Melwani, president, Rickenbacker Marina and managing
principal, Marina PARC
Get out of the campus bubble and connect with industry leaders,
associations and events that are relevant to your field. Do an internship
with a local firm, find a mentor, volunteer. Engaging in these activities will
ensure that they’ve established a valuable network of contacts before
needing to make the next step in their careers.
Kevin V. Michael, co-founder and managing partner, Invizio,
Whenever I speak with a student, there are four main points — my words
of wisdom — that I always discuss with them: 1. I encourage students to get
involved and learn about our community, to understand the current
economic climate and know what careers are in high demand. For example,
we know in Broward County, teachers and nurses are critical to our
community; 2. I suggest working with our career centers. Students can find
hands-on opportunities to learn about internships aligned to their
academic programs and even secure jobs with our partner companies; 3. I
tell them to find a mentor, someone in their industry they can learn from
and speak with. Why recreate the wheel when you can learn from another’s
wisdom? 4. Most importantly, I urge our students to take advantage of
meetings with their adviser to outline their academic and course map. This
will help them make sure they take the right classes in the shortest amount
of time so they can enter the workforce prepared and with the least amount
of debt!
Avis Proctor, vice president of academic affairs and president,
North Campus at Broward College
In the immortal words of Walter Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky’s father: “Skate
to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Accordingly, I would
encourage the next generation to explore growth industries like technology,
healthcare, real estate development and construction.
Matthew Rieger, president and CEO, Housing Trust Group
Research what is happening down here, sectors that are growing, see the
plans the county and municipalities are putting in place to stimulate new
business and company relocation. We’re experiencing growth in so many
unique sectors — from the arts and healthcare to technology and education
— so students should prepare themselves with the skills relevant to those
sectors. You don’t have to be a coder, but you can and should learn the
basics of how digital works. And take languages seriously; bi- and trilingual
candidates are always preferred.
Jackie Soffer, co-chairman and CEO, Turnberry Associates
Don’t be afraid or feel above doing the grunt work. It’s important to learn
processes for yourself and find solutions without depending on someone
else. The knowledge gained from rolling up your sleeves is invaluable for
young people.
Ivannia Van Arman, executive director, Lincoln Road Business
Improvement District