Marketing Senior Helps Pave Career Path for Classmates
- Major: Marketing
- Class Of: 2016
“ I got involved because I wanted to meet people, make new friends. I wanted to challenge myself and build relationships on campus and that was my push to do it. ”
When Harry Lyles ran for president of Cal Poly Pomona’s American Marketing Association for the 2014-2015 academic year, his campaign slogan was “Good Vibes and High Fives.” Nobody knew it at the time, but good vibes would eventually be spread in the form of employment opportunities and high fives would be in celebration of those new careers.
The 25-year-old marketing senior admittedly played a minor role in the AMA’s inaugural career fair the year prior to taking the club’s reins. But like so many of his peers, he recognized the need for a college-specific career fair.
“AMA felt as business students and marketers, going to the Cal Poly Pomona career fair, it just didn’t have the concentration of marketing,” Lyles says. “Employers were hiring students from science and engineering fields. We wanted to do something different – specifically just for business people.”
Throughout the year, AMA has several events and the organization’s president is heavily involved in all of them. Lyles says that he took a special interest in the career fair because it was an opportunity to help students with similar objectives.
“In 2015, we stepped it up a notch, planned earlier and not only got bigger companies to come, they paid to have a table at our two-day career fair,” Lyles says. “We wanted to get companies that were actually really, really hiring people. We made it very clear to the companies coming, ‘If you don’t have anything, thanks but no thanks.’”
An increase in size also required beefing up the manpower behind the scenes of the career fair. Even with more than 60 members, the AMA and Lyles realized strength in numbers and enlisted the help of Pi Sigma Epsilon, the campus’s sales fraternity.
Rarely do competing college clubs work together on a project, but for the next few months AMA and Pi Sigma Epsilon members began contacting companies requesting lists of jobs they were hiring for with hot leads being funneled to academic advisors. This type of hands-on mentoring would be an important factor in the career fair’s success.
“We had weekly meetings every Thursday at 5 p.m. with [IBM Professor] Robert Fabrize,” Lyles says. “We discussed action items, what we’ve done and what needed to be done. Sometimes, he would kick our butts, but it was in the right direction when he did.”
Lyles’ didn’t start out in the marketing department. After transferring from a community college in Victorville, he was more poised to follow in his mother’s scientific footsteps by pursuing an environmental biology degree. The Lyles matriarch, now a retired biology teacher, is an alumna of Cal Poly Pomona’s agricultural science program.
“Knowing that chemistry wasn’t my strong suit, I switched over to business, went to an AMA meeting and immediately fell in love with the marketing side of things,” Lyles says. “I got involved because I wanted to meet people, make new friends. I wanted to challenge myself and build relationships on campus and that was my push to do it.”
According to Lyles, the career fair brought 15 companies to the College of Business Administration’s courtyard looking for qualified candidates to hire. A few of those companies took advantage of breakout rooms where onsite interviews could be held. He says that at last count, a dozen students were hired because of the career fair.
“It was a successful event,” Lyles says. “It was very stressful at times, but people got hired and people got jobs. I’m very proud we helped facilitate that.”
When it comes to his personal career choice, Lyles says he is still unsure. He has a network of contacts in the surf and motocross industries he could tap into. He also has an advisor pushing him toward a career in sales and he says the idea is always in the back of his head because of his people skills. Whatever he does, he’ll be taking the Bronco spirit with him.
“Obviously, our motto is ‘learn by doing’ and for me to get the best education I could out of Cal Poly Pomona, I had to do that,” Lyles says. “Getting involved, doing career fairs, doing two back-to-back marketing plans, learning how to organize a 60-member club … Those are the things that are going to help show me how to succeed.”