Like many people with a newly acquired bachelor’s degree, Brandman University alumna Allison Colerick was hoping she would be working in her field, if not her human resources/event planning dream job, within weeks or at least a month or two.
But after graduating in 2012, when unemployment rates were still high and with no experience beyond schoolwork in human resources, she discovered the jobs she wanted were ones requiring three to five years of experience.
“I applied for everything,” she remembered recently. “I was just applying, applying, applying.”
Even the job she eventually landed, working the front desk at Christian Community Credit Union, called for more banking-related experience than she had. Although she had struggled with self-confidence during earlier interviews, finding a company she was comfortable working for and a job that looked like it had the potential for leading to something more helped boost her self-confidence.
“I knew I had the skills to be marketable, but it took convincing myself that I was worthy of being hired,” she said.
Climbing the career ladder
The job did have potential. Within five months she received a promotion and then another.
“I learned quite a bit but what was missing was the creative side of things,” she said. She wanted to make use of what she had learned about human resources and planning as a business major.
And then it finally happened. A human resources position as corporate trainer opened and Colerick was ready.
“I wear a few different hats within that title,” said Colerick, who now handles annual financial compliance training, orientations for new hires and event planning.
Colerick said her Brandman education helped her every step of the way, including deciding on a human resources focus when studying for her bachelor’s degree.
“When I was trying to pick my line of study, I was confused. I knew I wanted a career with a creative outlet but not much else. I changed my mind at least once a year,” she said. After earning an associate degree at Mt. San Antonio Community College (Mt. SAC), she decided to take a chance on online education and enrolled at Brandman.
“From the moment I applied, my admissions counselor was such a huge support,” she said. Working with Alan Cranis, now a senior academic advisor, she found someone willing to answer every question.
“At Mt. SAC, my biggest complaint was the lack of support. It felt like I had to figure it all out on own.”
It was Cranis who suggested a human resource emphasis might fit with her interests.
“Allison knew she wanted a B.B.A. I just helped guide her to a concentration that fit the career she was seeking,” said Cranis. “I tell my students that choosing a degree may take time, but all our conversations are valuable.”
Growing as a student
She was also impressed with the support she received from the faculty, even though she wasn’t meeting them in person. “The course with Dr. (Helen) Eckmann was probably the highlight. She broke down that wall of it being a virtual course. She made you think about things differently. She made me excited about learning again and changed what college had been for me in the past.”
Colerick was so happy with her Brandman education she was among the founders of the Alumni Association.
“I loved attending Brandman so I wanted to stay involved,” she said. It’s another outlet for her interest in event planning but also a way to be an advocate for the kind of personal support Brandman provided and gives her an opportunity to offer support to others seeking career changes.
“Don’t be afraid to start in a position that seems lower than you would like. Just go in and prove yourself.”
Jennifer Cota-Robles contributed to this report.