El Camino MESA Students Prepare for Careers at Leadership Conference
Six talented El Camino College MESA (Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement) Program students recently networked with industry professionals in San Diego during an invite-only STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) conference.
MESA’s Student Leadership Conference brought hand-picked STEM students together with industry leaders to develop the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics leaders. This year’s conference challenged student teams to design a product or service (in about 30 hours) aimed at addressing a problem caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has proven to disproportionately impact underserved communities.
Unlike job fairs or speaker-only conferences, the MESA Student Leadership Conference gave students the unique opportunity to interact one-on-one and in small groups with company executives, engineers, and recruiters. Many often leave the conference with internship offers that lead to full-time employment. Students networked, attended leadership and communications workshops, and explored future career possibilities, in addition to completing the team challenge.
The two-day conference gave students a great opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and connect with STEM professionals including industry leaders and recruiters, said El Camino College MESA Director Arturo Hernandez.
“Participating students also had the opportunity to meet and interact with their MESA peers from other MESA programs across the state,” he added. “The conference included leadership and professional development workshops to enhance students’ resumes and networking skills to help prepare them to capitalize on opportunities for professional growth.”
El Camino MESA student Dai’Asha Davis said that the leadership conference was an overall excellent experience. She particularly enjoyed meeting other MESA students.
“Attending the conference has led to a breakthrough in how I view my future career as a chemistry major and connected me with recruiters looking for transfer students and students to hire,” said Davis, who plans to transfer to a UC campus in a couple of years.
The MESA Program guides diverse students from underrepresented backgrounds into STEM education and careers. El Camino’s MESA|STEM Program is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the state, serving hundreds of students each year. Students in the program are offered support for challenging coursework, leadership preparation, internships, research and scholarship opportunities, and problem-solving workshops.
Companies recognize the importance of engaging with and supporting MESA students — so much so they fully fund the conference with donations. This year’s sponsors include Edison International, Harris and Associates, Keysight, PG&E, Uber, SDG&E, Qualcomm, and Intel.
Additionally, professionals from those companies and others volunteered their weekends to present workshops, host career fair tables and lead students through the team challenge. Those companies included: Carollo Engineers, San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, Solar Turbines, Northrop Grumman, Intel, Electronic Arts, Rockwell Automation, Peraton, Google, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
El Camino students in attendance included Eliab Abebe, Pearl Macias, Claudia Arauz, Annalie Gallegos, Dai’Asha Davis, and Eric Diaz. They were joined by attendees representing campuses such as: UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, CSU Chico, CSU Long Beach, CSU Los Angeles, San Diego State University, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, USC, East Los Angeles College, Pasadena City College, Santa Barbara City College, San Diego City College, and Ventura College.
Each year, MESA serves over 20,000 students at the pre-college, community college and university levels across California. The 52-year-old organization bridges classroom learning with real-world applications, and employs rigorous academics, leadership preparation, a peer community and collaborative problem-solving training to produce highly skilled college graduates who meet 21st century STEM workforce needs.