Graduation caps are flying through the air as recent graduates celebrate embarking on a new chapter of life. As they leave college behind the, their recent excitement might turn to fear as they face the daunting, intimidating task ahead: finding a job.
For many students, the process of obtaining a degree can feel like preschool when compared to the task of finding a job out of college. Getting advice from professors on campus may help students learn how to separate themselves from the multitudes of new graduates entering the job market.
“The most common question I get from students is, ‘What do I need to do to get a job?’” said Cal Poly associate entrepreneurship professor Jonathan York.
With more than 25 years experience as a CEO in multiple industries including health care, software, venture capital and economic development, York brings a successful entrepreneur’s perspective to his teaching role at Cal Poly.
Therefore, the tips he gives students are to focus on accountability, communication and network building, all of which he promotes around campus.
York doesn’t take himself too seriously, though. According to former students, he carries himself professionally. Students, such as Leary, said they respect York because of the way he communicates.
“I sincerely appreciate that Dr. York treats each of his students as capable adults,” Leary said.
Business administration senior Will Newhart is another one of York’s students who looks to York as a professional example.
“Dr. York is the reason that the entrepreneurship program is as phenomenal as it is,” Newhart said. “His extensive experience as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist make him both a knowledgeable and highly respected educator and mentor. Personally, Professor York has served as an extremely influential mentor.”
Newhart, like Leary, also said the way York communicates with his students is a major reason he is a successful professor.
“Dr. York treats everyone with respect, but he is not hesitant to express his displeasure with an individual or class when they fall short of his expectations,” Newhart said. “As a consequence, I have become hyper vigilant of how I carry myself when engaging in business interactions and maintaining the appropriate level of professionalism.”
York said his high expectations for students stem from his sympathy with college students who are looking for work.
“The days of finding jobs easily are over, and if you sit back and wait for something to happen, it never will,” he said. “College is a strange transition between being controlled by others and being controlled by yourself.”
The most important lesson to learn from college is everyone has complete control of their actions, York said. By doing so, York was able to obtain two degrees during his college years.
York received his bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1972 and received his doctorate degree in psychology in 1979. He was first inspired to become an entrepreneur when he experienced the Internet for the first time. By the ‘90s, he had already worked as the CEO of multiple companies.
In March of 1996, his own Internet-based software company was born — fourthchannel. York said he saw the Internet as more than an exciting new technology.
“At the time I thought, ‘Ah, that really has the opportunity to change the way things are done,’” he said.
In the middle of his career, York became more than an entrepreneur. He said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to teach what he loved and inspire others along the way.
Cal Poly offered York his first teaching position in 2009 within the Orfalea College of Business. His wife Kathleen moved with him that fall from Columbus, Ohio.
On April 14, York will host an Entrepreneurship Forum, which is the fourth in the series of events hosted by the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
York said he enjoys running the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship because he enjoys encouraging students to network with business professionals.
“The only way to learn it is by doing it.”