The real world: Hayward

Erik Khan,
Staff Writer

Dear Fellow Cal State East Bay Students,

Like many of you, I transferred to East Bay from a community college. During my senior year in high school, parents would ask me where I was going to college. I would shrug and inform them I wasn’t going to leave the area. “I’m just going to Diablo Valley College,” I’d say. They would fire back a casual “good for you,” but their judgmental vibe couldn’t be ignored.

While the majority of my friends were off to four-year universities, financed by their parents, I was stuck at home. My single mother didn’t have the financial means to pay for my college education, so that burden fell on me. I had solid grades; however, it made no sense to go to a four-year school when I could save thousands of dollars at community college.

If you met me at East Bay, you know I’m an extremely positive guy. However, this wasn’t always the case. I used to be a “go with the flow” type, extremely passive and mellow. That all changed when I stepped foot on the DVC campus. Instead of being disappointed that I stayed home for college, I decided I would be ambitious and embrace the route I chose.

As a freshman, this ambitious and positive attitude earned me a promotion to server from busboy at the restaurant I worked at since my sophomore year in high school.

Fast forward two and a half years: I gained an A.A. in communications from DVC and prepared to transfer to a four-year school to pursue a bachelor’s degree. The question: Which school? I wanted to go somewhere new, to stick it to all of those Walnut Creek parents that talked trash about me behind closed doors for going the junior college route.

However, I knew the best decision was for me to stay in the Bay Area. I had recently been promoted to lead server and closing manager at the restaurant, which gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. Due to the shorter commute, I chose East Bay over San Francisco State.

I informed those same parents and disapproving restaurant regulars of my decision, seeking their validation. Nope. The judgmental vibes were felt again. Though they congratulated me on “actually getting out of DVC,” they also felt like I should also get out of my comfort zone.

How are you going to tell me to get out of my comfort zone when I either see you once a year when your kid is back from school or when I bring you a martini twice a month? Those close to me were supportive, but these folks were the complete opposite.

I wanted to have a job lined up for when I graduated, so at the end of the 2015 fall quarter, I began to research what jobs I would be eligible for with a communications degree. I found various positions, but IT Technical Recruiter stood out to me. The job would require me to connect IT talent throughout the Silicon Valley with contract work for companies like Google, Apple and Ebay.

I applied to a couple of firms, not expecting any responses. After all, it was impossible to get a job after graduating from college, especially with a degree from a meager school like East Bay, right? Wrong.

Responses from these companies’ internal recruiters flooded my inbox, and one of them instantly set up a phone call with me. She was impressed with my resume and after multiple phone interviews, wanted me to come into the office to meet with their director of business operations. While I was stricken with anxiety, I graciously accepted.

I met with them in February and they too were impressed with my background. The interview lasted an hour and a half, and included a plethora of questions that ranged from my life goals to my enrollment at East Bay, which they regarded as an “exceptional school.”

The following Monday I received a call from them offering me a position when I graduated in the spring. I was ecstatic, knowing that all my hard work had finally paid off. I accepted and started last Monday at their San Jose office.

I’ve had to chance to inform some of those parents and guests at the restaurant that I have been offered and accepted a full time job with a major tech staffing company this summer. Their response: “We’re so proud of you. We knew you could do it and believed in you the whole time.”

Nothing quite like being lied straight to your face.

Look, I’m not writing this to brag. I’m writing this because I’m sure that plenty of my fellow Pioneers can relate to the experiences that I described above. Being judged for taking the community college route or going to East Bay is common. Guess what? Those people are wrong. Do you. Once you get the degree, the playing field is level. It doesn’t matter how you got here, all that matters is that you’re here. Employers don’t care. They look for hardworking people who are willing to make a commitment. They’re looking for people like my fellow Pioneers.