Business Monday

CEOs’ advice to college students: Network! Internships! Research!

Maylin Castillo listens to teacher Lesley Nadal (not in picture) during a class for students who want to become teachers at Miami Dade InterAmerican Campus in September.
Maylin Castillo listens to teacher Lesley Nadal (not in picture) during a class for students who want to become teachers at Miami Dade InterAmerican Campus in September.

This week’s question to the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: What advice do you have for college students looking to become a part of South Florida’s business community in the next few years?


There is some exciting news down the road 5 to 10 years in terms of new industries materializing in Miami-Dade. In the near term, there are some great market concentrations which should be the focus of our current crop of students. Hospitality, aerospace, export trade are among 10 industry groupings that show growth potential for our current and near future grads.

Steven N. Adkins, president and CEO, Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce


Get out there in the workforce while you are still in college. Look for internship opportunities or part time employment in your desired field of work. Start building your LinkedIn network now. This will help you discover what interests you most, and it will also position you well from the perspective of the employers that are hiring.

Ron Antevy, president and CEO, e-Builder


College is not preparation for life — it is life! Students should start searching for a job, even if they’re not. They should read classified ads to see who is hiring, find growth fields specific to South Florida, and see what employers are looking for. Then, they should start gaining those skills and experiences in college, whether through coursework, unpaid internships, or summer jobs.

Maria Arizmendi, behavior analyst and president, Progressive Behavioral Science


As a parent of two college graduates and one a sophomore in college, my guidance is based on the advice that I gave my children. My advice: 1. Abandon your sense of entitlement; 2. be prepared to work your long hours being the first in and the last out; 3. do not expect to be rewarded for doing your job; 4. learn by listening and not by trying to change the system; and 5. be prepared to apply to many job opportunities and not be discouraged by rejection. There is a wonderful future awaiting each of you.

Noah Breakstone, founder and managing partner, BTI Partners


Look ahead. Research jobs that likely will be available upon graduation, research the skills needed to fill these jobs, take courses required to prepare for available job opportunities, and do research to identify employers for which you would like to work, and apply for internships with these employers.

Bowman Brown, partner and chairman of the Executive Committee and the Financial Services Practice Group of Shutts & Bowen


I would recommend to them to travel a lot. I think that Florida is extremely lucky to be a bridge between Latin America and the U.S. They should be aware of the differences between countries, because many jobs in Florida are multicultural or even far abroad. Traveling is the best cure for ignorance.

Ismael El-Qudsi, CEO, Internet República/


Network, network, network! Make sure that you are not only doing well in your classes but that you get involved on and off campus. Building a strong connection with your peers, the school’s administration, and alumni will be key to your future success. Don’t forget that your classmate may be a future work colleague, referral source, or even boss. Join student body organizations and get involved in volunteer organizations off campus. Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to professionals. Getting your dream job will require more than just good grades! Network!

Patricia Elizee, managing partner, Elizee Law Firm


Test the waters, stay curious and move around till you find the right fit. There are a lot of angles to our business community, and they all seem to connect. A travel career here can take you to hotels, airlines, cruise lines — and maybe all of the above. When you’re starting out, don’t get discouraged. There’s more than one path to success.

Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.


At Miami Jewish Health, particularly with the changing healthcare environment, there is a need for sharp, analytical business people to support our care-giving community. More and more of what we do will be determined by data and how we interpret and utilize it.

Jeffrey Freimark, president and CEO, Miami Jewish Health Systems


Internships go a long way toward developing contacts that often lead to a student’s first job. Internships also help bolster one’s résumé in a world where you often can’t get a job because you lack experience, but nobody wants to give you a chance at obtaining that experience. College students should engage their professors and school counselors to help them land those important internships in the local business community.

James Haj, president and CEO, The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County


First of all, they will not become the CEO the day after graduation. It will take progressive realization of a worthy goal they persist in achieving. However, there are many avenues to learn and explore. At NSU, we offer internships, clinical rotations and other experiential opportunities. Students need to become part of the South Florida business community before they graduate. If you begin to actively cultivate your network and seek out hands-on experience post-graduation, that’s too late — the time to start is now, and you’re the person who can advance your own career. And of course, I always encourage students — and anyone else — looking to advance their education or career to come to NSU and experience first-hand our commitment to experiential learning and outcome-driven education.

George Hanbury, president and CEO, Nova Southeastern University


Minimize the number of online courses. Go to a classroom and interact with other students. Interact with professors, administrators and other individuals who have forgotten more than you will ever know. Stop taking out loans that will burden you financially for decades. Embark on a course of study and a career that you have a genuine passion for.

Bob Hohenstein, president and CEO, Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition


South Florida is a gateway to the world. Many start-up companies, Fortune 500 and international companies have offices here, making it a great place for college graduates to jump-start their careers. We find that the best entry-level candidates have been those who dedicated a large amount of time in acquiring hands-on experience during their college years. There are also many great networking opportunities for young professionals to get involved in the community and share ideas.

Arden Karson, senior managing director, CBRE


Whatever industry each student is planning to be part of, my best advice is to do research and look for companies that are well established and have career growth opportunities. Once you narrow down the companies, start at any entry level position, even if it’s not related to your field of study. Prove yourself through great work ethics, do the best you can within that job, and show your employer that you are always seeking to expand your knowledge through continuous education.

Juan Carlos Marchan, COO, Centurion Restaurant Group


Build relationships, hone your communications skills, take the time to learn and work hard, stay focused and be humble. Natural leaders know what their assets are — what they’re good at and where they need help. Don’t try to do something that's outside your skill set; instead, find mentors who can help you learn and become better.

David Martin, president and co-founder, Terra


The best way to become integrated in the business community is through networking with homegrown entrepreneurs and seeking out job opportunities and internships with independent businesses. Small companies offer a chance to learn skills that may not be accessible in a large corporate setting. There’s no substitute for on-the-job-training, and the contacts you make at your first job will pay dividends throughout your career, especially if you stay local. At Rickenbacker Marina, we hire part-time college students and interns who get training in accounting and bookkeeping, and we create opportunities for them to interface with clients and vendors as much as possible.

Aabad Melwani, president, Rickenbacker Marina and managing principal, Marina PARC


Get out of the campus bubble and connect with industry leaders, associations and events that are relevant to your field. Do an internship with a local firm, find a mentor, volunteer. Engaging in these activities will ensure that they've established a valuable network of contacts before needing to make the next step in their careers.

Kevin V. Michael, co-founder and managing partner, Invizio, LLC


Whenever I speak with a student, there are four main points — my words of wisdom — that I always discuss with them: 1. I encourage students to get involved and learn about our community, to understand the current economic climate and know what careers are in high demand. For example, we know in Broward County, teachers and nurses are critical to our community; 2. I suggest working with our career centers. Students can find hands-on opportunities to learn about internships aligned to their academic programs and even secure jobs with our partner companies; 3. I tell them to find a mentor, someone in their industry they can learn from and speak with. Why recreate the wheel when you can learn from another’s wisdom? 4. Most importantly, I urge our students to take advantage of meetings with their adviser to outline their academic and course map. This will help them make sure they take the right classes in the shortest amount of time so they can enter the workforce prepared and with the least amount of debt!

Avis Proctor, vice president of academic affairs and president, North Campus at Broward College


In the immortal words of Walter Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky’s father: “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Accordingly, I would encourage the next generation to explore growth industries like technology, healthcare, real estate development and construction.

Matthew Rieger, president and CEO, Housing Trust Group


Research what is happening down here, sectors that are growing, see the plans the county and municipalities are putting in place to stimulate new business and company relocation. We’re experiencing growth in so many unique sectors — from the arts and healthcare to technology and education — so students should prepare themselves with the skills relevant to those sectors. You don’t have to be a coder, but you can and should learn the basics of how digital works. And take languages seriously; bi- and trilingual candidates are always preferred.

Jackie Soffer, co-chairman and CEO, Turnberry Associates


Don’t be afraid or feel above doing the grunt work. It’s important to learn processes for yourself and find solutions without depending on someone else. The knowledge gained from rolling up your sleeves is invaluable for young people.

Ivannia Van Arman, executive director, Lincoln Road Business Improvement District


The Miami Herald CEO Roundtable is a weekly feature that appears in Business Monday of the Miami Herald. Recent questions have included:

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▪ CEOs assess South Florida’s economy for 2017

▪ Did Obamacare hurt your business? South Florida CEOs respond