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Staff Spotlight: Linda Esquivel

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Originally published November 20, 2016. Updated November 15, 2020.

Linda Esquivel joins the department as an experienced student advocate, having previously worked as an undergraduate advisor for the Stanford Art and Art History Department and as a career/technology instructor for the San Jose Job Corps.

She has a degree in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Master's in Counselor's Education from San Jose State University.

How do we connect?

That’s the question the Department of Management Science and Engineering (MS&E) has increasingly heard from students, companies and alumni seeking to interact with each other for career opportunities, networking, and professional development. In response, the MS&E department created a staff position to facilitate this interaction and to help students prepare for their careers. Meet Linda Esquivel, MS&E’s career and affiliate services officer whose been with the department for over four years now.

In her role, she provides career guidance and job-hunting education for students, while also arranging an array of events between employers and prospective hires and facilitate alumni interaction with the department as well. She also manages the MS&E Career Collaborative Affiliate Program that works with companies that are looking to hire MS&E students for specific roles with their company and connect with the general MS&E community. 

Helping student navigate what is already available on campus

First, she discovered that many students weren’t aware of and taking advantage of helpful career programs already available at Stanford.

For instance, many students were not fully tapping into services offered by the Stanford BEAM (Bridging Education, Ambition and Meaningful Work) program, formerly known as the Career Development Center.  BEAM offers job-search training, career assessments, and resume labs that give instant feedback and editing assistance.  BEAM’s alumni database and Handshake platform are also useful aids. Esquivel hopes to serve as a bridge between BEAM and the department to improve awareness and collaborate on workshops that are specific to MS&E student needs.

To highlight various available resources and provide MS&E students and employers one-stop shopping, she created the new MS&E Careers and Partners Services website, a portal for MS&E-related job and internship listings, profiles of recent alumni, and links to critical job-search resources for students, alumni and employers. Esquivel hopes this site will build awareness not just among students but also among MS&E alumni and employers seeking candidates with strong management science skills.

“Where do I go from here?”

pie chart of career paths
MS&E career paths of 2016 graduates

Esquivel also found that students want more information about what careers they might excel in and more connections to alumni and employers in those specific career tracks.

“MS&E students go into a broad range of careers. We have a pie chart on the website that illustrates this diversity, showing the career paths of 2016 graduates. I have also customized workshops and events to students' specific areas of interest as it relates to the departments areas of concentration," said Esquivel.

To this end, she began creating small-scale events, each with a specific topic. Recently, for example, she arranged a lunch with a small group of students to discuss product management with an MS&E alum in the field. According to Esquivel, "This roundtable conversation had a meaningful impact on the students in attendance. They were extremely focused and asked excellent questions. The alumnus was also happy to participate and share their expertise with our MS&E community."

Job-seeking international students have unique needs

linda esquivel presenting

Another key finding from the survey came from MS&E’s international students, who make up roughly half of the master’s students. Esquivel learned that this population has different concerns. They need special programming to understand U.S. hiring culture, the work visa process, and how to make contact with employers from abroad. 

Esquivel has arranged a number of career-related events to assist international students with these issues- MS&E Alumni International Panel, Job Hunting in the U.S. (workshop), and international alums specifically give talks about their current career track and how they got there as an international student and prospective hire.

Trends in job hunting

Requisite job hunting skills have changed dramatically for students. “Twenty years ago,” Esquivel said, “It would go like this: I apply through the career center. Someone calls me. I have an interview on campus. Maybe I then have a second interview at the company’s offices and, if lucky, get the job.” That is not the way things work anymore, and to complicate the job search, you throw a global pandemic on top of it. Students will most certainly have a more difficult time nailing down their dream job, but that doesn’t mean they will not find a position of employment once they graduate. It comes down to their creativity and adaptability, in addition to staying optimistic and realistic during their job search. Understanding that things are difficult but still manageable and, in the long run, will make them a stronger and resilient individual, both on a personal and professional level.”

Esquivel tells students that now they must be more proactive and leverage relationships. Activities might include informational interviews with MS&E alums; making connections through other relationships they have; becoming active on LinkedIn and industry-specific social networking sites; and participating in professional organizations and events.

Realizing that many students don’t feel confident or equipped to pursue these strategies, Esquivel plans to roll out a variety of workshops and events to build these skills and take some of the guesswork out of their job hunts.

“What I love about this department is that our academic programs do an excellent job of preparing students to make tremendous contributions professionally,” she said. “All I have to do is help them find the right fit and connect great students to great alumni and potential employers.”

Career services shifts to working remote and servicing students during COVID-19

As the career and affiliate services officer, it's her job to be forward-facing. Before COVID, Esquivel planned multiple in-person career-related events (workshops, professional mixers, industry-specific talks, panel sessions, etc.). She stated that she loved meeting in person with students, alumni, and employers to build community within the department. Esquivel enjoyed that part of her job tremendously, especially the personal interaction. So, she had to ask herself, "how do I replicate this environment in a virtual world? How do I engage and interact with students, alumni, and employers personally and professionally?"

Luckily, MS&E has been significantly ahead of the curve regarding the 'digital workplace' and the 'future of work.' Several faculty members are experts in this field, and Esquivel states that it's exciting to hear them speak about the 'future of work,' either during a lecture or on a podcast.  She took their knowledge and expertise to heart and applied it to her virtual position. Adapting and pivoting where needed, hosting all of the department's career-related events online, mostly on Zoom.

Esquivel says, "It's definitely been an adjustment, but it's also been an opportunity to grow and learn. It has breathed new life into my position, although I must confess that I miss the in-person interaction with our students, faculty, and staff, as well as the 10-minute walk breaks around our beautiful Stanford campus. But I do enjoy meeting with our students virtually and checking in with them about where they are located now, how they are handling COVID, and the job/internship search." The most important message Esquivel keeps repeating to her students is, "you will overcome this, and it will make you a stronger and more resilient human being and professional; the sky is the limit."

Written by Rachel Street. Edited by Jim Fabry and Susanne Chin.

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