Making the Most of Your College Years; Q&A with Brian Moaddeli

Brian Moaddeli is the current Vice President for Northern and Southern California branches of College Works Painting, an entrepreneurial management internship program for college students, but got his start in the business world when he founded a successful internet company at the young age of 14. While studying at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Brian started another company, Champaign Real Estate. The California branch of College Works Painting has flourished under Brain’s leadership, experiencing nearly 100% annual growth consistently over the last 5 years. A professional highlight for Brian has been the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of the Entrepreneur’s Organization in San Diego, representing more than $551 million in annual sales. Brian Moaddeli provides his perspective to college students interested in reaching their potential in college and prepare themselves for success beyond graduation.

What Clubs and Activities Should I Join While in College?

Networking with like-minded students and faculty is an important part of the University experience, and joining extracurricular activities is a great way to do this. Most schools offer lots of options to choose from—sometimes making it difficult to decide what to choose. Personally, I think that the role you take within the group is more important than the type of club it is; don’t just be a passive member, become the club president, treasurer, or head of marketing. Down the road, graduate schools and employers will know that the majority of students join on-campus activities, but it takes someone with initiative to become the leader of a group, or to start their own. Rise to the top of the pack taking responsibility as a leader of whatever interest you’re passionate about.

I want to work for a certain company, but they’re not hiring summer jobs. What should I do?

If you are passionate and want to work for a very specific company, say a sports franchise, your best bet is to intern for them while you’re in school. That way, once you graduate and are ready to work full time, you’ll already have contacts and work experience there. If they’re not hiring at the moment, be persistent and willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means working for free. Prove that you’re someone who should get paid. If you can manage it, the experience you gain will pay off.

Shouldn’t I focus on education while in school and working once I graduate?

I’ve seen a lot of students buy into the misconception that the degree they’re earning is what is going to get them a job after graduation. They think that in an interview they’ll be able to sell their abilities based on their degree and their lofty aspirations—being ‘highly motivated,’ with a ‘great work ethic and drive.’ These are great qualities to have, but these points alone won’t effectively set candidates apart from the thousands of others who are competing for the same positions, especially in today’s economy. Employers are more inclined to think, ‘If they haven’t done it by the time they’re a senior, what’s to say they’re going to do it post-grad?’ That is why it’s important to develop yourself into a well-rounded individual before jumping into the job market after college.

How do I choose the best grad school program? Does getting into a ‘big name’ school really matter?

Choosing a grad school depends entirely on what you seek to gain from the degree. You can get an MBA from a top ranked university or a little-known online college, and the degree will be the same but the experience will be completely different. That being said, the quality of your post grad experience is heavily dependent on who you are as a person and the effort you put into it. Just make sure that when deciding on a post graduate degree and program, you are doing it for reasons that are beneficial to you, and not just because you’ve been told it’s “the right thing to do.” Take ownership, do research, and define your own path to success.