Jump-starting a career with Willamette networks

by Jennifer Johnson ,

  • José Fausto ’18

José Fausto ’18 lands job prospects through connections and a scholarship.

The power of Willamette connections and support changed José Fausto’s career path.

When the international studies major arrived at Willamette in 2014, he was uncertain about his future. But by his senior year, he’d gained enough skills and confidence to land a digital marketing internship with vacation rental website Tripping.com in San Francisco. A Willamette scholarship fund that supports internships provided the financial assistance Fausto needed to be able to accept the opportunity.

Now, as he’s about to graduate, Fausto wants to continue to work for Tripping.com and other companies.

“You’re always told networking is so important,” he says. “It was really the connections from Willamette that got me that job.”

Connecting across campus

Last spring, Willamette’s alumni office put Fausto in touch with Colin Gardiner ’09, the vice president of product and analytics at Tripping.com. Gardiner offered a summer internship in search engine optimization, which Fausto excitedly accepted — despite the five-hour daily commute from his hometown of Manteca, California, to the office in San Francisco. A Willamette internship fund named after Catherine D. Lutz, a 30-year veteran of the university’s career services office, helped offset the costs.

The internship delivered in ways that Fausto didn’t expect. After a major investor held a fireside chat, Fausto offered to go out for coffee with him — and they did. The investor and the head of the company were so impressed by Fausto's confidence and initiative, the company offered Fausto contract work before the summer ended.

Fausto made other valuable connections, including Allon Freiman ’10, CEO of Seattle-based pet technology company Petriage, who also offered him contract work.

The skills that Fausto acquired at Willamette through several on-campus jobs served him well during his internship. He was a residence hall representative for first-year student hall WISH House, a co-founder of the Residence Hall Association — later its director of marketing — and an office assistant for the College of Law admissions office.

He credits these roles with making him feel comfortable taking a marketing approach to his contract work and providing great customer service.

Getting off to a good start

Even before he started his first semester, Fausto took advantage of a Willamette program to help make his college experience successful. Through the five-day Jump Start initiative in August, he participated in Ohana, a program that connects students from multicultural backgrounds.

Fausto, a first-generation college student who was born in Mexico, gained support from students experiencing similar first-day jitters. He didn’t know what to expect from college, and Ohana helped calm his nerves and provide friendships so he never felt alone.

Catherine D. Lutz encouraged students to work to stand out to employers, and Fausto says Willamette helped him do just that — he learned to be a critical thinker and carefully analyze information.

Eventually, Fausto hopes to become a CEO of an international company. Grateful to the university for helping him take the first steps toward that dream, he says, “Attending Willamette is the best decision I’ve ever made.”

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