On Wednesday, March 6, eager (but a bit uneasy) students from Cypress High School and Oxford Academy filled empty seats around tables already manned by keen (but a bit hungry) business mentors in the biggest meeting room at the Cypress Community Center.
Organized by the Cypress Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the two schools, the student business-mentor breakfast has for decades provided an opportunity to students to meet and talk with business mentors in a field that interests each student: medicine, law enforcement, insurance, government, education, journalism, engineering…
Helping with the event were Forest Lawn – Cypress, which provided floral arrangements, and McDonald’s of Cypress, which provided breakfast. Crystal Geyser provided bottled water. Cypress College provided folders and notepaper. Kinetic Mortgage helped organize. Sponsorship support also came from Lt. Col. (ret) Leroy Mills and Anna Piercy, a member of the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Trustees.
Cypress Mayor Stacy Berry led the Pledge of Allegiance. Mandi Ortiz, who works at her family’s business Subs n Grub, told about her own experience at a prior student business-mentor breakfast before introducing the keynote speaker, Dr. Jeff Barke.
At my table, five students were mentored by two Chamber members, myself and Colleen Janssen. We answered questions about what to major in at college, how to break into writing, and good groups to join. Because of our personal backgrounds, we also provided some historical perspective on computers and information technology. We both strongly supported internships. (Note: Orange County Breeze is happy to consider articles submitted by student writers for publication.) After working for some time successfully writing articles for local newspapers, Ms. Janssen is now most of the way through the first draft of a novel. She recommended that students interested in writing as a career should consider joining the California Writers Club.
Engineering was the focus at a neighboring table, with the father-son duo of James Wiedel and Chris Wiedel presenting information on engineering and games programming. One important point brought up by Chris Wiedel was that programmers could give themselves a leg up in the job market on graduation if they have a completed project that can be shown to prospective employers. For example, he had coded a circus-themed game based on an open-source game engine that demonstrated his knowledge not only of game design and coding but also of making good use of open-source software.
Changes at the Chamber
In 2018, the Board of Directors of the Cypress Chamber of Commerce began grappling with changes in local business conditions that called for complementary changes in structure and procedures at the Chamber.
One of the most visible changes was the release of paid staff that no longer met the Chamber’s business requirements. The Chamber is now run by member-volunteers who have stepped up to take on administrative and operational duties as requested by the Board.
In another highly visible change, the Chamber offices moved to the ground floor of the Business Building (Room #101) on the campus of Cypress College. A long-standing supporter of the Chamber, Cypress College partners in events such as the Cypress Festival Mixer and local-candidate debates.
The City of Cypress and its business development department also work with the Chamber by providing venues for events such as the student business-mentor breakfast and referring new businesses to the Chamber.
A series of monthly evening business mixers has been reinvigorated. Comerica Bank and Bowman Real Estate hosted the two most recent mixers, both quite successful.
The Chamber’s fiscal year has been realigned to match the calendar year. Board elections have been similarly realigned.
Continuity at the Chamber
Continuity provides a firm foundation supporting needed changes.
The Chamber’s monthly networking breakfasts continue on the second Tuesday of each month at the Residence Inn by Marriott, 4931 Katella Ave. This month’s speaker will be Evelyn Sandovala tax analyst with H&R Block and a professor of accounting at Cypress College. She will speak on “How the 2019 tax laws effect you and your business.”
Sign up to attend the breakfast at the Chamber website.
The next big event for the Chamber is its annual Corporate Challenge Golf Tournament, to be held on May 8 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Navy Golf Course.
Membership in the Cypress Chamber provides frequent opportunities to meet not only with members of the business community but also with City staff and elected officials. You can join the Chamber by calling 714-484-6015 or through the Chamber website at www.cypresschamber.org.
Note: The description of the speaker at the March networking breakfast has been updated since this article was originally published.