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Monday, May 23, 2022

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Zac Solomon Zac Solomon

Networking and an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Recent graduate Zac Solomon recalls how experiential learning opportunities at SDSU led him to a career.
By Fowler College of Business News Team

Zac Solomon (’20) always knew he wanted to attend San Diego State University, and his fascination with the intersection of business and technology led him to choose a major within the Fowler College of Business. During his time at SDSU, Zac made it a priority to get involved in student organizations and programs across campus. From the Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems Lab to the Digital Innovations Lab and the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, these experiential learning opportunities allowed him to gain valuable experience outside of the classroom.

As graduation day approached, Solomon reconnected with a leader from the software company ServiceNow who previously presented at his orientation. Networking with this rekindled connection organically led him to a new and unexpected career opportunity. 

Can you describe a little bit about yourself and how/when you decided to pursue Management Information Systems (MIS) as an area of study?

I was born here in San Diego and have lived here all my life. SDSU is the only school I really wanted to attend. I decided to pursue MIS as an area of study while attending Miramar College in 2018. I am passionate about technology that helps people live a more productive and enjoyable life. At that time, I would spend my Friday nights at SDSU with the SDSU Cyber Defense Team. Eventually, I came to realize I really wanted a career centered at the nexus of business and technology.

Describe the position you have recently begun after graduation?

At ServiceNow we have over 12,000 employees, with over 3,000 employees who work in the engineering department. My main role is to assist the head of engineering in making life better for our software engineers. I work to understand the needs, issues and work processes of these engineers, along with developing strategies and automation prototypes we will implement in order for us to improve the employee experience for our engineers as the company grows to meet the rapidly increasing future demand.

How did you get connected with this company and position?

I met my boss two years ago, during my first two months at SDSU. It was on September 5, 2018 at the MIS Orientation powered by ServiceNow that was held by the Fowler College of Business and SDSU Career Services. This year in February, I emailed her to see how she was doing. We ended up meeting at her office to catch up after the long break in seeing each other, and that became an impromptu interview. After that, I had two more interviews and then I was offered the position.

Are there specific skills you learned at SDSU (in class or otherwise) that helped you with the role’s qualifications? 

I learned how to think with a mixed business and technical mindset, which allows me to communicate well between both business and engineering personality types. This is a rare skill in the job market. I learned how to lead a team in MIS 481 (Web Development) and MIS 306 (Information System Analysis). I developed a product-focused entrepreneurial mindset during my time at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program.

What advice do you have for fellow students, regardless of their field, looking to jump start their career and land their first job post-graduation?

The biggest advice I can give you is to network, network and network. People don’t hire a GPA, they hire a person. Be more interesting than other people by actually using the resources on campus to explore and develop your passions to become a multi-faceted human being rather than only focusing in on your major. I think that’s especially relevant here at SDSU, since we’re known for having a great social life here on campus. I think that’s a big plus in helping us in knowing how to relate to other people. This becomes even more important further down the career path as we seek to become managers leading a team towards success.

What experience at SDSU has changed your life the most?

Being a part of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program, where I was able to interact with a mentor in my field every month, and also have dinner with successful entrepreneurs. This greatly expanded my perspective and I truly believe it shifted the trajectory of my life.

What is the best advice you have received during your time at SDSU?

The best advice I received during my time at SDSU was by one of my fellow students within the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program. He told me, “Get obsessed about a problem, then learn everything there is to know about it.” That’s what really helped me understand what a true entrepreneur is, and it even made me more valuable in my current role at ServiceNow.