Valeria Ramirez '12, Industrial Engineering

Valeria Ramirez

Commencement is a time to celebrate what can feel like the end of an education marathon, but for many graduates there is little time to savor the moment before the next race — the job hunt — begins.

In a competitive market, it’s not just success in the classroom or an internship that distinguishes the successful candidate. Just ask 2012 graduate Valeria Ramirez.

Ramirez credits the quick start to her career as an industrial engineer at King’s Hawaiian to her involvement and experience at Cal Poly Pomona, where she honed her confidence and leadership skills.

“Engineers have a reputation for not being the most personable or comfortable in group or team settings,” Ramirez says. “Being able to develop these skills was definitely a huge plus.”

Ramirez not only attended networking events as a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the Society of Hispanics in Science and Engineering, but also served as a BroncoStampede Ambassador. Her duties included speaking to high school students and visiting with alumni and friends of the university at events.

Striking up a conversation with a stranger was not always easy.

“I’m really shy at first,” Ramirez says. "After I interacted with more people with different personalities, I began to get better at carrying on conversations.”

Those communication skills were essential at King’s Hawaiian, where Ramirez led a team whose responsibilities included identifying ways to increase productivity and efficiency on the factory floor. In June, she accepted a position at Naked Juice with more of a management role.

Ramirez enjoys returning to campus to encourage prospective students to pursue higher education, and she understands the obstacles that some face.

She credits her success to her mentors: President Michael Ortiz and Janeth Rodriguez, the assistant director of alumni affairs.

“I don’t think I would have made it all the way through college without them,” Ramirez says.

She is paying her gratitude forward by sharing her experience with prospective students.

“It’s my way of letting them know that no matter how hard things are now or how much harder they will get, the work will pay off. The struggles and successes they have now will be rewarded in due time.”