KU Mentoring is just a platform to help students get jobs, right? Wrong.
Not only do students have access to an expansive network of alumni, alumni also have access to each other. Joel Balzer, c’09, took advantage of this opportunity to harness the power of the Jayhawk network.
Balzer is a development officer for major gifts at KU Endowment and works primarily with the School of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Business.
What exactly does that mean? “It’s really about having a conversation with a person and finding out what they’re passionate about, or what their family is passionate about,” Balzer says. “And if it happens to be in the realm of supporting KU philanthropically, then I facilitate that.”
Balzer says KU Mentoring was instrumental in helping him secure his new role. “Obviously I had my own initiative to want to work for KU Endowment, but I wouldn’t have been able to get there without the help of other Jayhawks,” he says.
Balzer has attended several networking events throughout his career, but it was often difficult to identify who else in the room was a Jayhawk. With KU Mentoring, Balzer didn’t have to guess, nor did he struggle to make a connection.
“I’ve never encountered a group that was so willing to help someone that they really didn’t know,” he says. “And to use a platform like KU Mentoring, that just opened up the sector for me even wider because it was an easier way to connect with people.”
There’s never a bad time to start making connections. Whether it’s today, tomorrow, or years from now, Jayhawks help Jayhawks. Balzer believes these connections help get you where you want to go, but explains there’s more to it.
“Continue to reach out to people because the connections that you make are so imperative towards your future career, or your current career,” he says. “I truly believe that it’s the people that you know are going to get you in to the places that you want to get, and everything that makes up yourself is going to be the reason why they keep you.”
Whether you’re looking to move jobs, change careers, gain industry insights, or simply ask for advice, it’s all at your fingertips with KU Mentoring.
Are you in a position to give your time? Sign up for KU Mentoring! The Jayhawk Career Network provides a central hub to coordinate career connections and networking opportunities for students and alumni at every life stage. Services include KU Mentoring, a job board, informational articles and more. For more information about the Jayhawk Career Network, contact Kristi Laclé, assistant vice president for the Jayhawk Career Network, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Jayhawk Career Network offers KU alumni the opportunity to give back with both their time and expertise— and alumni are stepping up to the plate.
Jason Booker serves as the senior director of corporate partnerships and broadcast sales for the Kansas City Royals. His sport management degree from KU pitched him into a sports marketing career that’s going 20 years strong.
Booker, d’00, currently serves on the board of the Greater Kansas City Network for the KU Alumni Association, as well as the Kansas City Sports Commission Board of Directors. Jason and his wife Susan, d’99, live in Olathe, Kansas with their daughter Ava.
We recently met up with Booker to learn how his Jayhawk experience has kept him from striking out in the corporate world.
What made you choose a sport management degree?
I knew I wanted to go into sport management, so the program really led me to KU. What really sold me on my visit was this great sense of tradition and the feeling that I was joining a university that cared about the success of their students.
What’s your favorite memory on the Hill?
My favorite KU memory was interning in the athletic department, especially getting the chance to be a part of the 100 years of basketball celebration where I had the opportunity to meet Wilt Chamberlain and Dean Smith.
Why are you a proud member of the KU Alumni Association?
I love staying connected to students through the KU Mentoring platform, and I get to meet new Jayhawks through the various networking events that we host in KC. I had so many people help me on my career path, so it is important for me to stay connected and try to give back.
Why should Jayhawks join the Alumni Association?
The best part of being a member is that it keeps me informed of everything that is going on with KU through all of the digital and social correspondence and Kansas Alumni magazine.
There is a great opportunity to connect with Jayhawks you’ve never met through KU Mentoring and the many KU Alumni events. Being a member also gives you the ability to give back through volunteer opportunities in your local communities.
What is your favorite part of serving on the Greater KC Alumni Board?
I love making an impact in Kansas City through our KU Cares volunteer efforts and the mentoring platform. I also enjoy being involved with Rock Chalk Ball to help raise money for all of the great programs that KU Alumni holds throughout the year.
The Jayhawk Career Network provides a central hub to coordinate career connections and networking opportunities for students and alumni at every life stage. KU Mentoring is part of the Jayhawk Career Network and provides a mentor matching program for students and alumni to create connections as well as provide professional insight and opportunities. The Jayhawk Career Network is open to all KU alumni and students.
The KU School of Journalism and Mass Communications invited alumni back to its Home on the Hill for J-School Generations, a two-day homecoming event.
One of the highlights was J-Talk, a TED-talk style event featuring alumni sharing stories of lessons they’ve learned through their careers.
Carlos P. Beltran, c’09, j’09, discussed his experiences as a digital content producer, both as a freelancer and for NBC Left Field, a documentary unit that profiles human-interest stories such as a KU alumnus’ classroom museum.
We sat down with Beltran to ask him more about his time at KU and his advice on choosing what to do after graduation.
When did you know what you wanted to do your career?
Ever since I was a child running around with a camera I knew I wanted to do something with video. It wasn’t until my second year at KU that I switched to journalism and decided to do it for a living.
As for what kind of video, it wasn’t until 2013, when I finished a fiction project that took two years of my life and it didn’t pan out the way I wanted. I decided I didn’t need fancy equipment and huge crews. I knew that with a camera, a microphone, a great subject, and my editing skills, I could make good work, and I dedicated myself to documentary filmmaking.
How did you get involved with such a cool production like NBC Left Field?
The unit opened a year and a half ago in Brooklyn, and after freelancing in Venezuela for a couple years I was looking for somewhere to settle down. My good friend Mariana Keller, who works at NBC News Digital told me about the opening, and after sitting down with the leader of the unit they liked my work enough to bring me on.
How did your time at KU help you get to where you are now?
I learned everything from ethics, to how to approach networks with my work, the basics of narrative and storytelling, and of course editing over at Dole, spending days editing on Final Cut Pro 7 in the media labs. Here you’ll learn how to be a great journalist, out there, you practice being one. Once you leave, don’t think you’ll get the perfect job right off the bat. You’ll go through times where you’ll discover what you don’t like to do. It might take years, it took me from graduation in 2009 to 2013 when I realized what I really wanted to do.
What advice do you have for those starting out in their careers?
When I graduated from school, I thought I wanted to work at an ad agency, or work in video, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I immediately thought I maybe should go get my masters, but I never did. Someone told me “if you want to be a documentary filmmaker, go make documentaries.” Go make one, and then you’ll have a business card. If you want to work in this industry, don’t wait until someone commissions you. If you find an amazing character, then shoot the story. That two minute video that you produced independently shows your skills and that you’re passionate about your work. Go shoot something, make yourself a portfolio.