SDSU Graduate Degree Leads Alumnus into a Successful Career Pivot

November 21, 2023

Liam Staninger
When Liam Staninger earned his bachelor’s degree in 2020, he chose to pursue a full-time position as a litigation paralegal, but he soon understood his new career wasn’t the right fit for his personality.

“My experience in the legal profession taught me that what I was really seeking was a role that involved client interaction, competitiveness and high autonomy,” said Staninger. “I realized that a career in sales would offer the characteristics that fulfilled me, more than a title or any perceived prestige.”

Staninger decided the best way to change his career trajectory was by returning to school to get his master’s degree in a sales-related field. 

“My prior work experience and education was all related to the legal field,” said Staninger. “I needed to find a degree program that allowed me to gain business acumen, pivot my career path, and further expand my knowledge of international business, which is a personal interest of mine.” 

After doing an online search, Staninger found information about the Master of Science in Global Business Development degree (MSGBD) offered by the Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University. Once he learned about the requisite consulting projects and spoke with the program’s faculty advisor, Martina Musteen, he knew it was the right path for him to pursue. He started classes in August 2022. 

The one-year MSGBD degree program offers students the unique opportunity to participate in work scenarios within three international organizations, and a summer-long capstone project where students travel abroad to interact with senior management in a global corporation on a real-world consulting project. 

“Providing students with the ability to work on a business solution with executives in an international company allows them to have a better understanding of the skills they will need to succeed in a global business development role,” noted Musteen. “Students are able to see the actual outcomes of their decisions and it gives them  the hands-on experience and sensitivities that are prized by hiring managers.”

It was these skills Staninger took with him when he met with global telecommunications giant Cox Communications at an SDSU-hosted job fair that ultimately led to a paid summer internship, where he got to put those skills to the test. 

“I took both soft skills and hard skills that I learned from the MSGBD program and applied them to my role as a business sales intern,” Staninger explained. “The soft skills I gained enhanced my ability to successfully interact with clients, network within the company and interface with my team. The hard skills taught me how to use data analytics, sales and marketing strategy, and marketing research which are useful in targeting accounts and helping clients create solutions for specific business needs.” 

Staninger proved so adept at his role during his internship that he was offered a full-time position at Cox as a client relationship executive upon his graduation from SDSU in August 2023, making his transition into the world of business development complete. 

For those students either undertaking or considering SDSU’s MSGBD degree program, Staninger offers this advice:

“Take full advantage of the projects and the capstone experience to interact with the client as much as possible,” he said. “The ability to successfully interact with the client is essential to sales, consulting and entrepreneurship and offers students the potential to hone interpersonal skills and gain comfort in having business conversations while you’re still in a learning environment.”

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