How CSUN Students Used Their Summer Break to Prep for the Future

  • Graduate student Alitzel Villanueva attaches a temperature sensor to a line in the waters off Catalina Island. Photo courtesy of Alitzel Villanueva.

  • Michael in the stands taking a photo with his phone, with the baseball diamond in the background.

    Smile! Student Assistant Michael Gonzalez works the crowd for social media posts at CSUN Night at Dodger Stadium, Sept. 2, 2023. Photo by Sonia Gurrola.

  • Gessele stands in front of large sign that says

    Publicity intern Gessele Malubag at Hallmark Media. Photo courtesy of Gessele Malubag.

So how did you spend your summer? We checked in with three hardworking Matadors to find out just that. Master’s candidate Alitzel Villanueva spent her summer scuba diving near Catalina, researching the effects of warming water on kelp growth. Gessele Malubag got an up-close and personal view of the movie business, working as a publicity intern for Hallmark Media. Michael Gonzalez spent the summer (and is continuing this fall) creating social media content for CSUN’s Department of Strategic Communication and Brand Management.

Hands-on, experiential learning is a pillar of the CSUN undergraduate and graduate experience. The students said their faculty advisors and clubs encouraged and helped them apply for and prepare for these summer projects and internships, connecting classroom learning with field and “real-world” work.

CSUN Today asked these students to share a bit about their summer spent building up knowledge — and their resumes.

Alitzel Villanueva (master’s candidate, Biology)

Student in full scuba diving gear smiles at the camera.

Master’s Candidate Alitzel Villanueva. Photo courtesy of Alitzel Villanueva.

Alitzel Villanueva is studying temperature dynamics in the ocean and the effect on kelp beds near Catalina Island. She spent her summer working with a dive buddy, placing sensors in the ocean at different depths to measure temperatures. Over the course of the year, she will document the cycle of kelp die-off and re-growth. Villanueva also counted fish and other marine life within the kelp forests and will track to see if their numbers change over time.

Tell us about your job/research.

“The majority of the summer, I spent doing kelp surveys. Basically, you go along this transect and then just count the kelp stipes, which are similar to stems for plants. [I was looking for] how many kelp stipes [are located] at a certain depth. [I was trying to get a better idea of] how many plants we saw at the bottom and [how they look] at the top. Are they all reaching the top? It was a ton of diving. I spent from May to August out at Catalina. I came back for a couple of weekends here and there.”

What was your favorite part?

“It was stressful and hard and exhausting, truly exhausting, but being in a place that is so beautiful and having our work be out in these kelp forests … It’s like swimming through an aquarium sometimes.”

What surprised you?

“What was most unexpected was how intense field work is, in terms of safety and thinking about that you’re responsible for other people’s lives — and you have to be thinking about that when you’re in the field. I’m glad I took a year to get really comfortable diving, to get comfortable boating.”

Gessele Malubag (Journalism, Public Relations)

Gessele stands in front of large sign that says "Hallmark Media"

Publicity intern Gessele Malubag at Hallmark Media. Photo courtesy of Gessele Malubag.

Tell us about your job. What was a “typical day” like?

“I was a publicity intern at Hallmark Media this summer. One of the tasks of the job was pulling clips from Hallmark Channel’s movies and TV shows. Pulling clips is when you take short clips from films or TV show episodes and use them as sneak peeks for the viewers. They usually get posted on Hallmark Channel’s social media platforms, cable channel or the website.

[I also] pitched angles and researched media outlets. Pitching angles is when you come up with creative ideas for stories that relate to the film or TV show, and pitch them to specific media outlets. There was no typical day, as the tasks differed from day to day.”

What was your favorite part of the job?

“My favorite part of the job was getting hands-on experience in public relations. I was able to apply skills and practices from school, such as learning how to write press releases, creating press lists and of course, learning AP Style.”

What did you learn on the job?

“Something I learned was how publicity/public relations closely intertwine with other departments like talent relations and events, marketing and corporate communications.”

What surprised you?

“What surprised me about this job was seeing how fast-paced it is to work in public relations in the entertainment industry. Not only were there many deadlines, but there were many meetings to attend. With numerous meetings and many tasks to complete, the work days flew by!”

Michael Gonzalez (Journalism, Public Relations)

Tell us about your job. What’s a “typical day” like?

“The tasks that I do at the Strategic Communication and Brand Management department at CSUN are to create content for the main social media pages @csun_edu.

Michael in the stands taking a photo with his phone, with the baseball diamond in the background.

Michael Gonzalez documents CSUN Night at Dodger Stadium. Photo by Sonia Gurrola.

A ‘typical day’ doesn’t really exist for us, as sometimes we have a variety of events to cover, such as Matador Movie Fest, Big Lecture and Big Show — just to name a few. If there was a typical day, I would say going over our comment section on Instagram and TikTok to see what our community is saying, and responding to their messages.

This summer, we mainly focused on our back-to-school campaign, which I thought was neat as I didn’t get this when I was transitioning into CSUN my first year [due to the pandemic].”

What is your favorite part of the job? 

“My favorite part about the job is coming onto campus and engaging with our students. It’s always great to see them smile and interact with us for our social media pages.

A favorite moment on the job was creating our back-to-school promo videos. Going outside with the team and being joined by other students was nice to see, especially as we got ready to welcome back our Matadors.”

What have you learned so far?

Something that I learned this summer was the strategic ways social media helps the campus become recognized. Although summer was quiet on campus, the social media team and I were able to plan out what we wanted our fellow students to know [about] what campus has to offer them, plan our back-to-school campaign, and utilize new platforms to help the university be seen (for example, implementing the new Threads platform.)”

What has surprised you?

“What surprised me in this job is the impact that we have as a social media page. Receiving positive feedback from our students, saying that we are doing well with running the social media page, gave me more insight on why we do the work that we do. It’s not just work, it’s a way we share our information for our students.”

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