What do ice cream, microloans, virtual reality and marketing strategies have in common? They drive St. Edward’s University alumni to innovate and collaborate every day in their Austin-based careers. When The Bill Munday School of Business invited successful alumni back to campus to share their professional insight, what emerged was the value of mentorship between graduates and students (along with a few funny anecdotes and warm college memories).

“Our alumni dedicate themselves to making a difference in their companies and communities,” says Nancy Schreiber, dean of The Bill Munday School of Business. “The relationships made and networks created when alumni and students connect are invaluable to their career paths.”

Here is a roundup of insights from alumni and students across disciplines.

Aaron Clay, Theater Arts ’04

Where is he now? Marketing Director of Amy’s Ice Creams and Co-founder of Amy’s EDU, the related consulting business. Clay educates his clients about open-book management, public speaking and customer service — key qualities in Amy’s Ice Creams’ culture.

Lesson learned? You can “parlay an arts major into a business career,” Clay says. He would know — his Theater Arts degree has continued to help him communicate in the professional setting and teach public speaking courses at Amy’s EDU.

Erika Ortiz, Finance ’16

Where is she now? UX Researcher at JUST Community LLC, an organization that provides financial and community support to low-income entrepreneurs.

Lesson learned? Ortiz started her job search focusing on financial advising positions because of the higher earnings potential, but she kept returning to a non-profit posting that called applicants to “change the world,” she said. She applied, got the job and loves positively impacting her community. As a new graduate, it’s important to balance the need to earn a paycheck and the calling to make a difference through your work.

Brandon Gredler, Business Administration ’03 and DMBA ’11

Where is he now? Director of Innovation at T3, where he helps clients leverage emerging platforms (think VR and AI) to more effectively align their business goals with customer experiences.

Lesson learned? Some people are told to follow their passion, but Gredler suggests that you also consider “following your contribution.” If you’re drawn to the music industry, being a musician or producer aren’t the only ways in. Contributing your talents at a music-related company in legal, HR or finance all deliver on supporting the art you love, while capitalizing on your education.

Matt Wolski, Bioinformatics ’13

Where is he now? Owner/Founder of Found Media Group, where he focuses on growing his business through client acquisition.

Lesson learned? A broad skill set — including knowledge of Adobe software like InDesign and Photoshop, the ability to write copy and basic knowledge of working with a camera — is something he looks for in applicants who have applied to his jobs. “Small companies hire people who can do more than one type of thing,” he says.

Tanya Chacon, Marketing ’19

Where is she now? A senior who is currently interning for a startup PR firm, Chacon is interested in working for an advertising or marketing agency that focuses on entertainment media. “With all the resources that St. Edward’s has available, I’m taking advantage and learning new skills for my future career,” she says.

Best advice received? Having the “perfect internship” is not necessarily the only way to acquire a job after graduation. Rather, the goal is to get a broad set of experiences and build on each one. “This will help you stand out and make you more versatile for employers,” she says.

Gilbert Rios, MBA ’19

Where is he now? Rios is a first-year MBA student with an interest in digital media management. His goal is to share the business practices he is learning at St. Edward’s with professionals who may not otherwise have access to it in South Texas, his home.

Best advice received? Roll with the punches and take risks. “It really stuck with me because, for most of my life, I’ve been pretty risk averse until I moved to Austin. This advice really lifted my spirit up,” he says.

Josephine Kong, International Business ’21

Where is she now? A freshman who is preparing to find her first summer internship, Kong is zeroing in on her interest in the business field — management at a tech- or food-related company is one area of particular interest.

Best advice received? In a world with evolving technology, students and job seekers alike can embrace change to be successful. “It is important to be flexible and be able to navigate and adapt to different environments,” she says.