The MBA Hub
Many students who go back to school to earn their MBA are intent on making a specific career change. And some students, like 2012 MBA alum, Jason Kallingal, enter the program unsure of which industries or job positions they want to pursue. In Jason's case, he started the program simply knowing that he wanted to try something different — and have a significant impact on his community.
Before coming to PSU to pursue his MBA, Jason owned and managed Paccini's, an on-campus restaurant. As successful as the venture was, though, he knew he would ultimately outgrow his restaurant. So he decided to join the part-time MBA program to explore his options.
As Jason completed his studies, he participated in interviews for jobs in industries ranging from consulting to management, and subsequently accepted the position of Economic Development Manager with ROSE Community Development, a Portland-area nonprofit.
ROSE stands for Revitalizing Outer South East, and the organization offers affordable housing in well-built and maintained units to low income families in the outer southeast neighborhoods of Lents, Brentwood-Darlington, Powellhurst-Gilbert, Foster-Powell and Mt. Scott-Arleta.
In March of 2012, ROSE was awarded a grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust (MMT) to enhance economic development programs in outer southeast Portland neighborhoods. With that grant, ROSE opened up the position Jason eventually interviewed for and accepted. Today, he is responsible for interfacing with the community and advising community members about all the services offered through ROSE.
Reflecting upon his MBA experience, Jason says leveraging Career Management Resources was probably the most valuable part of the program for him. “I found my job through PSU’s CareerForward and I did mock interviews that were recorded so I could see what I needed to improve on. When I was deciding which position to take after graduation, Jodi encouraged me to try something different so I took the position at ROSE.”
Currently, Jason is working on a few major community building and economic development initiatives:
- Lents REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust): In partnership with Mercy Corps NW, Jason is helping to recruit 300 residents in the Lents neighborhood to invest up to $50 a month in a commercial building. The building will then be rented out to a business. The Lents REIT is designed to help low-income residents build family assets when property values in their neighborhood rise.
- Marketing mentor program for low income youth: This mentorship program pairs young people with a volunteer marketing mentor from the local business community, helping to ease the transition from high school to work and providing marketing services to local businesses.
- Lents Town Center Urban Renewal: Jason works to spur revitalization in the Lents Town Center through business outreach and consulting.
Since Jason’s position was new to the organization, his first few months involved building a strategy from scratch and employing his entrepreneurial skills.
“The MBA program helped me to think strategically about problems and to recognize strengths in the community and in the organization,” says Jason. “It also taught me that problems in a project are not as bad as they seem.”
That positive attitude comes in handy when Jason faces challenges in his current job, especially the issue of gentrification.
“It’s the biggest challenge we’re facing,” he says. “It’s really difficult to revitalize a neighborhood and at the same time support low income families. For us, it’s about showing them the resources available for economic growth through small business ownership.”
Despite the challenges, Jason’s finds his position incredibly rewarding.
“The best part is working with young people,” he says. “They have so much potential, talents, skills and drive. It’s really special to help them through the difficult transitions.”
In his spare time, Jason is training for the Eugene Half Marathon. Click here to support him!
By Mallory Miller: Mallory has experience in marketing, management and sales. She plans to apply her experience, interests, and skills to a career in product marketing and business development. She will graduate from the Portland State full time MBA program in June 2013. You can connect with Mallory on LinkedIn.