January 27, 2023

The Power of Internships | Cathy Sandeen and Saleem Gilmore from CSUEB:  Episode 16 of Twist of Fate 

The Power of Internships|  Cathy Sandeen and Saleem Gilmore from CSUEB:  Episode 16 of Twist of Fate 

The latest episode of Twist of Fate was inspired by a partnership between 3STEPS4WARD and CSUEB. The small business is excited to offer up to 5 paid internships to students at Cal State majoring in select fields (including accounting, marketing, and  graphic design). 

Host Douglas Younger III, the CEO of 3STEPS4WARD sat down with Cathy Sandeen, the President of the University, and Saleem Gilmore, the Director of the EXCEL program, to talk more about the connection between the school, the community, and the spirit of entrepreneurship. They also talk about how internships have the ability to set a student’s entire life on a very different course. 

Silicon Valley and the Community 

When people think about the Silicon Valley economy, they usually think Google and Apple. What they can easily miss is the innovation from the small businesses in the community. More so than other cities, this is a ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ game. (The catch is that the economy is exceptionally competitive, and the financial costs to live in the area are astronomical.)The good news is that there are people in the Bay area who don’t operate strictly for profit. Companies like 3STEPS4WARD may need money to make payroll, but the ethos is more about how to help everyone get ahead — not just a select few. 

80% of the students at CSUEB are from the area, and when they graduate, they’re going to need skills to give them a leg up in the workforce. At Casol State, the entire curriculum is designed to give them tools to contribute not just to the economy, but to their larger community. If students are going to remain where they are, they’ll need to modernize their resumes. This all starts with having the right attitude and mentors who understand the challenges they face on a daily basis. 


Sandeen and Gilmore are both from the East Bay, and they’ve personally seen just how far support for students can go. Both of them have made a real commitment to giving students every possible advantage during their time at the school. Instead of giving students career coaching when they reach junior and senior year, they start when they’re freshmen. Instead of piecemeal services, it’s a 360° smorgasbord of everything from safety services to tutoring to financial aid. 

When most of CSUEB is made up of first-generation students, that kind of help doesn’t go unappreciated. The intern partnership between the two organizations sends a message to students: “Here’s another resource to capitalize on. Apply for an internship and see where it leads. If you get it, we’ll help you give it your all. If you don’t, we’ll help you find another path.”

What an Internship Can Do 

A quality internship doesn’t open the door to making coffee and running errands. It doesn’t mean hanging out at the office for a month and then disappearing forever. At the big-name corporations in Silicon Valley, it would be easy to get lost in the mix. (The sheer number of employees and  departments would be enough to bog down practically anyone.) Sandeen, Gilmore, and Younger all agreed that simply getting an internship doesn’t always mean success. It’s getting the right internship that matters. At 3STEPS4WARD, it’s a small team, one where interns can work with CEOs at multiple levels. Not only will they have the chance to engage with Doug, but they can also work with CEOs of companies who are out to change the world. 

All three individuals on the podcast are driven by a singular goal to make the Bay a little better to live, even if they have different ways of accomplishing this. They can unequivocally say that these kinds of early opportunities can reshape how students think about the world (and about themselves). 

What Entrepreneurship Can Do 

Sandeen and Gilmore didn’t always know the course their career would take. What they did know was that they wanted to be a part of academia, and this dedication was what led them up the ladder. The seeds of success are sewn with this kind of passion: it’s up to the individual to remain flexible enough to roll with it. 

Being an entrepreneur doesn’t always have to mean starting your own company. It can mean advancing in your field on your own time and taking advantage of opportunity when it comes along. An internship is one way that entrepreneurs can get a head start, but it’s certainly not the only chance they have to get ahead. At CSUEB, students are taught the principles of entrepreneurship and the underlying work ethic it takes to come out on top. 


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