Alumni Offer Advice to Students

Pulling all nighters for exams. Writing draft after draft for an upcoming paper. Working tirelessly with a student organization. This is what the college experience consists of.

Randall Baumberger, a UCI 1988 graduate with a degree in Film and Media studies, is currently the head of Paramount Pictures. Baumberger had a real love for films, theater, literature and language as an undergraduate. While studying under the Humanities department, Baumberger learned to think critically, process information and articulate views. “From my studies, I gained a greater appreciation from the creative process and saw how great films could impact society.”

Before heading to Paramount Pictures, Baumberger worked in a number of companies including PepsiCo’s Taco Bell Corporation, The Walt Disney Company, and Game Crazy, a business focusing on video games. He later completed an MBA program at California State University, Fullerton in 1992. “In my business career, I’ve learned that every business is similar. You have to understand what your product is and who your customers are,” said Baumberger.

Baumberger believes that those who exhibit drive and enthusiasm will be able to connect with others and accomplish what they set out to achieve. “Doers have a passion and people will respond to people who have a passion,” he said. “I recommend students to be open to learning and think of how their learning can translate and be applied to the world around you.”

Similarly, Mark Okey, a native of Huntington Beach, California, entered UC Irvine with a love of US History. Like Baumberger, he decided to major in something he had a passion for, figuring that he would receive higher grades by taking classes he was interested in. The Humanities Core Course, an interdisciplinary course required for Humanities major, had a big influence on him. “Through Humanities Core, I learned the ability to analyze and navigate information and formulate ideas. I also learned how to be a good writer and how to communicate effectively,” said Okey.

During his four years at UC Irvine, Okey was active in a number of organizations. He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, participated in student/faculty committees, and ran for student government (where he lost). “Looking back they were all good experiences, even the ones that did not end up as I would have preferred at the time,” Okey commented. “Like most things in life, I quickly learned that what you get out of any group or organization you join is directly proportional to the time and effort you put into it.”

Following his graduation in 1979, Okey attended Hastings College of the Law. He passed the California bar exam the first time, a rarity for fresh law-school graduates, and started his first job working at a law firm in downtown Los Angeles. After working at three law firms in his first four years of practice, he settled in as an in-house attorney and has worked for three companies over the last twenty four years. He currently works at Ingram Micro as the Director and Senior Corporate Counsel, where he has been for the past 17 years.  Though he has had number of accomplishments in law following college, Okey credits his gap year as important in his career development. I would highly recommend taking time off between degrees.  Travel, work or whatever, it allows you to bring a broader perspective to your graduate school experience beyond just being a student,” said Okey.

Besides a gap year, Okey recommends students to keep an open mind. “Sometimes it takes a while to find your niche in life.  However, do not give up.  Keep trying and eventually, with enough persistence and determination, you will make it. I have always liked the saying, ‘80 percent of success is just showing up.’  Although it is not as easy as it sounds, you have to keep showing up,” he said. “And always try to exceed others expectations of you and the task at hand.  Although it may not be easy to do, or even possible, when you are able to exceed expectations, you will stand out and be noticed.  And that is when new opportunities will present themselves.  Don’t be afraid to seize them.”