Kimberly Duenas, Gas Creative Group’s (Gas’) new Communications and Social Media Coordinator, is no stranger to Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) or Associated Students, Inc. (ASI). A communications and public relations graduate of 2011, Duenas previously worked in the same department as a student lead staff writer. After a few years of gaining experience in the “real world,” she is back and eager to prepare students for life beyond CPP.
Tell me about your involvements as a CPP student.
I had an amazing college experience, mainly because I was so involved with different aspects of the college. I was a transfer student, so I was used to being the big fish in a little pond at Mt. SAC (Mount San Antonio College). I was special events chair for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter at CPP during my third year and president during my fourth year. I planned COM day, that same year; it was the first time that we hosted and opened that event to the whole campus, not just communication students. Being involved with that allowed me to network with my peers. I met Tiffany Chen, who was a staff writer for Gas [and] eventually I applied for that same job.
What made you want to work for Gas Creative Group again?
I love it here. When I left I didn’t really want to leave. [Gas] lets you go when you graduate to see how the skills you learned here apply to the real world. When I realized that there was an opportunity to come back, I wanted to jump on it. It just feels like home and I have a lot to bring to the table now, professionally; it was perfect timing.
How is it different now as a professional staff member in comparison to being a student staff member?
When I worked here as a student, I was learning as a student from an adviser so that they can help prepare me for “the real world.” Now, I’m that mentor and teacher that will be setting the example for the team. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and now I’m back at my Alma mater practicing the skills that I learned here. I’ve come full circle.
Can you tell me a bit about your experience outside of Cal Poly Pomona?
After college, you try to “find yourself.” Just like a lot of other recent college graduates, I took any opportunity I could to get by and make rent. I knew that I wanted to work for ASI again, but until then, I knew that I wanted and needed to gain experience outside of ASI to be able to come back and bring something new to the table. At Hand & Nail Harmony (the parent company to Gelish, the number one gel-polish manufacturer in the world), which is where I worked after graduation, I worked in brand and project management. I had tight deadlines with major magazines and production lines that I essentially no down-time, but it helped that I was really passionate about my job and the products that I worked with.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
I love the BSC; you can find everything there. Aside from the fact that it is indoors with air conditioning, which is a must for me, there’s so much liveliness. There’s entertainment–music and TV, food and recreation.
What is your favorite memory of CPP?
The story of how I met my boyfriend because when you’re in college you don’t actually think you are going to meet people who will be in your life forever. It made my whole CPP experience; it’s really special. I took him under my wing, showed him around, I was so involved, it was easy to get him involved as well. I think it also made his college experience.
What or who inspires you?
As far as professionals go, there are a lot of people who inspire me including my former professors, managers and creative directors at my previous jobs, but in general, I would say my family inspires me. I come from a large, tight-knit family; I’m one of the older children out of five siblings. I try to do well so that I can motivate my younger siblings to do well too.
What is a fun fact about you?
I love the beauty industry. I wanted to go to cosmetology school after high school, but my parents wanted me to go to college and get my degree, in which they told me I could do whatever I wanted to after that. On the weekends, when I was in high school, I used to stay home and try to recreate various looks on myself that I saw on my favorite celebrities in magazines…everything from different hair color, make-up styles and nail art–I did it all (and still do from time to time). That’s another reason why I worked for Hand & Nail Harmony, the nail industry was a great opportunity for me to explore this industry in which I have always been interested.
What advice would you give Kim, the student, now that you’ve experienced “the real world?”
Take advantage of every opportunity; the skills that you learn here [at Gas] are priceless. Take risks, trust your heart and instincts more. Trust that you made the right choices and that you’re on the right path.