Westmont Magazine Helping Students Find What’s Next
Paul Bradford ’84 keeps getting more connected to Westmont. “I’ve seen the college through so many different lenses: student, alumnus, consultant, adjunct professor, small-time donor and parent,” he says. In July 2016, he added to the list when he became director of the Career Development and Calling office. He brings 30 years of business and marketing experience to the task of inspiring students to start planning for life after Westmont as soon as they arrive on campus.
His old Craftsman toolbox provides an analogy for his goals. “I use some of my tools with great regularity while others stay in the bottom of the box,” Paul says. “Many are useful in a broad array of circumstances, and a few are designed for one specific task. Our team’s vision is to help students discover, add to, and then act upon the tools God has given them—tools that will serve them personally and professionally during their lifetime.”
Paul’s diverse career spans many areas of business, including technology, real estate, public affairs and non-profit management, all in Santa Barbara. He worked on local political campaigns and served as executive assistant and chief of staff for a county supervisor. An economics and business major at Westmont, he earned an MBA at Pepperdine University. For the past few years, he has taught marketing at the college as an adjunct professor.
In his new role, Paul works to inspire students to think deeply about the road ahead, articulate their strengths and interests, hone their story, and equip themselves to find their calling. He focuses especially on seniors. “The reality of an approaching graduation creates a healthy sense of urgency for them,” he says. His long-term goal involves building a four-year experience that attracts and engages students and becomes an integral part of their college years. “Using online assessment tools, receiving one-on-one career counseling, getting assistance with resumes and interviews, serving internships and learning about possible jobs, students will leave Westmont with the tools needed to make a wider impact,” he says.
According to Paul, social media presents a challenge. “It can create false expectations,” he says. “Nowhere on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook do people post about their professional setbacks. Consequently students receive a constant barrage of success and happiness, creating a false narrative about what they can expect from the working world. Our challenge is to push and support them to discover what they want, develop the grit to go get it, and yet be realistic about setbacks being a part of life and work.”
Paul comes from a well-connected Westmont family. His son and daughter-in-law, Evan ’14 and Theresa Nealon ’13 Bradford, both graduated, and his twin sons, Tyler and Grant, are juniors. Paul’s sister, Teri Bradford Rouse ’77, serves as senior director of alumni and parent relations, and she is married to John Rouse ’78. Their daughter, Ellie Rouse, is a junior. Paul sees these relationships and his many ties to the Santa Barbara community as valuable assets as he works with students to prepare them for what’s next.