GradLeaders recently interviewed Ramon Rossman, the University Recruiter at Blue Shield of California. We wanted to check in with one of our employer partners to better understand how their mission driven attitude allows them to make innovative changes throughout this year. Ramon Rossman graciously shared his educational and professional background, gave valuable advice to job seeking students, and provided updates on Blue Shield of California.
Emily: So how long have you worked with Blue Shield of California?
Ramon: Six years.
Emily: And what is your position? Can you describe a little bit about your role?
Ramon: I’m the university recruiter so my job is to basically go to different college campuses all over and do informational sessions with candidates to let them know about the opportunities at Blue Shield. Then I attend career fairs and I do the same thing to recruit talent and bring them back to Blue Shield for the positions we recruit for.
Emily: Okay so can you explain a little bit about your educational background and previous work experiences and how that kind of led you to where you are now?
Ramon: Well, I kind of got my job at Blue Shield on a fluke honestly, I didn’t know anything about health care, I didn't apply to Blue Shield, I was actually doing security there. The security company had a contract with Blue Shield and I had just started working at the Blue Shield office. I told my boss “Hey dude, I have a master's degree so me walking around the parking lot, that’s not going to work for me, I need something more.” He said alright well we have a desk position at Blue Shield of California, you can go over there, badge people in, do all that stuff, give them access. So, I’m there, a lady was doing interviews so she asked me to let the candidates know that she was here so she could come down and get them. Some of them didn’t show up and she came downstairs, long story short she interviewed me that day on the spot, offered me a job, I got my foot in at Blue Shield and I was a Customer Service Representative. I worked my way up and was told about a management training program, it’s like a rotational program for bachelor level students. I went into that program, I did it for about a year, after that I became a supervisor and did that for about two and a half years and then I became the university recruiter so just always moving forward in my career pretty much has gotten me to where I’m at.
Emily: That’s awesome. It sounds like a bunch of doors just opened and it led you to where you’re supposed to be. So, knowing what you know now, is there any advice that you would give to your college self about finding a job or starting your first job or anything about college?
Ramon: Yeah, I would say to network. Networking is so powerful. The three jobs that I was able to go into, yeah, I worked hard for them, but networking played a key factor in that. Because of my work ethic I was aligned with people who said, “hey you know what, you should go talk to this person about this role,” and that's how I got this job. So, it's like yeah, work hard but also network. Don't be afraid to talk to people you don't know, you never know where that can take you. So, if I could say anything to myself, it’d be to network, network, network.
Emily: That’s awesome. Do you have any advice on how student can network during this time when it might be harder because people can’t meet in person?
Ramon: Yeah definitely. If you’re interested in a specific area whether it be at a company or at school, use your network or reach out to people on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is like gold for networking. Hypothetically let's just say you were interested in becoming an analyst, but know nothing about the analytical world, well you can type in analytics on LinkedIn or type in business analyst and people will pop up. You can reach out to them and be like “Hey, I see you’re a business analyst I would like to learn more about what business analysts do. Could you spare 15 minutes of your time to chat with me?” You’re making a connection right there and that person can then connect you to someone else and before you know it, you’re getting all the information you need about being an analyst or where to look. Using outlets of communication whether it’s on campus, off campus, LinkedIn, it’s great.
Emily: That’s perfect, that’s great advice thank you. So, what is it that love most about your job today?
Ramon: What I love most about my job is that I get to see the people I recruit move into positions and knock it out of the ballpark. That’s the best thing for me. Creating an opportunity for someone else who showed the talent in the interview and then actually seeing them work hard and people saying, “wow this person is great.” I just love that part, providing an opportunity for someone else.
Emily: Yeah, I’m sure that’s very rewarding to see your relationship grow with them and see how they can succeed so far throughout the company. That’s awesome. So, could you share a little overview of what Blue Shield is and what it is that makes your company unique?
Ramon: Yeah so Blue Shield is a health care company. We’re mission driven, our mission is to provide health care to all Californians at an affordable price and rate and we truly live that mission. We make sure that we are reaching out to all members of the community not just some, all, and they all get the same treatment. I think that's very important that all members of the community are represented within our staff at Blue Shield because not just one community makes healthcare community there's many different communities out there and it's important that the people that we serve are reflected in the people that are employed. So just doing the right things consistently. Our CEO preaches to our mission and truly lives it and I think that trickles down in leadership to where people like me are empowered to do the right thing and make sure that we represent the brand and are willing to do everything that we need to do to ensure that we create a great member experience for our members.
Emily: That’s awesome I’m sure that makes you guys very unique and very valuable. How is Blue Shield of California dealing with the pandemic now? Are you working from home or are there still people working face to face?
Ramon: All of us work from home. The whole company is remote, business is continuing on though. We realize that during a pandemic, things are changing but that’s part of health care. Health care doesn’t stay the same it changes, and you have to roll with those changes. There’s been a lot of companies out there who have a summer internship program and some companies weren't able to continue on with their summer internship program but we decided that hey you know what, we owe it to the students that we recruited for this position to continue on, the show must go on. So we had our first virtual internship program this year and it was great. The students loved it, they brought a lot of value to Blue Shield, they made a lot of changes, they were innovative and great thinkers and it showed in the project work that they did.
Emily: That’s so valuable and although it is an online virtual experience, it’s still valuable and new experiences can be made. So, speaking of changes, how have your recruiting efforts changed since the pandemic?
Ramon: So, they’re all virtual. I just attended the National Black MBA Conference on Friday and it was virtual. People weren’t directly in front of you, but it was the same experience and it’s going to continue on with my recruitment this year. My informational sessions with the universities are virtual and when I attend a career fair, the career fair is virtual. We’re still getting to see the talent, people coming in inquiring about Blue Shield and what opportunities we have. I think it actually works out better for students because a lot more students are in attendance to these events because they don’t have to catch a flight to go to a conference like National Black MBA or Prospanica, they can just log onto their computer and attend if they’re interested and I think that’s great.
Emily: Yeah, I agree. How do you think students would be able to stick out among their peers when it’s all virtual, do you have any advice for that?
Ramon: Yeah, I would say show a genuine interest in the company and do your research on the company, that goes a long way. If you want to set yourself apart from everyone else, truly know the company that you’re visiting. If you you’re going to visit their booth, know about that company. You can come and say “hey I’m interested in Blue Shield, I know that you’re a mission driven company, I know that your mission is to provide affordable health care to all Californians but I’m curious to know your thoughts on this area or this, or do you guys recruit for this type of analytical role or this IT role.” Well when you’re telling a company about them it’s like oh this person did their research, they’re really here to play they’re genuinely interested in what we do here, I want to know more about this person. Let me see what they’re areas of interest are and let's see if we can find some common ground where I can set up a one on one conversation with them to interview them or point them in the direction of a job application that we’re recruiting for. So knowing a company will set you apart.
Emily: Yeah, that’s great advice thank you. Is there anything you wish more people understood or knew about Blue Shield of California?
Ramon: Well I get a common question all the time. And this question is “are you guys different than Blue Cross like what’s the difference?” And I basically explain it to everyone the same way. Think of the NFL. The NFL has a bunch of different teams like the Cowboys, the Patriots, the Raiders, but they’re their own team. Well Blue Shield of California is that, it’s one of the teams. The blue piece is the NFL, everyone falls under the blue. But underneath that blue are different blue plants; there’s Blue Shield of California, there’s Blue Cross, there’s Blue Cross Blue Shield, but all of these different blues are their own entity, they’re their own team. So, I think that’s the biggest question people have and that’s how I explain it.
Emily: Yeah that’s a great comparison, I love that. So, switching over to your partnership with GradLeaders, how has GradLeaders helped your recruiting efforts?
Ramon: Tremendously. I would say that GradLeaders has helped us out with the data that you guys can get for us. I want to say that two or three months ago I worked with a team at GradLeaders and you guys were able to give me some data that I hold very close because it shows me exactly where I need to be recruiting for health care talent and where the students are, the demographics. The ethnic graphics are very important for my university recruitment goals. I’m responsible for increasing the Latin and Black population at Blue Shield. So because of the data you guys provided, I’m able to look to see where the gaps are, where I should be recruiting and how I can improve those numbers.
Emily: Well good I’m glad you’ve been benefiting from it. Well that’s pretty much all the questions I had for you, is there anything else you wanted to add about Blue Shield of California or GradLeaders or anything at all?
Ramon: I would just say thank you guys for your partnership it’s been a tremendous help and I want to continue on with our partnership so if you or anyone needs any information from me, feel free to reach out and I’ll continue to do the same.
Emily: Well Ramon thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me, I know we really appreciate your partnership and this has been so valuable interview so I really appreciate it thank you so much.
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