by Megan Sanborn
Justin Bird’s signature flashy smile can be seen every week on Thursdays by millions of viewers with a simple click of the remote. The Chapman University alumnus uses his weekly exposure to continue his own prospects in the entertainment industry, and he knows what it takes to be successful in the limelight.
“Your true colors will always shine through and prevail,” said Bird of his onscreen persona.
Bird has a featured role as an assistant on the widely popular reality television show The Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo. The show, which has been broadcasted since 2008, follows Patti Stanger, a loud and brash matchmaker, and her attempts to find love for rich, successful men.
How did Bird get such a cushy job? The edge that put him above other candidates, he said, came through Chapman’s entrepreneur training, which for more than 10 years has been a part of its Bachelor Business Program.
You don’t need a college entrepreneur program to succeed in entertainment – Stanger didn’t go that route. But Bird, a 2011 graduate with an MBA degree, knows it has helped open the Hollywood door for him.
After being added to Patti Stanger’s staff in 2013, Bird’s credibility had to come from his performance, not his Chapman entrepreneur credentials. But his talent, he said, was solidified by that entrepreneur program.
“The curriculum in the business program was very expansive which seemed to cover all areas of the business world,” said Bird. “Your involvement as a student at Chapman is completely in your control and I took advantage of most of the networking events they hosted as well as traveling abroad.”
“One company might look at the degree and say it’s very broad with no focus, while another company may view the degree as well balanced and more desirable in their eyes,” said Bird. “Depends what angle you look at it. However I wouldn’t change my educational background for anything.”
Certainly, there are other avenues to business success. Stanger’s degree, for example, was in fine arts. And many point to Kim Kardashian’s financial success, though her first claim to fame was merely a video tape depicting her sex life.
Kelly Zupan, a sophomore at Chapman University, points to the Kardashian example. Zupan herself is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. She is preparing to expand her career focus after graduating, but understands how a career is not solely based on a piece of paper.
“Look at people like Kardashian,” said Zupan. “Yes, she obviously does not have a degree in business. But she’s one of the most well known businesswomen right now. You can’t walk through a store without seeing her books, makeup, or clothing,” Zupan said. “A degree isn’t really necessary unless you’re trying to label yourself as credible and educated.”
But Bird defends the entrepreneurial route.
“Without the solid foundation I obtained by earning my MBA, I don’t think I would be the same person academically nor professionally,” said Bird. “[The degree] just sits there unless you utilize your skills, personality, and drive.”