From IT to design: how an alumnus moved to new beginnings

By Marlen Chinos

Thousands of students graduate from college every year, but how many truly find success with their degrees? In today’s fast paced society, it is both refreshing and inspiring to witness an individual who is able to take college experiences and put them to work in the “real world.”

Alumnus Aasim Rizvi attended Cal Poly Pomona beginning in fall 2006. In summer 2010, Rizvi graduated with a degree in business administration with an emphasis in computer information systems.

Initially, however, attending CPP was not Rizvi’s first choice.

“It was my backup school,” said Rizvi via a phone interview. “However, it has a legacy to it. My dad graduated from Cal Poly, and my older sister did as well. It was a place I grew up always visiting. Something familiar.”

As an undergrad, Rizvi found his love for design when he joined Associated Students, Inc.’s marketing department, Gas Creative Group (now known as Marketing, Design & PR), in 2008.

“I think the biggest thing that really made me realize what I wanted to do was when I joined ASI and started working with Gas Creative Group,” said Rizvi. “I was a web developer, and was surrounded by graphic designers, writers and photographers. It opened my mind to a whole other world I was not familiar with.”

While working with Gas Creative Group, Rizvi constantly set the standard by creating designs that were both visually appealing and functional.

“Aasim is a forward thinking ideator,” said Cathy Neale, marketing and public relations manager of Gas Creative Group, who has known Rizvi since 2009. “With his web skills and his IT background, he really has an eye for design. So in the development of our website, he was really able to take us to the next level. He really contributed to the traffic of visitors to our website.”

Throughout his CPP career, Rizvi was always a standout student.

“He always raised the bar,” said Ruth Guthrie, interim chair and professor in the computer information systems department, who has also known Rizvi since 2009. “He had a lot of skill visually and a very forward way of thinking. When I would give an assignment, he could turn something that was kind of mediocre into gold.”

In his last year at CPP, Rizvi started an event design company with fellow colleagues, called Sugar & Fluff, which, after graduation, led him to fashion and design.

“We decided to start a design company together and did that for a couple of years,” said Rizvi. “I got into another world of design and photography, and that’s what got me into fashion and design. I was surrounded by so much design, and I felt like the fun part was always the concepts, the art boards, the mood boards and coming up with ideas. I was like, ‘I want to do that! I don’t want to be behind a computer and just coding all the time.'”

After graduation, Rizvi kept himself busy through various projects. Departing from the information technology department, he has moved towards more creative projects.

“I really wanted to step out of IT,” said Rizvi. “I am working on a YouTube channel called Aasim TV, which is primarily men’s wear and men’s fashion. Now, I just try and keep myself busy, keeping up with marketing trends and design. I just keep going.”

In the future, Rizvi hopes to begin a program in which he can help college students who are struggling financially.

“I remember textbooks were expensive, and financial aid was not cutting it,” said Rizvi. “It is really hard to go to school and work. I want to give back to students, and maybe once a month, sponsor a kid for his or her textbooks. I think that would have totally helped me out in school.”

It is safe to say that CPP has helped pave the way to Rizvi’s successful career.

“Although Cal Poly was my second choice, I wouldn’t change my experience for the world,” said Rizvi. “If I could look back and someone asked me to choose between Harvard or Cal Poly, I would choose Cal Poly. The people I met there and all of the opportunities are priceless. I know it sounds cheesy and bizarre, but I don’t think I would be the same person.”

Now as a marketing coordinator, and a freelance art director and producer, Rizvi has become a great example of the results of hard work and dedication.

“You just have to be consistent, and it’ll pay off eventually,” said Rizvi. “Don’t ever compare yourself to others, and that is what is going to keep you sane in this industry.”

Aasim Rizvi

Faizan Ghori /

Aasim Rizvi

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