Makenzie is a strategic and corporate communication graduate with a minor in political science. During her senior year she and her mom bought a restaurant space and decided to open Vibes Beach Cafe in Long Beach. Below Makenzie shares her journey from Chapman student to restaurant owner and offers some advice for students and other recent grads. If you want to connect with Makenzie you can find her on LinkedIn.

Where do you work and what is your job title?
I am the Co-Owner and Director of Operations for Vibes Beach Cafe

What does your job entail?
My job currently and from the beginning has been ever-changing. When we first started this project my job day to day was construction, planning, and design based. We were left with questions every day on how we would bring a building that had been seemingly forgotten about back to life. Vibes Beach Cafe is in the original location of a long-standing institution of restaurants and cafes since the early 1930s. However, when we took on this challenge the physical building had been left vacant for well over two years.

Before Construction

It took us from February of 2017 (before I had graduated) to December of 2018 to open our doors and make this dream a reality. Today, my job consists of managing the overall operation of Vibes Beach Cafe! I oversee ordering, take care of hiring and employee development, as well as making sure we are keeping up with our social and constantly evolving as we see fit for the needs and wants of our customers.

Vibes Cafe


Tell us about your internship experience while at Chapman.
I actually never interned but worked full-time during my undergrad at Chapman. I worked for Nordstrom as a part of the sales team for about 2 years and after that did the design and marketing for Liberty Coin an e-commerce-based company in Huntington Beach. Both of these positions I believe equally added to my success in running my own business. I learned how to interact with customers and identify their wants and needs before they asked, and how to market to a widely varying audience.
I believe work experience is so important no matter what the position before you graduate not only for resume purposes but to see what you like and your strengths and weaknesses in a practical setting.

Why did you choose Chapman University and the School of Communication?
I chose Chapman University and the School of Communication because I value the importance of a life-changing education. As a first-generation college student and graduate, I wanted to show my family and younger siblings the importance of a well-rounded and versatile degree and overall education. I sought out a degree that I knew would pique interest in future employers and at a widely accredited and renowned university. My degree in Strategic and Corporate Communication was something I identified early on that would provide me skills and an education that would continually advance me in my future and years to come.

How has your School of Communication degree benefited you in your career?
My degree from the SoC has been monumental to my success! I even established such close bonds with a few of my previous professors that we continually keep in contact. I believe that directly reflects how invested the educators are at this University and a testament to the type of education incoming Chapman students can expect.
I’ve had a professor stop a lecture and completely derail a lesson plan to ask every single student what they wanted out of their experience in his class. That interaction stood out to me in ways that will stick with me forever! Its moments like that and thousands of others where professors are completely invested and want to genuinely know how they can assist you for your future. Really acknowledging the idea and foundation of an individualized education for each and every student. My career wouldn’t be what it is today without the fundamental principles I was provided during my time at Chapman.

What advice do you have for undergraduate students or recent graduates?
My advice for undergraduate students it to make the most of your time at Chapman! This is the school that will change your future and shape you in ways you can’t possibly imagine. Getting involved, asking questions, and truly being present are all things I can’t recommend enough. Recent graduates – reach out to your professors and alumni and tell them where you see yourself and in what industry. More often than not they will have contacts for you and jump at the opportunity to see their student and peers succeed!