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Dan Berkon

Dan Berkon

Culmen International


Personal Information

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School: University of California, Los Angeles

Major: International Relations

Career Information

Company You Work For Now: Culmen International

Title: Founder/President/CEO

Industry: Government

Brief Description of Duties / Responsibilities

Provide management and technical services to the US Departments. of Defense, State, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security in support of international security, nuclear nonproliferation and counterterrorism initiatives.

What Has Been Your Proudest Accomplishment Post-CWP?

After graduation, I worked 11 years at another company, where I became one of two owners after about 6 years. But the founder and majority owner was a drunk and a bad business partner. I resigned, and started my own company with virtually zero cash. In 9 months we booked $9 million, and were off and running.

CWP Career Impact

In one sentence, what has CWP meant to you?

CWP provided me the opportunity to manage employee, cold call customers, solve problems, and realize the direct connection between hard work and success, all of which have been instrumental in my career as an entrepreneur.

How did your CWP experience impact your career? Immediately after graduation? Now?

Immediately after graduation, I went to work for a defense contractor, where I applied my project management experience at CWP to start managing projects with minimal oversight.

What do you want to tell your clients about what it meant to work with them and how it has helped you get to where you are today?

I don't recall the name of any specific clients; however, the great ones were the ones who doubted we could do this as well as professional painters, but recognized the value of this program and were willing bet on us. I would want to say Thank you for giving us the chance to prove that a bunch of college kids, with the dedication to customer service, focus on quality and a good work ethic can deliver what they promise, and add value to your property (in spite of your spouses very valid warnings to the contrary!)

What was the greatest lesson you learned from your CWP experience?

Solving problems - with employees, with customers, with sales, with quality. These issues exist in every business, and the quicker you learn how to recognize them, take ownership of them, find resolutions and prevent recurrence, the better leader you will be.

How has the friendships and networks you built during CWP affected you?

When I was a branch manager, I selected my brother and two of my high school friends to each lead a crew. I knew all of them had potential, but they didn't realize what they were capable of until they proved it to themselves that summer. Those three C average students found a new sense of pride and went on to become a lawyer, an incredibly successful manager in the construction industry, and a nationally renown sports agent. When I was a district manager, one of my managers went on to become a successful entrepreneur who later sold his company and retired in his 40s. My mentors, Mark Moses, Jay Reid and Spencer Pepe managed to have a success or two in business themselves:). Mark turned me on to EO and YPO, both of which have been incredibly influential in my life as an entrepreneur.

If you had to come up with an one line slogan for CWP, what would it be? :)

Building tomorrow's leaders.


What advice do you have for potential CWP participants? Current CWP participants?

Don't waste your summers working retail. The time to start building your resume and reputation is now. Take advantage of the CWP opportunity to learn, grow and see what you are made of. Don't drop out, and don't settle for just getting by. Be a leader. That doesn't mean be a jerk. That means do your best, learn from your mistakes, and share your mistakes with others. Make an impact on your customers, your employers, and your CWP colleagues. Inspire and be inspired. Respect others, and earn the respect of others. Decide now that you want to be a leader, and make this your first chance to prove it.

What's your best advice for someone interested in entering your career field?

Internships specific to a target industry are important for gaining industry insight and making connections. However, those internships rarely give you the opportunity to be challenged and prove yourself across a broad spectrum of professional skills - personnel management, sales, marketing, customer relations, quality assurance. CWP is the most comprehensive internship opportunity available to college students, and nothing can prepare one better for a challenging professional career in the real world. Do CWP first for a couple of years, then use the experience to secure the most competitive internships in your target industry after you have learned a ton and are prepared to show them what you are made of.

Last words of wisdom

Don't waste another day...become a leader.

Dan Berkon