The Aloha Center Ballroom was packed with students, employers and graduate school admissions officers getting to know each other at the Career Fair on Oct. 17. More than 50 employers and graduate schools came to recruit students for internships, jobs and graduate programs. Students said the Career Fair helped them learn what they need to do to prepare to enter the workforce.
Sungjoon Ha, a junior information technology major from Korea, explained how he came to the Career Fair to learn what he could do with his major. “As an IT major, I wanted to know what kind of departments I could work in. I wanted to see what I needed to do to prepare to get a job.”
Ha said the Career Fair helped him realize his home country would be the best place for him to go work. “When I would say I am an IT major, they would tell me all of the IT jobs are on the mainland. There aren’t really any job openings here [in Hawaii] in IT. I think I need to go back to my country and prepare for my job. It was really helpful.”
Heilala Garcia, a senior from Kahuku studying hospitality and tourism management, works for Alumni and Career Services. She said this event is different from the Asia Pacific Career Conference because it is targeted toward mainland students and those who want to stay in the United States after graduating.
“We recognize our student body isn’t just from Asia Pacific. We do have a lot of mainlanders, so we wanted to open it up to our mainlanders as well ... The goal was to make sure our domestic students don’t feel left out, and to open opportunities for international students who want to stay here for a master’s degree. A lot of these are colleges, not just employers.”
One of these domestic students, Sandi Nihipali, a junior social work major from Hauula, said she came looking for post-college opportunities. “I wanted to look for different opportunities for jobs and internships to do after school. I did. I found a lot of jobs and internships related to my major in social work.”
The overall goal of Alumni and Career Services, Garcia said, is to help students prepare to enter employment after they graduate. “We really want to help them get out there and get a job, an internship, or continue their education. Our department has merged. We are now called Ho’okele. We are Alumni and Career Services, Admissions, and Recruitment and New Student Experience.
“Ho’okele means navigator. People talk about holokai all the time as their voyage and journey. Our goal is to bring them in, help them while they're here, and then help them in their real life. Even after, with alumni, we will still reach out. Our goal is to help them navigate through life in general.”
Employers, she explained, have had previous experiences with BYU–Hawaii or were recruited from other career fairs in Honolulu. “A lot of these employers were here previously. They already knew what was going on. We also do have relations managers who would go to other career fairs and say ‘Hey, we are having this on the North Shore. There are a bunch of students who don’t come down here all the time.’”