HPU grads get career help to join a recovering economy, as employers show new interest

October 25, 2012

Joseph Barrientos

Joseph Barrientos

HONOLULU — More than 400 students will graduate from Hawai‘i Pacific University this winter, along with tens of thousands of their peers nationwide. And while graduates are still entering a labor market struggling toward recovery, a recent national report shows that employers plan on hiring 13 percent more from the class of 2013 than the class of 2012.

HPU’s Career Services Center had a strong response to the annual Health Science and Social Services Career Fair, held at the Hawaii Loa Campus on Oct. 24. Thirty-two companies ranging from Hawaii Pacific Health, Department of Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sought potential employees from Hawai‘i Pacific University. (A list of participating companies can be found at www.hpu.edu/CareerServices/Students/hssscareerfair.html.)

The Career Services Center provides targeted career coaching to prospective graduates to help them gain traction in an uncertain job market. HPU Dean of Student Achievement Programs Joseph Barrientos, who oversees the center, says it’s more important than ever for graduates to enter the job market with tailored and targeted marketing tools, such as cover letters and resumes; to develop and utilize their professional network; and for students to intentionally use social media to broaden their network, to enhance their job search and to “push” their professional electronic persona to a wider audience.

To ensure that HPU graduates are armed with the necessary skills and tools to successfully transition into the workforce, Career Center Counselors work with prospective graduates on an individual basis to review their marketing tools. The Career Center also offers drop-in-resume review services for particularly busy students. Career counselors meet with prospective graduates to assess and map out their job search strategy, refine interviewing skills through videotaped mock interviews and learn the art of networking etiquette.

According to Barrientos, recent reports from the Labor Department show Hawaii’s unemployment rate dropping to 5.7 percent in September, which mirrors what is happening nationally, with the U.S. unemployment rate dipping to 7.8 percent. As the economy recovers, companies project to hire more workers, providing a positive job outlook for prospective graduates. This positive outlook is also reflected in the desire for companies to participate in job fairs to fill current and potential job openings.

In addition to the coaching prospective graduates receive from the HPU Career Center counselors, guest experts are routinely invited to help students prepare for major events like this week’s career fair. A week before Hawaii Loa fair, for instance, a session on “How to Impress A Recruiter” was conducted by Dawn Omalza from Hawai‘i Pacific Health targeting prospective Nursing graduates. To expand job prospects for students majoring in the Natural Sciences, a workshop on “Careers with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration” was led recently by Lt. Jonathan Taylor, regional operations coordinator with NOAA. 

“Helping students make a successful transition from backpack to briefcase, from student to professional, is the goal of HPU’s Career Center staff,” said Barrientos.

Those sentiments were echoed by Chloe Maeshiro, an HPU student majoring in Health Science. “The Career Services Center prepared me to succeed at my internship, as well as for future endeavors,” she said. “They helped me to improve my interviewing skills and were available throughout my internship to answer questions, set up meetings and keep me on task. The Career Services Center is a great resource for any student determined to find the right career path and the steps to get there.”