The 34th Annual Career Day at The University of Texas-Pan American attracted nearly 1,000 students who were hoping to land their dream jobs or internship opportunities during one of the biggest events of the year for the Office of Career Services.
The career fair is considered the general fair for all UTPA majors and offers opportunities for those in the fields of criminal justice, business, communication, art, computer sciences and much more said Lou Servantes, assistant director of Career Services.
"The goal of the fair is to get students aware of what career opportunities are out there and hopefully get some of them internships and full-time, entry-level positions and experienced positions," Servantes said. "The job fair is what we do to try and increase the opportunities available to our students."
Looking for a possible internship during Career Day was Fernando Belmares, a manufacturing engineering junior, who had submitted résumés to several representatives including Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas. Belmares said he prepared for the day by attending Career Services sessions prior to the fair where he learned tips on how to dress and what to include on his résumé.
Belmares, who is interested in a career in the automotive industry, said he had attended Career Day in the past as a spectator, not as a job hunter. He said it was important for him to get a head start on his career choices before graduating in December 2009.
"It is just great to have all these companies here to give us an opportunity to make something of our education," Belmares said. "Career Services just keep up the good work."
Representatives from Marathon Oil, headquartered in Houston, were making their first appearance at the UTPA Career Day. Recruiter Charisa Sutton who accompanied the company's director of engineering, said they came to establish a relationship with UTPA in order to attract talent, especially within their own "backyard."
"We heard there was some really good talent out here, particularly in the engineering program. We have a lot of opportunities that we think they may be interested in," she said.
Sutton, who oversees Marathon's internship program, said there were about 110 interns coming in for their 2007 summer internship program and they would be recruiting for the 2008 program starting in September 2007.
"It is a very robust program with good hands-on experience and scholarship opportunities. We had an 82 percent acceptance rate last year converting students to full-time hires," she said, noting she was pleased to see the internship experiences some of the UTPA students had with companies such as Halliburton.
Describing Marathon employment sites as far away as Alaska, Sutton said her recommendation to students would be to remain open and flexible regarding relocation.
"A lot of the people who work in our Houston tower office started out in places like Wyoming," she said.
Standing alongside other recruiters in the Wal-Mart booth at the fair was UTPA alumnus Jorge Gonzalez, who graduated with a degree in international business in 2000. He said his education prepared him well to enter a career with the company seven years ago as a district manager in Houston. Currently Gonzalez, who now lives in Edinburg, is the market fashion merchandiser for nine Wal-Mart stores ranging in location from Edinburg to Laredo and is in charge of the apparel, jewelry and shoe divisions.
Gonzalez said he advised students to be open to relocating in order to pursue their career. He said after moving to his first job in Houston at age 21, he next moved to Laredo, then to San Antonio before returning to his current job back in the Valley.
"You have to do some sacrifices," he said, which allowed him to rise more quickly to his current position. He also credited his educational preparation at UTPA and the assistance of Career Services, which helped him land an internship with Wal-Mart while at UTPA.
"I was prepared to put together budgets, business plans, P & L's - all I learned here I am using at Wal-Mart," he said.
He said UTPA graduates bring much-desired diversity to his company's work force.
"There is a big push for Latinos or Hispanics, not only for this area but for San Antonio, Houston and other areas. The diversity of this campus is what corporations want in the United States," he said.
Also this month the Office of Career Services will host the Teacher Job Fair on March 27 at the UTPA Fieldhouse. Servantes said they are expecting more than 80 school district employers looking to hire their next batch of educators.
For more information on the Office of Career Services or to learn more about the programs and services they offer, call 956/381-2243.