More than 90 major companies and organizations from across the country were out in full force looking for their next batch of recruits at the annual HESTEC College Students Career Expo Friday, Sept. 28 at The University of Texas-Pan American.
Velinda Reyes, Office of Career Services director, said this year's event is the biggest in HESTEC's history.
Reyes said because of the increase in exhibitors this year, the career expo was split between the UTPA Fieldhouse and the Health and Physical Education Building II to accommodate recruiters.
She said the companies are discovering UTPA's talent pool and that is the main reason they continue to return every year.
"I think they are finding out that our students are a match for their companies," she said.
Next year, Reyes said she expects the career expo to grow to more than 100 exhibitors.
The ultimate goal of the career expo Reyes said is to help UTPA students and graduates discover what is available to them, and hopefully some will walk away with job offers.
"I hope the students get a lot of job offers and accept those opportunities, and take them as they will, whether they are local or out of state. Hopefully they feel they can then come back as a lot of former students have and recruit some more," she said.
Lucio Nunez-Salinas, a 2000 UTPA electrical engineering graduate, who works on the engineering side of Texas Instruments (TI), said he was happy to return to his alma mater and the career expo for a fourth year. This year he brought along five other UTPA alumni who currently work at the Dallas-based company to help in TI's recruitment efforts.
"We feel like we want to give back to UTPA because of what UTPA has given us. It is also nice to come and help people who are trying to find jobs," he said.
Nunez-Salinas said his best piece of advice for students looking for job opportunities with TI is to participate in as many co-op/internship opportunities as possible.
"Work experience is very important. The reason I was able to get a job when I graduated from UTPA was that I had past work experiences," he said.
Sonya Wolf, a 1992 UTPA graduate, who also works with TI in finance and accounting, said the company is looking to fill more than 200 positions in the areas of computer science, electrical and computer engineering.
"We are looking for individuals who are eager to learn and are open to moving and relocating to Dallas, where our corporate headquarters is," Wolf said.
Wolf said on Thursday, Sept. 27 she had the opportunity to interview some UTPA students and found several strong applicants that may be a good fit for TI. She said TI offers numerous co-op/internship or permanent new college graduate opportunities in the finance and engineering areas.
Two UTPA alumni from Intel, one of the world's leading developers in groundbreaking technology, were present to help recruit students to work for their company.
Juan de Dios Ramirez, a sort product development engineer for Intel in New Mexico and 2001 electrical engineering graduate, said he participated in a program with Intel when he attended UTPA and hoped to rebuild the relationship between the University and his employer, which he said dissolved soon after he graduated.
"I want to give back to my school and I want to give back to the community that helped me to succeed," he said. "We expect to be here next year too."
Ramirez said companies need to come to UTPA and recruit the students here because they are extremely loyal and qualified employees.
"Most of the people that graduate from this University really engage in the new companies that they work for. If the company treats them well, they are going to stay with that company and they are going to work hard," he said.
Most of the seniors and juniors came prepared with their résumés ready he said.
Galo Acuña, signal integrity systems engineer at Intel and 2000 electrical engineering graduate, said he wished there were opportunities of this caliber available to him when he came to UTPA.
"We had career fairs, but they were not as large as the one here at HESTEC," Acuña said. "We had to drive to El Paso to go to a conference like this back when I was in school here. So, it's great that this opportunity exists for students now."
Alyssa Pena, a junior majoring in international business at UTPA, came to the career expo last year and secured an internship with Ford Motor Company in Florida.
"I came again this year because it's a good opportunity," she said. "I just wanted to see what is available in terms of internships for this summer."
Pena said she wants to keep her opportunities open and see what other companies are offering, even though Ford has asked her to come back and participate in another internship with them.
"Internships allow me to get a feel for what different jobs are going to be like before I decide what I want to spend the rest of my life doing," she said.
Natasha Guerra, who is working toward her Master of Science in Accountancy, said she came to the expo because her graduation date is nearing.
"I'm trying to figure out what my options are - whether I want to work for a CPA firm or see what other companies can offer me, if I don't want to go into a firm," she said.
"I brought my résumés and I'm handing those out left and right," Guerra said, who will graduate May 2008.
Attending their first HESTEC Career Expo were representatives from AMETEK, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices. AMETEK employs more than 10,000 persons around the world and operates more than 70 manufacturing facilities, including one in Reynosa, Mexico.
Sonia Gonzalez, human resources director of AMETEK's Mexican and Texas operations, said the company builds parts for well-known automotive, aerospace and household appliance manufacturers and was particularly interested in recruiting manufacturing, mechanical and electrical engineers.
The company offers internships or what she called "professional residences." In April 2007, AMETEK awarded the UTPA Foundation a $30,000 endowment to support scholarships for students majoring in engineering.
"We believe in developing new talent," she said. Also recruiting at the expo for AMETEK was David Gonzalez, a 2002 manufacturing engineering graduate from UTPA, who is an AMETEK manufacturing engineering manager in the Reynosa plant.
He said AMETEK provides a great employment opportunity for UTPA graduates because it is a rapidly growing company and very diversified in its workforce and products.
Gonzalez, who is originally from Mexico but now lives in Edinburg, said his engineering education at UTPA provided him great preparation for his current career.
"The labs here are great and the instructors are very talented," he said.
Since going to work for AMETEK a year and a half ago, Gonzalez said he helped start a program with the College of Science and Engineering to provide hands-on experiences in his plant for UTPA engineering students in senior design classes. Currently three students in this program are working with Gonzalez to help develop equipment for an AMETEK line.
"This project is going to show what UTPA students are made of," he said.
Monsanto Production Supervisor Carlos Deloach, a process (chemical) engineer, who was recruiting expo attendees, works at a plant in Luling, La. near New Orleans, which produces Monsanto's family of Roundup® herbicides. Deloach said his company was primarily seeking students in engineering disciplines - mechanical, electrical and chemical but also candidates for their commercial operations, including marketing, accounting and finance.
He said they have many co-op/internship program opportunities available for students, noting he was part of the co-op program as a student, then subsequently hired by the company. He added that several UTPA students have participated in Monsanto co-op positions.
"Competing today, you have to have some level of experience. Students ask how do I get experience and also go to school and make good grades. This is what the co-op experience allows you to do, and to also make money because most of the jobs pay well," he said.
One of Monsanto's goals, he said, is to have a wide range of diversity in the company.
"So a goal is to have a pipeline of diverse candidates. We come in search of diversity," he said. "Also, we were pleasantly surprised, UTPA has a very good program and you have a very good career fair. We have found the HESTEC fair has been very beneficial to us. The instructors here come to talk to us. The students come and gather information ... they seem to be very interested."