More than 2,000 individuals visited with 60 organizations and companies during the eighth annual HESTEC Career Expo Oct. 2 at The University of Texas-Pan American.
"The expo provided the recruiters with a different kind of student," she said. "We have a very unique student population here on campus. Our students have some really great qualities to offer these organizations. The organizations that are here, with the economic situation the way it is, are really looking at getting a return on the investment they make of our student population."
Over 30 UTPA alumni attended the expo, held at the UTPA Fieldhouse and Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex, representing their respective companies.
One of UTPA's youngest graduates Victor Reyes returned to the Career Expo for the fourth time as a recruiter. Reyes, who graduated in 2005 at 18 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, went on to work for The Boeing Company in 2006. He currently works as a structures design engineer for Boeing and enjoys meeting with students at the expo.
"I thought it would be great to come back and talk to alumni and students who are here," Reyes said. "I know two people who just came back from summer internships where I worked and loved it."
Eddie Castilleja, a UTPA alumnus who graduated with a bachelor's in finance in 2001 and is a Target recruiter in charge of all South Texas, said coming back gives him a chance to look out for his alma mater.
"Being part of the Target team, I come back and try to look out for my own school, where I graduated from, and let students know just what a great career this is," Castilleja said.
August 2009 graduate Joanna Solis said she came to the expo in search of job opportunities in her field of study, international business.
"I just recently graduated and I wanted to see what kind of opportunities there were," said the 22-year-old Rio Grande City native. "I was looking at Target and CS Robinson, mainly ones that were more on the business side and for manager positions."
Networking among organizations was also a priority for Solis.
"Coming here I got to meet a lot of different employers and talk to different people," she said. "It's not just about trying to find a job, it's about networking and that's one of the things I feel is really important."
Solis said she prepared for the event by utilizing the services offered by Career Services.
Castilleja said what they are looking for in Target applicants is the willingness to relocate to another part of the country, something that Solis said she is willing to do, but is not a shared feeling for others.
UTPA alumna Elsa Garcia, a production engineer for Shell Oil Co. and member of their recruiting team, knows first-hand the need for Valley students to be willing to relocate.
"That is something that I think a lot of companies struggle with when they come to South Texas, people don't really want to leave," said the McAllen native. "We are looking for people that just want to go out there. I'm from South Texas and I moved to Denver. We are looking for people that are willing to relocate and take that chance of going to another city and culture, not only for their own benefit but the benefit of the company.
Garcia, who got involved in HESTEC her sophomore year at UTPA, returned to Edinburg to share her work experience.
"I wanted to come back because it just seemed right to come and help other students," she said. "I wanted to share how I like working for Shell and what it's like."
For those planning to attend next year's HESTEC Career Expo, Reyes' advice to students is to research the companies in attendance in advance.
"Research what you want to do," Reyes said. "Decide where you want to go and what you're willing to do. Set some time aside to think about what you like and what you don't and come to a career fair to find out more about specific jobs."