Barbara Salas, a mechanical engineering major in her last semester of school, said she appreciated the chance to get an up close look at employment possibilities when she attended the Career Expo Friday, Oct. 11 at The University of Texas-Pan American.
Salas said though she has a job lined up with Toyota Motor Corp. it was interesting to entertain other offers at the Career Expo.
"It is about networking and just getting my name out there," she said.
UTPA held its annual Career Expo at the Fieldhouse from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., which featured more than 40 government agencies and companies searching for new employees. The organizations set up bright displays, handed out pencils, pens, food items, and electronic gadgets while offering on-site interviews for internship and work opportunities.
The career fair coincides with the University's Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology (HESTEC) Week, now in its 12th year.
Lourdes Servantes, UTPA's director of Career Services, said she expected 1,000 students and alumni or more to attend the expo, where many will get their initial introduction to the companies, she said.
"From the career fair, we hope students will get called back for interviews, for second interviews, arrange site visits with some of these organizations. This is the initial point of contact ...the screening part," she said.
Servantes said employers like IBM have been coming to UTPA since the late 1990s when the engineering program started and now are offering job opportunities in other majors.
Victor Alves, a senior in marketing, said the expos gave him a great opportunity to polish up on his interviewing skills and to get a head start on a job search.
"It is so much better than applying online. The companies come knowing you are a student and have limited amount of work experience in your field. Overall it is just a great opportunity for us to talk to future employers, network and maybe get a job in the future," Alves said.
Servantes said she was pleased that many of the expo's company recruiters were alumni, who take pride in coming and giving back to the University.
Gabriel Menchaca (BA '09, business management), was handing out free Frito Lay products in between talking to students about his company's sales associate internship positions. He said he worked at H-E-B while in school at UTPA before going to work for Pepsico's Frito Lay division. The McAllen native, who now works in Corpus Christi as a sales district leader, said he learned a lot from his professors and the mentors he had in prior jobs. He had some advice for Rio Grande Valley students.
"You got to be open to moving if you want to propel your career and move up," he said. "Also, you need to focus on the studies and really shoot to be the best or great at what you are doing. And make sure you are networking. Networking is key when you are looking for a job. Start talking to recruiters and make it known who you are."
Juan, a project engineer now overseeing the construction of the new building on campus located next to the University Center, said he has worked out of state previously and described the education students are receiving at UTPA equal to any in the country. He's also excited about recruiting at the expo, which provides him a chance to give back to the University that gave him opportunities to be in the career he has now.
"I'm very proud of this and now actually working on buildings on the campus - I don't even have words for that ... it's pretty neat," he said.
Juan said when students come by to talk to him, he remembers when he was in their shoes and gives them advice.
"I tell them there are a lot of companies here so take advantage. If you can, do two or three internships ... try different companies and things, learn something new ... that way when you graduate you will know what you want to do in the future," he said.