Job seekers get glimpse of opportunities at Career Expo
By Gail Fagan and Roxanne Lerma Casares, Office of Public Affairs
(956) 665-2741
Posted: 09/28/2012
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Gabriel Escobedo, a junior majoring in computer engineering, said he appreciated the chance to get a look at his employment options when he attended the Career Expo Friday, Sept. 28 at The University of Texas-Pan American.

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Gabriel Escobedo (left), a UTPA student pursuing a computer engineering degree, is pictured talking to alumnus Ruben Dominguez (BS '03), an employee with ALPS Electric, about job opportunities at the company during UTPA's annual Career Expo.
Escobedo moved back to the Rio Grande Valley from Houston for just these types of job opportunities.

“I realized that here at UTPA I would get a good education but also get to network with these Fortune 500 companies that I didn’t see in Houston. I’ve been all over Texas for career fairs and I noticed that the great opportunities are here in the Valley,” Escobedo said.

The annual expo, organized by UTPA's Career Services, featured approximately 60 companies and government agencies looking for new employees. The organizations set up colorful displays, offered on-site interviews and handed out pens, food samples, bags and other gifts to encourage students to visit their booths and apply for internship and work opportunities.

Lourdes Servantes, Career Services director, said 1,500 students, alumni and members of the public were expected to attend the expo, which provides students with a great networking opportunity at one centralized location where they can learn what jobs and internships the companies have.

She said students also get to connect with the 25 or 30 alumni who come back to the expo to recruit for their companies.

"That's really good, especially the ones who are out of the area, because it gives students that picture of OK, this person came from my hometown, went through the same stages I went through and now they are here doing this," Servantes said.

Throughout the year, Career Services also offers students training on interviewing skills, résumé writing, networking and how to dress appropriately for an interview, among other services.

"Our students are dedicated and hard working. They also tend to have the best retention rates among the organizations," she said.

Alumna Citlalli Rojas (BBA '08) said she landed her dream job with New York Life Insurance Company and credits the University’s Career Services for her successful profession. She returned to recruit hopeful students and return the favor.

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During UTPA's annual fall Job Expo held in the University Fieldhouse, Marco Solis, a UTPA graduate with a degree in mass communications, is pictured talking to Juan Lamogliachinchilla, chief with the U.S. Navy, about job opportunities in that branch of the military service.
“I’m looking to help people launch their careers. Career Services helped me when I was here,” Rojas said. “Now I want to help them and help these students get ahead.”

Mizzi Montemayor (BBA '10) from Edinburg, a human resources specialist with Toyota since April 2011, also praised the help she received from Career Services as a student.

The staff assisted her in gaining an interview for a co-op opportunity with Toyota, where she was paid while receiving comprehensive training to enter the company's workforce. She also took advantage of the mock interviews and résumé reviews the office offered. She said she gained other valuable skills through her campus involvement, including participating in a sorority, LeaderShape Academy, and the National Hispanic Professionals Organization.

Montemayor said her company was seeking candidates to fill a human resource co-op and several in engineering for their 6-year-old San Antonio manufacturing facility, which employs approximately 2,800 people.

Toyota, which sponsored a Student/Employer Networking Social in the evening Sept. 27, has been impressed with the work ethic of the seven UTPA graduates they have employed at their San Antonio plant, Montemayor said. "They (UTPA alumni) ask how can I help the company. They are so willing and so giving," she said.

Alumnus Ruben Dominguez (BS '03) said it is extremely gratifying to return to his alma mater and help his fellow Broncs find employment with his company, ALPS Electric, a manufacturer for the Big Three automakers.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to come back and help UTPA and the students who are graduating because I remember when I was first out of school and it’s tough when you don’t know what your opportunities are,” said Dominguez, who earned his degree in electrical engineering. Natasha Del Barrio (BS '05, MBA '10), corporate strategist at Bert Ogden Rio Grande Valley, said this was the first trip to the expo by the familiar local company, which has 24 UTPA alumni among its more than 700 employees at its 15 franchises.

Del Barrio said the company was looking primarily for business program graduates but also for those with communications, advertising, public relations, IT or legal backgrounds. She said Bert Ogden hopes to have 50 UTPA alumni as employees by the end of 2013.

"UTPA has a significant talent pool and we have been so well supported by the Rio Grande Valley community that we just wanted to get more involved through education at the University level. We want the students to know we are interested in offering good jobs to college graduates," she said.

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UTPA alumna Mizzi Montemayor (BBA '10)(right), a human resources specialist at Toyota, helped a job seeker at her company's recruiting booth at the Career Expo held Sept. 29.
Two UTPA alumni were also manning the booth of Ferguson, a Wolseley company, another first-timer at the expo. Based in Virginia, Ferguson is one of nation's largest plumbing wholesalers as well as a leading distributor of pipes, valves, fitting, waterworks and heating and cooling equipment in North America.

Daniel Pedroza (BBA '09) from Edinburg and David Tobar (BBA '10) from Donna are both manager trainees with the company that employs approximately 18,000 people at more than 1,300 service centers, including two currently in the Rio Grande Valley. Pedroza said his company is fast growing, has a family-oriented culture and often promotes from within.

"If you are a sharp candidate you are going to go places pretty quick," said Pedroza, who hopes to move into operations or branch management.

Pedroza said the preparation he received from UTPA has served him well at Ferguson.

"While in class, you are never sure when you are going to use an operations model you are learning about. You wonder 'what am I going to use this for.' Now I use that every day in my job. Part of our graduation course was how to make a business plan and now we make those for each client," he said.

As he travelled from booth to booth, Rodrigo Araguz, a senior mechanical engineering student at UTPA from Donna, said he feels well prepared to fill an entry level position or an internship with some of the companies he talked to at the Expo, including Chevron, Halliburton, and Coca Cola.

"Our teachers are great. We have some of the best faculty in the Engineering Department, especially those who really care about you and really want to help you out," he said.

He said he was impressed with the Expo.

"It is great for the school to do this for us so we have a better chance to get a job," he said.

Visit the photo gallery to see more of the Career Expo.

To learn more about Career Services, go to their website.