With men dressed in suits and ties and women wearing pencil skirts, students carried business cards and resumes as they met with more than 50 employers and graduate schools at the Asia-Pacific Career Conference (APCC) Domestic Career Fair in the Aloha Center Ballroom on March 5. Those in attendance said the event was a good opportunity for students to network with employers and learn how to market themselves.
As he gave out pens, candy, and sunglasses, Hawaii District Manager for Sherwin-Williams Brennen Olsen, from Ewa Beach, said, “It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn to talk to [professionals] and learn to market [themselves] so they can land the best position possible.” Olsen brought up his excitement for the high-caliber students he was expecting to meet at the fair.
Representing HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union, Kim Dodson shared her pamphlet of available positions and her excitement for the opportunity she sees the students have to build their professional network. She said, “You never really know who you’re going to meet or how it’s going to connect.”
She said networking events like this give students “much more confidence when you’re sitting across from them in a [job] interview.” Dodson talked about her company’s effort in networking will lead it to new opportunities in the future.
Students said the event was a chance to expand their horizons as they met with employers. Equipped with her red APCC-certified lanyard and volunteer ambassador badge, Emily Reid, a senior from Washington studying communications, said it was an opportunity to explore her future career options.
Reid said, “Even if I don’t find exactly what job I want in the future through this, I get to see where my options are, and I get to meet people who introduce me to them.” Reid said even if she did not walk out of the fair with an internship or a new job, she still would have made valuable connections potentially benefiting her future.
Having coordinated the event, J Smith, a senior from Virginia studying peacebuilding and business management, shared the goal of the fair was to provide BYUH students and recruiters with diverse potential for their futures.
He said one criteria for the companies to be invited to the event was to be fully available to students while they were in Hawaii. “They [need] to offer internships and job opportunities for students, and we wanted to have [recruiters] that represented our student body.”
Smith described how the recruiters wanted to match with the unique needs of BYUH students. He said it is a “diverse university both in culture and language and background,” and employers would benefit from exposure to the students.
Employers stated how impressed they have been with BYUH students in attendance, which is what made them excited to attend. There were more than 50 recruiters invited to speak, and a large portion said they attended the conference previously. Olsen shared many of the students he has met through the fair would be great additions to his team. “They represent themselves well.”
Despite having a banner hanging in front of the Flag Circle and posters on bulletin boards, Reid said the Domestic Career Fair should be more widely advertised next year because of how great of an opportunity it is.
She said it is a great thing for students who are graduating in the upcoming months, or if their graduation is two or more years away. “This is somewhere that they can find internships and they can find things that they want to do after they graduate.”
Throughout the three-hour period with upbeat music playing overhead, students had the chance to not only connect with recruiters, but also set up informational interviews. Smith said they encouraged students to set up these interviews with people in the industry as they are one of the best ways to network and prepare for the job they want in the future.
An informational interview is a meeting where students or potential employees ask questions. Smith said it was important to go to the fair with a goal, to set up an interview, and ask “them about what they do and how they got to where they’re at.”
Dodson said doing things that expand your network, like informational interviews, at events such as this are important. She said, “It’s a nice, safe environment to start developing those relationships.”
Reid and Smith were both certified for the APCC with Alumni & Career Services, and recommended students attending the fair in the future to get certified as well. APCC-certified students received early access to the career fairs, name tags and red lanyards to set them apart.
Reid said it shows the employers that students have more experience in presenting themselves and what they would like to do. She also explained how through the certification process, students are able to perfect their resumes, practice interviewing and prepare to meet potential employers.
Smith said being certified makes a student look more professional, especially if they have done research on the companies they speak to throughout the fair.