Students expand horizons at career fair


Photo by Alyssa Urayanza

Sophomore Lily Gavagan the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens booth during the 2015 Career Fair. This was one of more than 30 live exhibits in the gym expo, held as part of an entire school day focused on careers.

Most Kamehameha Maui students felt that the 2015 Career Day was worthwhile. In a student survey,  3/5 of the more than 400 students who completed the survey  “strongly agreed” that Career Day was interesting and worth attending, and a little more than that  “strongly agreed” that they gained important and useful information and insights that will help them with career decision making and preparation.

During the event held on Wednesday, Nov. 25, students explored different career paths in the form of speakers, workshops, and an exposition held in the high school gym.

The fair was planned and organized by Ms. Priscilla Mikell, KSM internship counselor, and a Career Day Committee.

“The basic objective of Career Day was to provide information that will help students with decision-making and preparation for their future career choices,” Ms. Mikell said.

“It was also intended to introduce freshmen and sophomores to the wide range of career options to help them decide on a career endorsement they will enroll in during their junior and senior years here at Kamehameha,” she said.

The students assembled in Keōpūolani Hale that Wednesday morning to hear from the opening guest speaker, Erlinda Rosario. Ms. Rosario owns most of the McDonald’s franchises on Maui, and she shared with the students her journey from a McDonald’s employee to a multi-franchise owner. She encouraged students to strive to be their best and always plan ahead.

Following the morning assembly, students attended two of 28 different career sessions. Prior to the career fair, students had taken an online survey wherein they indicated the top seven sessions they would like to attend. The different sessions included: Acting and Performing Arts, Airline Industry, Architecture, Baking and Culinary Arts, Building and Construction Trades, Business Management, Child and Family Services, Counseling and Mental Health Services, Education, Emergency Medical Response, Electrical Energy Production, Engineering, Environmental-Land, Plant and Wildlife, Environmental-Marine/Ocean, Film and Videography, From KSM to Careers, Graphic Design, Hawaiian Language and Culture, Hawaiian Music, Information Technology, Interior Design, Nursing, Photography, Physical Fitness and Training, Physical Therapy, Physicians, Public Safety, and Writing Careers.

Student input help shape those offerings. Prior to this, they had taken a different survey to indicate all careers they were interested in. The planning committee considered their suggestions and survey responses as  they narrowed down the careers to be featured, the presenters, and the assignment of students to presentations.

“Probably the most challenging aspect of putting Career Day together was deciding which careers to feature and which members of the community, businesses and organizations to invite as speakers and/or exhibitors,” Ms. Mikell said.

According to Ms. Mikell, the actual process of assigning students was also “difficult and time consuming.” The committee had tried to put each student into at least one of their top three choices; however, some students did not take the survey and had to be placed randomly into open sessions.

The committee also had to schedule for the use of classrooms during the event and set up the gym for the exhibitors.

“We are indebted to Jason Kane, Ed Torres and their custodial staff who worked Tuesday night to set up the gym and then cleaned up after the event was over,” Ms. Mikell said.

According to her, some of the vendors and exhibitors who have participated in career fair events elsewhere said that the set-up for the fair was “the best they’ve experienced.”

The logistics of such a huge event also involved the security staff, regulated the traffic of over 200 vendors and exhibitors.

Junior Kupono Aguirre chose Education as one of his two sessions with speakers Elaine Yamashita from the University of Hawai’i Maui College-Early Childhood Education and Lori Yatsushiro who is the principal at Waihe’e Elementary School.

“We encourage thinking and creativity,” Yamashita said.

To prove that, the two had an activity ready to go when students first walked into the classroom. The students found two medium-sized balls of Playdoh, each a different color. They were then told to play with the dough and to make whatever they wanted. Yamashita explained that in school, they encourage students to create different things to get their creative minds working.

“The one thing that I take away from this is that teaching needs to come from the heart,” Kupono Aguirre said. “You need to be passionate.”

After the two sessions, students were sent to the high school gym where rows of career booths lined the walls and spilled out onto the front walkway, where a fire engine was available for tours.

Each booth represented a different career path, including varied fields such as radiology, environmental science, agriculture, and police work. Many of the booths had interactive displays that got students engaged, and they had the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about each career in a one-on-one situation. Many also came away with freebies, such as the Hawaiian salt brownies at one of the culinary booths.

Isaac Bancaco, Maui Chef of the Year in 2014, said that it’s important for students to start thinking about careers early, when they are passionate and ready to learn.

“The harder we work now, the easier it will be when we’re [older],” Chef Bancaco said. He is currently the executive chef at Andaz Maui Resort in Wailea.

The day ended with a closing assembly in Keōpūolani with guest speaker Alaka’i Paleka, Kamehameha Kapālama alumna and program director and morning drive disc jockey at KPOA Radio.

After Ms. Paleka’s closing remarks, alumnus and committee member Jordan Saribay [’09] called out the winners of the day’s prize drawings.

There were many prizes, including gift packages and gift cards in small amounts, but the big prizes of the day were $100 gift cards to iTunes and to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Shopping Center. Senior Keola Paredes got the shopping spree, and sophomore Kiana Nagasako won the music card.

“There’s always room for improvement in every aspect of Career Day,” Ms. Mikell said. She said that many students wanted more workshops than the two they were allotted this year.

As for whether on not Career Day becomes an annual event, that is something that the administration, faculty, and staff have to discuss. The last full-blown Career Day was about ten years ago.

“My personal hope is that Career Day helped students to recognize the many career possibilities available to them and that by setting a goal and the willingness to work and do what is necessary, it is possible to achieve their career success and satisfaction,” Ms. Mikell said.

The Career Day committee was made up of Aunty Andie Simon, Kumu Anu Dooge, Ms. Francine Fujiwara, Po’o Kula Jay-R Kaawa, Mr. Jordan Saribay, Ms. Kato Moala, Ms. Nalani Kaaa, Ms. Naomi Ashman, and Aunty Venus Medeiros-Rosete.