With UTEP graduation nearing, students are beginning to take the next step in their career by searching for jobs in their desired field, with places like the UTEP Career Center and Borderplex providing a helping hand.
The UTEP Career Center helps students prepare documents for employment, provides interview workshops and prepares students to engage with employers for job opportunities, career advising, as well as negotiating job offers.
According to Betsy Castro, director of the Career Center, the department helps students find jobs and internships as early as their first year at the university to the time they are about to graduate.
“We help students find on-campus jobs and work-study positions that are posted on our online portal called Job Mine,” Castro said. “We help students identify internships with employers, to helping them find professional jobs nearing their graduation date.”
Castro explained the type of jobs students look for variate, but the center typically sees more business and engineering majors. Liberal arts, education, nursing, physical and occupational therapy students are some of the other majors the center has assisted.
“We equally have liberal arts, education, nursing, physical and occupational therapy students,” Castro said. “We still talk to all the graduating classes, and we help them, because they may know how to get their first job, but do they know how to get their second job when they’re already out in the industry?”
Due the COVID-19 pandemic Castro said employment and internship opportunities are are still “slightly soft,” but the Career Center has seen more employers looking to hire students. According to Castro, the Career Center meets with different companies to see how many people they need or want to hire, which is why having experience in one’s desired field is important since it’s what most employers look for. Castro explained employers look to see if students have had an internship or an on-campus job for the desired field.
“We tell students, even when you are a freshman, you have to develop skills that are going to help you become more marketable down the line,” Castro said.
Borderplex is a local organization working hand in hand with companies wanting to expand or relocate in the borderland. Borderplex has brought companies to El Paso such as Amazon, ADT, and Prudential, among others.
According to Kassandra Huhn, vice president of workforce development and analytics, in the past, Borderplex has hosted presentations at UTEP to give students an overview of which industries are growing or what they are targeting, as well as what skills or soft skills students should have entering the workforce.
“We work off a strategic plan,” Huhn said. “For the strategic plan we have a couple of targeted industries that we are trying to help develop, including logistics, manufacturing, business services, life sciences, and defense in aerospace.”
Borderplex helped introduce Prudential to the borderland, which allowed the company to open a risk management academy at UTEP’s College of Business.
“When we talk with these companies, we always try to find a way they can engage on campus, this includes opening up an academy,” Huhn said. “In other cases, we’ve at least been able to make introductions to executives that we meet, so that can speak in classes about internships that they have available.”
This past year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some students have struggled to find jobs .
UTEP student Itzyiana Nuñez, is a junior graphic design major who got laid off from her job due to COVID-19, but said she saw the situation as sign to begin looking into something that will benefit her in the future.
“I have started to look for graphic design internships here in El Paso and outside of the city, and it has not been successful,” Nuñez said. “Although I know my professors and advisor could guide me in the right direction and help me with tips and how to better my portfolio, it is hard to communicate with everything being online.”
As for after she graduates, Nuñez plans to stay in El Paso, but has also thought about leaving the city.
“Graphic design is very beneficial since you can work with someone from outside of the city without meeting them,” Nuñez said. “If there is a better opportunity for me outside of this beautiful city, I will most likely take it.”
UTEP student Brianne Williams, is a junior journalism/ mass communication major with a minor in creative writing.
Williams currently works at Cinemark 20 and XD and Papaya at Cielo Vista Mall; she has been at Cinemark for two years and at Papaya for seven months.
“Juggling the two and school has been a bit of a challenge but I’m doing what I can to pay for school and my car,” Williams said. “I picked up the job at Papaya because hours were slow at Cinemark due to the pandemic, I applied everywhere—Target, Menchies, Bath & Body Works, and luckily Papaya called me back right away.”
Williams explains her dream career is to be a journalist for a newspaper, magazine, or blog. After she graduates, she plans to stay in El Paso.
“I love living in El Paso and hope to work for the El Paso Times! “Williams said. “I am hoping to intern with them sometime while attending UTEP.”
According to a 2016 report by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, employment in retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and public administration are higher in El Pas and lower in construction, finance, professional, and scientific and management, and services other than public administration. Meaning, El Paso has more jobs concentrated in traditionally low-wage industries and relatively fewer jobs in traditionally high-wage industries, forcing some El Pasoans to pursue their career endeavors outside the city.
Katrina Villarreal may be reached at [email protected].