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Fair connects local tech firms with kama‘aina talent.

By Staff | Jan 14, 2010

The Holiday Career Fair offers applicants a chance to meet top science and technology personnel and discuss their qualifications. At the same time, Maui-based companies can relay the latest job information and recruit Hawaii students and former residents who come home for the holidays.

KIHEI — Maui Economic Development Board’s eighth annual HighTechMaui Holiday Career Fair provided hopeful job seekers with information about what it takes to qualify for their career choices. 

Leslie Wilkins, program director for the MEDB Women in Technology project, noted that more than 230 applicants turned out for the post-Christmas Career Fair and were able to meet firsthand with technology employers on Maui. 

“Our goal is to connect local companies with kama‘aina talent. The career fair has proven to be a successful strategy in achieving that goal,” she said. 

The annual career fair is scheduled during the Christmas season to offer an opportunity for Maui students and former residents coming home for the holidays to connect with Maui-based technology companies seeking professionals, technicians and interns to fill positions. This year’s event was held Dec. 28 at Ke Alahele (the MEDB center) at the Maui Research & Technology Park.

The fair is one of several projects supported by Maui Economic Development Board to connect qualified Maui residents with island employers in need of workers with training or experience in science, technology, engineering and math fields. 

Lianne Yoshida, human resources manager for the Maui High Performance Computing Center, said the MHPCC had an open position and a number of internships available for students nearing graduation. 

Lockheed Martin Senior Business Development representative Michele Sauer said internships provide a significant opportunity for college juniors and seniors to gain

experience in their career fields.

“It’s a try-before-you-buy on both sides. You learn whether this is the kind of work you want to do; we learn whether you have the technical capabilities we need,” Sauer said.

Given the soft economy, there were not as many jobs to fill, but even those who found nothing immediately available said they now understand what they need to do to qualify for positions.  

Boeing Site Coordinator Jerry Cornell said the company’s Hawaii operations will utilize a range of skill sets, from technicians and operations specialists to physicists.

Cornell had high expectations for students attending the University of Hawaii-Maui Community College, noting that the UH-MCC campus is preparing to offer a four-year Bachelor of Applied Sciences Degree in Engineering Technology, emphasizing application over theory. The degree program will be offered beginning in fall 2010. 

“It will provide students with the knowledge they need to do the work, although it will be very math intensive,” he said.    

“We’re very excited about the prospects of being able to hire students out of the program. We expect their students are going to be very competitive.” 

Future job seeker Jena Miller, a freshman majoring in industrial engineering at California Polytechnic University, learned there were plenty of options among the companies at the career fair. 

The Holiday Career Fair is sponsored by MEDB’s Women in Technology Project, Kama‘aina Careers and The Maui News, with support from the County of Maui and U.S. Department of Labor.

For information, visit www.medb.org.