UTPB gets proactive on careers

University of Texas Permian Basin, 4901 E University Blvd, Odessa, TX 79762. (Odessa American File Photo)

University of Texas Permian Basin offers a variety of resources to help students prepare for interviews and the workforce from a Career Closet to Career Champions.

The Career Champions program has been in place for about a year.

“We saw a lot of students looking for industry advice, and we’re also looking to get our partners involved. We want our students to have the latest and greatest information. While we do a really great job of staying on top of trends and workforce needs, we serve all of campus and so what better way then to go directly to industry professionals so we just brought them in. Then the program developed and we’ve just added to it … We live in a very blessed community that a lot of partners’ employers want to be involved in helping students achieve their professional goals,” Director of Internships and Employer Relations Megan Baeza said.

It also helps companies connect with talent early on.

“There is a plus side to being a champion, too. Get on campus and get to meet with students, identify talent and create those conversations really early on,” Baeza said.

Many faculty members also have participated in the Career Champions program.

“We have a dedicated careers page online. We feature spotlights of different people. One of our latest ones, Clark Moreland, he gave a financial donation for the Career Closet so we can buy new clothing in some of the sizes that we don’t already have. He also partnered with us to have industry professionals come into his writing class and speak on how writing is important in the workplace. They were able to hear from journalists, engineers and doctors on the importance of writing and communication in the classroom. We have lots of Career Champions, even here at the university — faculty and staff that are really just career-minded and want to, again, support students’ career goals,” Baeza said.

The Clothing Closet has professional attire students can wear for interviews and keep, like suits and ties. Companies, alumni and community partners donate the items.

All of these things are adding value to help students in their future career, Baeza said.

Megan Baeza

“I think that these are pretty innovative. We’ve seen some other career centers do this same type of approach. But I love it. I love that all hands on deck. You know, there’s a motto of career everywhere. That it’s really everyone thinking about career, where it fits in — athletics, in band and in student government, in the classroom, that all of these things are adding value to really help the students in their future career,” she added.

As the word has gotten out, employers are starting to come to UTPB to get engaged, ramp up their recruiting and start internship programs.

Awards called the Freddys are bestowed for a variety of achievements including highlighting student engagement around campus.

The Career Center also awards a Career Champion that goes to a faculty, staff or community member for their participation this last year.

There is an intern of the year which is voted on by the intern’s supervisors. At the State of the University, Baeza mentioned that a call was put out to people who are hosting interns to let UTPB know and they could be nominated for Intern of the Year.

“We had a partner of a large CPA firm locally submit their nomination before April 15 and I thought how wonderful that this student has made such an impression that they felt like they needed to build in time just to showcase and nominate the student’s work. I thought that was really exciting and it just shows how how much employers are invested in careers, student success and internships,” Baeza said.

Winners get a plaque that has their name engraved on it for Intern of the Year. She added that semester, they put a call out to students to report their internships and get a Falcon Hired T-shirt.

“We want to know how we can support you in your career journey. … Southwest Bank across the street has two finance interns this summer, but we also have a finance student that is going to Delaware to intern with JPMorgan Chase. Internships are happening anywhere, everywhere, and we love it,” Baeza said.

The Career Center has an online job board called Handshake that connects students with career opportunities so their partners post jobs on there, and then marketing those roles to students.

“Before they apply, we’re also helping with one-on-one coaching with their resume, interview prep, professional attire to wear to the interview. So a lot of professional and career development happening prior to that and maybe even sometimes after that, whether that’s a second interview or follow-up with a thank-you note or things like that. We have lots of resources and again, one-on-one coaching that we’re doing with students to help them connect with these internships,” Baeza said.

She added that they want students to have a competitive advantage so they can make a positive impression of themselves.

“It’s just coaching. What is the process? How can I do this? What are best practices, and that’s where we come in and provide those resources,” Baeza said.

For more information, visit careers.utpb.edu