By Katlin Cilliers | Staff Writer

Natsumi Yoshimura was dressed for the job she wanted in this 2018’s Job Fair at Kapi‘olani Community College. Sporting a neutrally toned skirt and a matching professional-looking blouse, the 25-year-old Liberal Arts major wandered among booths and exchanged contact information with talent recruiters from Banana Republic and The Street HNL.

“Of course I had to dress like a professional,” Yoshimura said. “… The class, they laughed at me, they’re like, ‘Why did she dress like that today?’”

Natsumi Yoshimura, a Liberal Arts major who wishes to work in hospitality, saw this Fall 2018 job fair as an opportunity to network with businesses on the island. (Photo by Katlin Cilliers)

Her classmates’ comments didn’t seem to bother Yoshimura, who attended the job fair with set goals.

“I came back to KCC because I wanted to make sure that I was really into hospitality,” she said. “Then, I wanted to challenge myself in the United States. I am Japanese. So, yeah, I met the one girl from Halekulani, Banana Republic, and the restaurant industry was amazing. They tell me, like, detailed, what they require and yeah, and they try to assist me.”

The Job Fair was held Thursday under a tent on the Great Lawn, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and was organized by KCC’s administration along with the college’s Employment Prep Center. Fifty-one employers had stands and informational material about job openings, as well as several treats, such as chocolate, candy bars, and promotional pens, for potential candidates. For this year’s event, the EPC gathered a wide range of companies from industries such as educational services, tourism and hospitality, health care, retail, and professional, scientific and technical services, offering hundreds of opportunities to students and the community.

A few minutes after 12 p.m., when most students were leaving their morning classes, traffic under the tent became heavier as students wandered among the booths, networking with companies, and reaching out for job application forms. Qiyan Lin, a pre-engineering major, was interested in an on-campus position, preferably as a librarian. To him, the job would be accommodating of his needs as a student.

“I saw the librarian, and they … do their homework while working there, which is fantastic for them to like … do homework and study while working,” Lin said.

Lisa Tupou, the store trainer at Don Quijote, pointed at the sign placed on her stand; it had a list of all entry-level opportunities that are currently being offered by the supermarket chain. Tupou was one of the employers willing to have interviews on the spot, both at the fair but also in a walk-in basis at the store with those interested.

KCC students embraced the chance to network with potential employers and get a sense of what the job market looks like, in terms of marketing themselves, learning about job requirements and salaries.

Michell Hijirida, a 22-year-old Culinary major, hopes to partner up in his own restaurant with his classmate, Jiaxiong Wu, in the future. But both acknowledged the need to get some experience prior to setting off on their own endeavor.

Jiaxiong Wu (left) and Michell Hijirida (right) are Culinary majors who hope to get some experience both at KCC and in the food service industry before venturing off on their own business. (Photo by Katlin Cilliers)

“Ideally, I’d like to work up to cook, but right now I don’t have the experience that I need,” Hijirida said. “… To [work as a] prep [cook], probably. I’m ready for that. Also, I’m getting my experience here on campus, too. It’s given me some ideas.”

Throughout the fair, music was played and several prizes were given to engage students, who were encouraged to check in at the Employment Prep Center’s stand and provide feedback on the Job Fair after attending it. Yoshimura herself raved about this year’s job fair and deemed it successful.

“This is amazing, like. Right now, it’s kind of hard to find out opportunity,” Yoshimura said. “[Looking for jobs by] myself, on the Internet, Google … and so the college give us this, such amazing opportunity with all other people [and] with another companies, this is amazing.”