For 4,367 students this fall, the University of Hawaii Maui College lays a foundation of academics, technical knowledge, critical thinking skills and other learning outcomes that represent "education." But the college's role in Maui County also involves a mission of work-force readiness - awarding degrees and certificates to graduates who are prepared to function as employees and entrepreneurs.
In helping to fine-tune the students' skills and knowledge, the Cooperative Education and Workforce Readiness Center will morph to include graduate employment services. This combination of career shadowing, co-op placement and internship services will leverage student degrees to prepare graduates to compete in the job market. They will reinforce the essentials of adding value to any business, agency or organization that they may seek. Increasing value and productivity may come from more responsive customer service, reducing or eliminating waste, looking to address old problems or meet new needs, and possibly reducing the costs of doing business through a sustainable approach to getting services provided and products out the door. Additionally, business ethics, workplace safety and standards of conduct in dealing with issues such as sexual harassment, personal relations and client confidentiality are included in our graduate portfolios.
Work-force readiness is a functional goal of all of the departments at the college. Currently, the graduate employment readiness strategy includes the Internships & Workforce Readiness Center in Ka Lama 207, providing weekly seminars on workplace issues and developing partnerships with business and industry on Maui for paid and unpaid internships that provide work experience and can be stepping stones to employment in any industry.
During the fall 2010 semester, the co-op placed 41 students in internships. The number of internships available each semester varies depending on needs of employers but also on the goals of students signing up for co-op assistance. Several UH-Maui College academic departments, such as the Maui Culinary Academy, Sustainable Construction Technology and Hospitality & Tour-ism, collaborate with industry partners to provide internships separate from co-op programs.
For students enrolled in a number of other academic majors the co-op is a necessary step. Students are assisted with placement in positions in their career fields, providing them with real-world work experience while they earn course credit, build their resumes and develop confidence in their abilities. Those already working in their chosen fields can earn course credit for a semester of internship with their employer. The portfolio that students maintain through their participation in Co-op and internship programs will prepare them to compete for positions. The program includes seminars on writing resumes, job application processes, preparing for job interviews and other support. Co-op services also help students assess their career choices, provide direction on steps students need to take to achieve their goals, mentorships on career decisions, information on job and career fairs and job placement listings. Information on co-op services can be found on a link from the UH-Maui College site at www.maui.hawaii.edu/coop/.
Any UHMC student is eligible for assistance from co-op staff. The co-op maintains a listing of job postings in the community around Maui County and includes links with the University of Hawaii Student Employment and Cooperative Education project to post recruitment announcements from employers.
* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka'ana Mana'o, which means "sharing thoughts," is scheduled to appear on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is penned by UH Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.