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Students Navigate Success at the 2024 Asia Pacific Career Conference

APCC Career Fair
The Career Fair during the APCC 2024.

This year's Asia Pacific Career Conference (APCC), themed "Navigating Success: Empowering Students in their Educational Voyages," embodied the mission of the event to equip students with the tools and resources necessary for their professional journeys beyond Brigham Young University–Hawaii.

Every year, the conference aims to foster students' professional development and provide invaluable exposure to international organizations through workshops, networking opportunities, and interactive sessions. Additionally, the conference seeks to broaden the university's reach and enhance graduates' access to sustainable and diverse employment opportunities by facilitating connections between students and global employers.

Kicking off the event as the keynote speaker, Dan Te Whenua Walker, related his upbringing, culture, and work experience in Aotearoa, New Zealand, to his presentation.

Dan Walker
Dan Walker during his keynote address at the APCC 2024.

As co-chair of indigenous at Microsoft, Walker works to empower indigenous communities globally, bridging the gap between traditional wisdom and contemporary technology for sustainable intergenerational change.

During his address, Walker introduced the principle of "Culturising Commerce" and the power of indigenous inclusion in global innovation. Drawing from over 15 years of dedicated service to his iwi tribe Ngāti Ruanui and guided by the wisdom imparted by his whanau, elders, and tribal teachers, Walker has emerged as a staunch advocate for the universal relevance of indigenous knowledge. His deep-rooted belief in the accessibility and importance of indigenous wisdom is reflected in his academic pursuits, including a master's degree focused on tikanga Māori ki te ao matihiko, which explores Māori values as a framework for digital leadership.

Walker's focus on indigenous peoples and push for more cultural representation in industries and companies that tend to dominate commerce set the stage for the conference. His address gave students the confidence and vision to see themselves and their cultural beliefs strive for and excel in any professional space.

Each year, companies representing various industries gather on campus to meet with BYUH students. They aim to connect with and hear how these students' unique experiences and skills can benefit their businesses. Since 2018, with the first Asia Pacific Career Conference, over 800 jobs and internship opportunities have been created via the conference across Oceania, Asia, and the United States. Each year, that number grows, and students are blessed through the growth and exposure these guests help facilitate.

Students speaking to an APCC guest at the Career Fair.
Students meeting company representatives at the Career Fair at the APCC 2024.

Vaine Tameifuna, a senior majoring in social work, shared her takeaways from the conference, saying she attended the career fair to build her networking skills and social circle. Once inside, the Australian native shared, "I felt proud to see more companies and government entities from the islands represented at APCC." Not only did the event help her build more confidence and hope for future career options, but she was even offered an internship in Tonga at Liahona High School.

Students were given time and opportunities to make meaningful connections and practice essential networking skills throughout the conference. But even more student involvement took place behind the scenes.

On the first day, student employees at the Polynesian Cultural Center were given the chance to demonstrate the world-class skills they put to use each day working at Hawaii's number one paid tourist attraction. APCC guests got close and personal with the day-to-day events that transpire at work while student employees demonstrated they were there to help fund their education and develop themselves professionally.

PCC student employee meeting with APCC guests.
PCC student employee meeting with APCC guests during behind-the-scenes tour.

Additionally, student employees within the Career Services department also played a crucial role in the success of the three-day conference. Taking on significant roles in the conference's planning, logistics, marketing, and outcome is a challenging feat while balancing school and other responsibilities. Yet, each year, the Career Services team and hosting Ho'okele department make it a memorable experience for all involved.

Mark Drasbek, a senior from Washington D.C. majoring in business, commented how his employment in Career Services has developed more profound gratitude for the university and its committed staff. Drasbek shares, "I've come to better appreciate the university for investing time and resources into attracting potential employers to campus. It shows how dedicated the staff and faculty at this institution are and that they genuinely care about our well-being and post-graduate success. I'm really happy to be a part of this team."

At the week's conclusion, visiting guests have begun returning home, yet students continue to think about the potential of their futures. The Asia Pacific Career Conference has been an excellent opportunity for career aspirations to grow and take tangible steps toward becoming a reality.