The organization Business & Professional Women (BPW) of Pago Pago collaborated with the Business Department at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) to present the lunchtime seminar “Make That Job Yours!” on Thursday, February 21st. ASCC Business majors and other students, along with guests from the community, filled the College’s Multi-Purpose Center auditorium to hear three local experts on the topic of hiring share their insights on how potential employees can get the most out of the job application process. The event was co-sponsored by the student club Business Ambassadors of ASCC (BAOA), whose members came dressed in impressive professional attire that reflected their commitment to quality performance in the workplace.
Everyone in attendance received a pleasant surprise when American Samoa Congresswoman Aumua Amata attended the event to show her support. Invited to give opening remarks, Amata talked about her own first job. As a young woman growing up in Hawaii, her first employment was on the overnight shift at the Dole Pineapple Cannery. While cleaning pineapples hardly foreshadowed her future career in Congress, Amata said that the job taught her how to be a responsible employee, and gave her the confidence in her own abilities to aspire to greater things. She ended her brief address by wishing the future professionals in the audience good luck with their careers and encouraging them to take careful note of the insights to be shared by the other speakers.
Next, guest Salamasina Satele, Acting Human Resources Manager with the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), shared with the audience the advantages of an applicant researching his/her potential employer prior to a job interview. To illustrate how an applicant makes a better impression when he/she has “done their homework”, Satele asked for three volunteers from the audience. One by one (with them unable to hear each other’s answers) she asked, first, what are the four services ASPA provides, and second, what was the most recent news on the local media about ASPA? None could name all four of ASPA’s services, while only two had heard the recent news about water quality. This clearly illustrated how if an applicant displays a lack of knowledge about a potential employer, this gives an impression of indifference about them, which can work against the applicant.
Lisa Gebauer, Director of Human Resources at Bluesky Communications then talked ways for applicants to make their resumes stand out. When she asked the audience how long they think most employers actually look over a resume in detail, it shocked some of them to learn that unless something grabs their attention, employers typically scan a resume for less than a minute. Therefore, said Gebauer, a resume should include only the applicant’s most relevant personal and professional information, in an easy-to-read format. If put together in the right way, a resume creates a positive impression of an applicant even before a face-to-face meeting with an employer takes place, while a resume put together in a careless or unprofessional manner can do the opposite.
For the final phase of the seminar, Nadine Solofa-Taufa’asau, Store Manager of Neil’s ACE Home Center, shared her perspective on how best to approach a job interview. She stressed that the interview gives the applicant a chance to show their potential employer what they would be like on the job. Timeliness, good manners, and demonstrating a willingness to adapt always create a good impression, while the opposite sends proverbial red flags that an applicant will not be an asset to an employer. Solofa-Taufa’asau also reminded the audience that even when being interviewed for a hands-on, labor-oriented position, they should still dress professionally. Even though “work clothes” may be appropriate for the job itself, when someone dresses professionally for an interview, this indicates their level of commitment.
All three presenters received an enthusiastic response from the audience, and afterwards many students took the opportunity to meet the speakers or seek more information about BPW Pago Pago. The organization’s President, Merrilee May of May Associates Accounting Services, said she considered the event a great success. “This seminar was prepared specifically for the ASCC students,” she explained. “We want to help to prepare them for the next step after completing ASCC - getting their first job. The professionals who graciously took time out of their busy schedules to speak represent three large employers in American Samoa and come with many years of experience hiring employees for their companies. “
May said the organization would like to have more collaborations with the ASCC Business Department and BAOA to present more events like the seminar. Anyone who would like to learn more about BPW – Pago Pago can find their official pages on Facebook, reach them by phone at 699-5489, or email them at bpwpago.event@gmail. com.