Chaminade Alumni Find Work During Global Pandemic


Michael Jenkins

Ho’āno Rosario a Spring 2020 graduate, earned his degree in Environmental Science and Environmental Studies poses in his work uniform.

With the job market low of options, recent graduates are scrambling to find internships and jobs.  A few Chaminade University graduates from this 2020 spring share how they were able to find jobs during this pandemic.

2020 graduates are entering the worst job market since the Great Depression, according to CNN Business. Hawaii is not all that better on the job market. According to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations on Sept. 17, there were 287,361 claims filed statewide, and of those 287,361 claims that were filed, 176,750 were paid.

For 21-year-old alumna Sofia Vela, she had returned to her family home in Nebraska a few weeks after classes went online and has been back in Honolulu since July 31. This was just the start of her journey after leaving Chaminade. In early July, three weeks before returning to Hawaii, she was already on the hunt, and applying for job positions.

“I’ve probably applied to at least 20 jobs and only one has like really gotten back to me,” Vela said on Sept. 2. “I’ve had a couple interviews here and there, and at this point, I’m just trying to pick up anything I can to make some money.”

Vela had earned her degree in Communications, and after applying to various jobs and going through several interviews, she was offered a part-time position at EbiNomi as a server. She also interviewed on Sept. 25  for a nanny position and is now in the hiring process. Vela has advice for up and coming graduating students and students who are looking for a job.

“I did feel a little bit discouraged for a while,” Vela said. “But I think it’s just trusting that what needs to happen is happening for you and not getting down on yourself.”

Alexander Ngum, a 21-year-old from Kaneohe, stepped down from his job in the daycare at a gym in February because he was swamped with schoolwork. That temporary leave became permanent when Covid hit in March. But he had also worked in construction as a side job and was able to rely on that.

“I wasn’t worried,” Ngum said. “I had the construction job lined up prior. It was kind of a side job, then it became my main job. I would just have to worry about finding a job because if we finished one then we we’re out of work until another job pops up.  But I chose not to apply anywhere else because I didn’t want to work anywhere I would have to have a lot of contact with random people.”

Ngum earned his degree in Criminal Justice. He wants to join the Honolulu Police Department, but he had to wait until everything opened up again for HPD to start conducting entrance exams again.

Ngum applied to the Honolulu Police Department in the last week of August, but with the state stay-at-home order in place he would have to wait for his chance to take the test. He was finally able to take the exam the last week of September.

Ngum’s advice he gave for all students and graduates that are currently looking to enter the work field.

“I’d say just get on it and don’t hesitate to apply for any positions or job that you’re interested in because if you hesitate and it’s available, you might regret it and might close off and you might lose your chance,” Ngum said. “If you take the chance and you know your heart is telling you to jump into it, jump into it. If you feel like you shouldn’t then go with your gut feeling. But overall just don’t hesitate.”

Ho’āno Rosario, a 21-year-old, was hired in mid April to be an environmental technician at ENPRO Environmental, which allowed him to work during the pandemic. His essential job consist of testing buildings or homes for asbestos, mold, led and other materials as well as testing the environment, like water.

“So for the last couple of weeks of the semester I had to juggle school work/finals and my new job,” Rosario said. “I’m very blessed that they hired me because I technically wasn’t qualified without my degree.”

Rosario applied for not only one job but two along with unpaid internships.

“I applied for two other jobs and three internships,” Rosario said. “The two jobs were not in my major at all. I was was just looking for a job. The three internships were in my major but unpaid, and I would’ve had to apply to the Chaminade internship program that would pay me to do an unpaid internship.”

Like many, Rosario had a hard time finding a job with in his field of major because there are many requirements for each job that you apply to. Not only that, but because graduates lack the experience in the field, it makes finding a job even tougher.

“It’s pretty hard to find a job in my major because a lot of the jobs that were available, I needed experience, not just a degree,” Rosario said. “Even though I had experience from internships,  it wasn’t enough, which was disappointing.”

He advised students to be proactive in their job searches.

“Just keep looking,” he said. “I mean it’s extremely difficult, I was … very fortunate to find something but you know that there are jobs out there, you just have to keep digging.”