Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Buccaneer Empowerment Seminar Helps Students Prepare for Future

Mary Myers (left) and Verna Rivers (Right) were two of many speakers at the first ever Buccaneer Empowerment Seminar (BES) on the St. Thomas Campus

January 28, marked the first ever Buccaneer Empowerment Seminar (BES), a forum aimed to inform students of the dynamics of professional development.

The three-hour seminar took place on the University’s  – St. Thomas Campus. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Golden Key Honor Society, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Student Government Association (SGA), who were able to have experienced professionals from a number of different fields speak to UVI students.

Each presenter offered tips and advice from their own experiences. Topics ranged from how to dress for an interview to getting your first credit card. The seminar also included, an hour-long résumé workshop – a time where students could talk one-on-one with a career service counselor on ways in which they can restructure, or enhance the quality of their résumé.

Opening Ceremony

Patrice Harris talks about how to make
 a good first impression and how it can
 help you land a job.
The afternoon kicked off with Patrice Harris, the news director at WUVI – UVI’s student radio station. Harris said in the past, she has had to persuade bosses on why she should get a position, whether it is a full-time job or a summer internship. 

Harris then had a student (voluntarily) give her a 20-second speech introducing themselves and stating why they would be the best fit for their dream job.  After working with the student for about two minutes, the student developed a great 20-second speech. Harris said that making an introduction to an interviewer comes down to two key components: having confidence and being persuasive.

Harris also expressed how important it is to make a good first impression. She emphasized that in a tough job market you need to make sure you nail your interview and capitalize on every opportunity you get

Career Services and Résumé Fundamentals

Mary Myers, a programs specialist for UVI’s Provost’s office, and Verna Rivers, the dean of students at UVI, hosted the second speech of the day which was broken down into two parts. Part one focused on acing the interview and dressing the part, while the second half focused on building your résumé.

In the first half of the presentation, both mentioned that everyone should have a professional email and not have anything inappropriate or tasteless on social networking profiles. On the contrary, they mentioned how “Thank you” notes are a gesture that can increase your chances of landing a job.

Myers and Rivers also talked about what to wear for an interview. They both recounted experiences where interviewees have dressed inappropriately or they have features that draw the interviewers away from the substance of the conversation.

“You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression,” Rivers said, as she recounted interviewing someone with bad drawn-on eyebrows.

The second half of the presentation focused on re-tooling and improving one’s résumé. Rivers and Myers shared tips such as not putting your high school education information on your résumé if you are in college. Moreover, they said to make sure you are showing future employers the skills you gained, and not just summarizing the duties of your previous positions.

“I got a lot of great tips from both of them [Myers and Rivers]. I realized that there are definitely some things I need to change on my résumé,” said Mackenzie Lewis, an exchange student at UVI. 

Following the hour-long presentation was a résumé workshop, which allowed students to sit down with faculty members from career services to ask questions or fix problems on their résumés.

Students work one-on-one with professionals from career services on ways to fix their résumés.

Becoming an Entrepreneur

The third presenter of the day was Albert Richardson, who is currently a financial manager at Scotia Bank, but is a former entrepreneur. He spoke about finding startup money, risk management, insurance options and even dealing with landlords, and how well all those things correlate with owning a business.

“The things I am telling you today are things I learned on the street and through my experiences. These are not things you will learn in school,” Richardson said.

He reflected fondly on his days as a business owner, and he recommended it to anyone who is willing to work long hours and make sacrifices.

“At the end of the day when it comes to owning a business, you cannot doubt yourself. You have to believe in yourself and what you are doing, if you want to be successful,” Richardson said.

After the presentation, The UVI Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Association (UVIDEA) and the University Innovation Freshmen (UIF) sponsored a 30-minute event on generating and improving quick business pitches and ideas.

Creating a Financial Plan

Shayla Solomon, a projects coordinator at
Banco Popular, 
discusses steps students should take
now to plan for life after graduation.
Shayla Solomon, a Projects Coordinator at Banco Popular, rounded out the day with a presentation on financial planning. Solomon touched on how to open a checking account or a savings account, while also discussing terms such as APR, interests rates, and IRA’s and what they mean and how they affect personal finances. 

Solomon offered a number of tips on budgeting and how to build credit early in your life. She also assured students that credit cards are not a bad thing – if used properly.

“From this age, I want to make sure you are making smart financial decisions to help you in the future,” Solomon said.


Each presenter at the seminar shared experiences and tips that are sure to stick with students as they prepare for life after university. From strengthening résumés, to developing a financial plan, students were given valuable insight on what it takes to be successful in the outside world. 

The majority of the students at the event were members of the Golden Key Honor Society, the Student Government Association or the National Society of Black Engineers – the three organizations that put this event together. Next year, they are hoping the seminar will attract all students from UVI, so everyone can obtain guidance from professionals.

“I feel like all students would benefit from opportunities like this,” said Mary Myers from the UVI Provost’s Office. “There were some great speakers at this event.”
Students receive a certificate after staying for the three-hour-long seminar.

At the end of the conference, all those who attended the seminar were awarded certificates. One student in attendance was Lisa Marie-Hodge, a junior at UVI and a member of the UVI SGA.

“BES was a great event. I learned so much from all the speakers. I’m thankful that these three organizations were able to come together and create such an awesome conference. It proves that UVI cares about their students even after they graduate,” Hodge said.