HPGM: Campus Community Building Professional Connections

Listening to the three women leading the Mount Mary chapter of Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM), you’ll notice a common theme: each believes strongly in the power of relationships.

“I saw the need for students to build connections with professionals long before they walk across the stage (at graduation),” said Margaret Martinez, a second-year MBA graduate student and HPGM’s co-president.

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HPGM members at the 2015 summer kick-off

For new graduates starting out in the workforce, “getting a degree is only part of the battle, but its not a guarantee anymore,” Martinez said. “Oftentimes it is who you know.”

Martinez and Heather Thomas-Flores, HPGM co-president and 2015 MMU graduate, started Mount Mary’s HPGM chapter to help students transition to the professional world.

“The focus is really to help minority groups make it in the career that they’ve chosen,” Thomas Flores said, “(and) to make it in the professional world.”

Martinez and Thomas-Flores said membership in HPGM will enable students to make professional connections that will be an asset post-graduation.

“There will be dozens of candidates applying for the same job that you think you’re a ‘perfect fit’ for,” said Martinez. “What gives you that edge … is time you give back to your community by volunteering, attending networking events … That’s what hiring executives will remember.”

“Unfortunately, this generation of college students (is) coming into a very cutthroat and very competitive workforce,” said Martinez.

Building a network

At biweekly meetings, students report to the group any recently attended networking or career development events or workshops. They also share volunteer opportunities and scholarships and plan upcoming events.

“We like to share tips, resources or even the names of people (executives, recruiters) that we have met even outside of any organizational event,” said Martinez.

According to Zecilia Alamillo-Roman, Mount Mary HPGM chapter vice president and a junior majoring in social work, some professional relationships that HPGM members developed have led to corporate connections for the chapter.

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HPGM members at the 2015 summer kick-off

One HPGM member connected with Northwestern Mutual at a job fair and ultimately interned with the company. The affiliation led to Northwestern Mutual sponsoring HPGM’s summer kick-off event.

Several times a year HPGM also hosts “Connecciones”– workshops or networking events where members can build professional skills and connect with local professionals.

“It’s a great place for students to mingle …(and) be able to work on their elevator speech or however they want to introduce themselves,” Thomas-Flores said.

HPGM also helps students develop professional tools like business cards and resumes, Thomas-Flores said.

A campus community

Alamillo-Roman said as HPGM’s vice-president she has been able to connect with Mount Mary students through membership in HPGM.

“The whole point is to network,” Alamillo-Roman said. “One of the things that members have said before is that they like (that) even within our own chapter we get to network.”

Last year, the Mount Mary HPGM chapter recruited many freshman members. Membership is open to everyone.

“You do not have to be Hispanic to be part of it,” Alamillo-Roman said. “We include in our mission that (HPGM is) for minority students … and being a women alone is a minority.”

“The whole point is to network,” Alamillo-Roman said.

For more information or to join Mount Mary’s chapter of HPGM, contact Zecila Alamillo-Roman at alamillz@mtmary.edu.

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HPGM members at the 2015 summer kick-off

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