PEARL HARBOR (June 17, 2011) Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Fleet headquarters Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) employees of for a group photo. Walsh met with the students to discuss the Pacific Fleet mission, and the value of work experience in the headquarters environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialists 2nd Class Patrick Murray)

PEARL HARBOR — The commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) met with students from the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) June 17, to talk about the mission and strategy of PACFLT as well as the value of gaining work experience in the fleet.

Encompassing over 100 million miles and employing over 125,000 Sailors, Marines and civilians, Pacific Fleet is the world’s largest fleet command. The meeting with Adm. Patrick M. Walsh gave the summer hires an opportunity to learn about PACFLT operations beyond their assigned directorates.

PACFLT headquarters has used the STEP over the last six years. The program provides Federal employment opportunities to students age 16 and up who are enrolled in an accredited high school, technical, vocational, college or university. STEP hired 15 students for 2011 summer employment at the GS-3 level, including six students returning for their second summer.

Walsh began the meeting by discussing the steps PACFLT takes to support the Navy’s maritime strategy.

“By looking at history and at current trends, we can find the challenges that are influencing the Asia-Pacific today,” said Walsh. “We also recognize the opportunities, and create our strategy based on an alignment of policy, focus, and resources.”

As an example, Walsh spoke about Operation Tomodachi, a disaster relief effort that supported Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Ninety members of the PACFLT staff, including the admiral, deployed to Yokota, Japan, to lead the U.S. military’s support of the government of Japan with humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Walsh also emphasized PACFLT’s constant efforts to maintain a ready fleet and sustainable operating framework.

“The challenge for us is ensuring that we stay relevant, impactful and consequential to the people in the region,” said Walsh. “We are constantly tailoring the fleet and our concept of operations.”

The admiral closed the meeting by expressing his wish that the students take their experiences at the headquarters and apply them to their future paths.

“These experiences that you have working here will stay with you for a long time,” Walsh said. “There will be people you’ll meet that will leave a lasting impression on you. Take a few notes along the way to remind yourself what you learned during your time with us.”

The students offered their impressions of the discussion.

“Working as a student hire has been an incredible experience,” said Shaun Umeda, 19, a student at Leeward Community College who worked in U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Force Manpower & Personnel directorate. “I’ve helped those I work with learn from me, and I’ve also learned from them and gained skills that will benefit me throughout the years to come.”

“I thought the meeting with the admiral was very informative and insightful,” said Alex Jones, 21, a student at James Madison University who also worked in the Force Manpower & Personnel directorate. “I could definitely see myself working for PACFLT or the Navy in the future.”

STEP was first established as part of the Student Educational Employment Program in December 1994. Duties for the STEP summer hires at U.S. Pacific Fleet encompass a variety of office automation work such as word processing, filing, scanning, spreadsheets, desktop publishing, etc. Students applied through an announcement posted early in the year for employment during the summer months and throughout the year.

Malia Schilling, a student from the University of Southern California, is a current STEP employee working for her second summer in U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs with social media and community outreach.