PEARL HARBOR (NNS) - Admiral Patrick Walsh, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, met with students from the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) July 20, to talk about the importance of higher education and work experience.

STEP was first established in December 1994 along with the Student Career Experience Program, as part of the Student Educational Employment Program. The program provides Federal employment opportunities to students who are enrolled in an accredited high school, technical, vocational, college or university, and who are at least 16 years of age at the time of employment. U.S. Pacific Fleet Headquarters has actively used the STEP over the last five years and this year hired 14 students for 2010 summer employment at the GS-3 level. The group included four students returning for their second summer.

Walsh began the meeting by asking the students about their experience working for U.S. Pacific Fleet and shared his personal thoughts from his experience regarding career outlook when he was a student.

“You have the biggest challenge in front of you,” said Walsh. “You’re starting to look at the world in front of you and starting to figure out what works best for you.”

“If you really want to have an impact, you have to ask yourself if you’re capable enough. Being enthusiastic and energetic is important, but being able to act on an idea and get it across the goal line takes a strong skill set.”

Walsh also made clear his hope the students would be able to take their experiences working at U.S. Pacific Fleet and apply them to their education and future careers.

“Take the experiences you get while here and apply them to the rest of your life. This will help you become more valuable to future employers,” said Walsh. “As you graduate and move on, be flexible and grow a wide array of skills. Make sure you think about not just the breadth of your knowledge, but the depth as well.”

The students offered their impressions of the discussion and internship.

“It was comforting to know that the Admiral had been in my shoes and that he’s faced the decisions I’m dealing with,” said Leilani Aguon, 18, a student at Leeward Community College who worked for the U.S. Pacific Fleet Comptroller Staff. “It was an honor to speak with him.”

“Talking with the admiral was an amazing opportunity,” said Caitlin Shannon, 20, a student at the University of Central Florida who worked in U.S. Pacific Fleet Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence directorate. “This internship has shown me that I can apply my degree toward a government job, which I didn’t think about before.”

Duties for the STEP summer hires at U.S. Pacific Fleet encompassed 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, was a STEP summer hire working in U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs with social media, public and community relations.