Wildcats Hiring Wildcats

Career and Professional Development Lab

Tim Vanderpool, Jacob Chinn photo

One of the primary goals of the UA Alumni Association Career and Professional Development Lab is to connect talented graduates with alumni employers, whether through high-tech webinars or face-to-face meetings. 

For an example of the lab’s success, look no further than Raul Graciano ’15, who graduated in May with a degree in mechanical engineering. Graciano was looking for a job when he met Don Zipperian ’82 ’84 ’87 through a Career Lab meet-and-greet.   

Zipperian is vice president of PACE Technologies, a Tucson-based metallography company. The two clicked; Graciano has been with the company for several months now, and Zipperian was grateful to hire a fresh grad with a continual passion for learning.  

Zipperian says he’d been struggling to fill a vacancy. “The meetups were one of the outlets we looked at. We wanted someone who was fairly new out of school, who we could break in.”  

At an Alumni Association and Career Services mixer, “they said they knew someone who was looking for a job, and that was Raul.”  The conversation “went pretty well,” Zipperian says, “so we called him in for an interview and ended up hiring him.”  

Graciano calls the alumni meetings extremely helpful. While many job fairs happen mid-semester — when students are distracted by classwork — this meet-up followed his May graduation, giving him a chance to prepare.  

“That’s when you really have the time to talk to all of these companies,” he says. “I found it helpful, because you have a chance to discuss your previous experience and qualifications, and employers can tell you what they’re looking for.”

Graciano will gain expertise at PACE, a hands-on company with 15 employees. PACE specializes in producing equipment for ultraprecise quality control and metallographic testing. Graciano is a product engineer, in charge of design, development, and equipment quality control.  

“One of the reasons we hired Raul was to develop mechanical engineering plans for present and future products,” says Zipperian. “In fact, we’re going to be a sponsoring company working with the UA College of Engineering on a design program.”

Clients range from American industrial giants Raytheon and Intel to companies in China and Mexico.

For Zipperian, looking to the UA to fill a vacancy was an obvious choice. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral diplomas from the UA, and his Wildcat pride runs deep. Recently, his company garnered prestigious recognition for export growth, called the President’s “E” Award. “And we got a banner to fly on our flagpole,” he says, with a chuckle. “We had it up for a couple of weeks — and then I put up the UA flag.”