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Friday, April 5, 2019

Career fair offers networking and connection for successful professional life in Maine

By Briana Bizier

Last Wednesday, as the bright March sun melted the remaining snowbanks on Saint Joseph’s campus, a group of businesses, community members, and college students gathered to focus on their futures and, together, to help advance the future of our state.

The annual Saint Joseph’s Career and Internship Fair, which was re-scheduled for March 27 due to a snowstorm on the original date in February, provided an excellent opportunity to build networks and connections which may lead to internships, jobs and, ultimately, a successful professional life in Maine. With over 60 employers in attendance from fields as diverse as banking, law enforcement, mental health services, and recreation, the Career Fair represented a large swath of the southern Maine professional community.

Saint Joseph College Alumni, Brett O'Kelly, Jason Riley and
Danielle Capozza attended the career fair representing Tyler Technologies
It’s great to see this number of employers,” explained Muhammad Humza Khan, a Talent and Diversity Specialist with Bangor Savings Bank. “And, the students I’ve met are very impressive,” he added.

While the Career Fair has a very strong connection to Saint Joseph’s, this event is always open to the entire community. Laurie Murphy, Assistant Professor of Human Resources in Saint Joseph’s Business Department, explained that this event is an opportunity to support the Maine economy and connect motivated, talented workers from the college and beyond with local employers.

The fair also provided Saint Joseph’s students with an intensive hands-on opportunity to participate in planning, managing, and running a large event. Over thirty students volunteered their time and expertise to make the fair a success, according to Steve McFarland, the Director of Career Development at Saint Joseph’s. Student involvement in the Career Fair ranged from running the check-in counter during the fair to reviewing resumes and LinkedIn profiles for fellow students and members of the community alike. Students even suggested new employers to invite. Tri-County Mental Health, McFarland said, was attending this year’s Career Fair thanks to a suggestion from a current Saint Joseph’s student. Students were even volunteering at the photo booth to offer all attendees the opportunity to sit for a professional portrait.

This is an all-campus undertaking,” explained McFarland.

Historically, the students’ efforts have certainly paid off. Last year, McFarland stated that several Saint Joseph’s students met their future employers during the Career Fair. One of those students, Steven Albert, found his position as a management trainee at Enterprise during last year’s fair. He returned to the Saint Joseph’s campus last Wednesday to represent Enterprise’s Portland branch and their Management Training program.

This is really ground-up training in how to run a business,” Albert said. And it all began with a handshake over the Enterprise table in the same room one year ago.

Other Saint Joseph’s alumni in attendance worked for Covetrus, a software company in Portland who designs technology to serve veterinarians and their teams, and Tyler Technologies in Yarmouth.
We’ll recognize a lot of students who come through today,” explained Danielle Capozza, an Associate HR Representative at Tyler Technologies, who was one of three recent Saint Joseph’s graduates representing Tyler Tech at the Career Fair.

This personal connection to a fellow classmate can make networking and job hunting much less intimidating, explained Alyssa Theriault, a current HR Management Major at Saint Joseph’s and one of the student volunteers who helped to organize the Career Fair.

I found an internship here,” Theriault said, explaining how a connection made at last year’s Career Fair led to her summer internship position with Norway Savings Bank. “It was a great experience,” she told me, with a cheerful smile.

Yet this annual Career and Internship Fair helps to build more than individual careers.

Professor Laurie Murphy explained that this event is an important part of building the Maine community. As a state with an aging population, Maine faces a demographic challenge. “We need a strong workforce to ensure a successful future for employers, their employees, and the entire state.”

Many of our alums want to stay in Maine,” Murphy explained. This Career Fair gives the talented young students at Saint Joseph’s, and the larger community of Windham and Raymond, a chance to connect with employers, to learn of opportunities they may not have imagined, and to envision themselves building their career in Vacationland.

According to Theriault, living and working in Maine after graduating from Saint Joseph’s is an easy sell for most of her classmates.

We spend four years here,” Theriault said, gesturing to Saint Joseph’s panoramic views of the ice-covered Sebago Lake and the white peak of Mount Washington. “How can you look at that view every day and then want to move to a big city?”
           

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