Newman University hosted the annual Highway 54 career fair March 26 for students in search of employment opportunities. The annual event is co-sponsored by Newman and Friends universities.
More than 45 exhibitors and area employers and 100 Newman students attended the fair this year. Melody Head, director of career services and cooperative education at Newman University, reported this being the best turnout so far. In addition to having the best turnout, this event provided other gains.
Marie Moore, a freshman biology major, was one of the students who attended the fair. “I decided to attend the career fair because I was in need of a new job and hoped I could at least make a connection with someone in my field of choice — medicine.
“To be honest, I did not think I would get a job through the fair because I had heard that it was geared toward juniors and seniors,” Moore said. “But I thought it would be worth it to talk to people and see what opportunities were out there.”
Moore was able to meet with recruiters from several companies to discuss employment opportunities, including Ascension Via Christi. Since then, Moore has taken a certified nursing assistant (CNA) position with Ascension Via Christi and is currently working at one of their inpatient rehabilitation units.
“I think the fair did give me an advantage over other applicants because the recruiter, after talking to me in person, thought that I would be a great fit as a CNA.” Moore explained.
Head agreed that attending the career fair can give students an edge over outside applicants. She elaborates that students have the chance to hear about additional openings. This is a major advantage according to Head, since only “about 15% of jobs are advertised.”
According to Head, the fair also provides students with an opportunity to practice their ‘soft skills’ and elevator pitch. Students benefit from asking questions and learning about career options.
Moore said, “It was beneficial to me because it got me the perfect position to advance my career in medicine. I do not think it is very common for a freshman in college to be working as a CNA or patient care technician in a hospital setting, so I am getting that extra experience with the operations of the hospital as well as completing the patient hours I need to get into physician assistant school early on.”
Head reported that in order for the Highway 54 Career Fair to continue to be successful, students need to attend and be prepared. She stated that recruiters will not return if there is not a good turnout.
Head reported that each year, students arrive more prepared and “more knowledgable about what they should do at a career fair” and said she hopes the trend will persist and the fair will only “continue to grow in quality.”