Over 100 employers were present at NAIT’s annual Career Fair held Tuesday Jan. 19. It was crowded between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and of the employers interviewed, all have a long history of attendance at the fair and are enthusiastic about hiring NAIT students. In fact, some of the human resource representatives are NAIT grads themselves! Their experience tells them that NAIT grads are well educated in their fields and have the work ethic necessary to succeed.
As for the students, many felt that they had a positive experience and that the prospective employers were patient and easily approached. The main concern was the lack of summer placement positions and the few full-time positions on offer.
Several employers were asked if they found students prepared to make a good impression, for example, asking appropriate questions, having an understanding of the company they were talking to, etc. The responses were mixed. Some felt most students had done some form of preparation even if it was checking the website out on a mobile device before coming back and starting a conversation. NAIT has ensured that students have the chance to be informed and prepared. Leading up to the day of the fair, there were many opportunities to attend workshops on resume writing and how to plan for the event itself. A “Navigating the Career Fair” information session was held on two days, at two different times and students in a variety of programs attended. The information was comprehensive and relevant. The presenter stressed that many conversations held on the day of the fair could lead to employment, if not being hired on the spot, then possibly in the future. Preparation does make an impression.
The hidden job market was discussed briefly at the seminar. For example, students in the Radio and TV program had only two companies to check out but since they are given a grounding in social media and how to craft a social media presence, any company in any field may well have a place on their corporate team for that skill set. Some fields have this built in, such as office administration and marketing or finance streams. People trained in human resources had over 100 opportunities. The challenge for students in other fields is to find skills that are transferable, applicable to more than the obvious jobs in their areas.
For many students, however, the Career Fair presented possibilities other than finding work. Indeed, it was about researching a career path, about whether or not to attend the college and if they choose to attend, what program will best fit them. Some international students took the opportunity to talk to employers to practise their second language, English, thereby improving their vocabulary in a critical area. The NAIT Career Fair offers many opportunities.
Just as there are diverse reasons for students to attend, there are other reasons for companies to have a booth. There were a few non-employers in the mix, Student Automotive was offering student pricing for automotive services. Another was the Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association, which has links to career opportunities on its website – one booth that could connect students to a variety of businesses. The Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta was there, offering further education in that field. This suggests that all students might want to investigate the Fair, even if they are already employed.
Yes the economy is slow at the moment and, although the employment opportunities may seem sparse, it is always smart to remember the economy is not a static entity, it is constantly changing and will have an upswing, hopefully, in the near future. So for the those planning to attend the Career Fair next year or even in the years after they graduate, Natashah Dhalla-Chatha of AFL Global had this to say of the NAIT Career Fair “… fantastic, great traffic, experienced grads, people we would strongly consider hiring.”
Photo by Isabel Klapwyk