YSU Career Fair a Hit for Employers, Students

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For students, it’s often the first time they’ll speak to a prospective employer related to their field of study. For employers, it’s often the first look at a job candidate’s qualifications and whether their skills merit further consideration.

Between 400 and 500 students were expected to turn out Tuesday to take part in Youngstown State University’s 2017 Spring Career Fair, an expo that gives YSU students and alumni an opportunity to begin or further their careers.

“We really believe that students should find a career that they’re really passionate about,” said Christina Hardy, YSU director of career and academic advising, which sponsors two career fairs each academic year, one in the fall semester and another in the spring. “We have employers here hiring for internships as well as for full-time professional jobs.”

Ninety-one employers representing a cross section of the region’s economy staffed tables Tuesday in the Chestnut Room in YSU’s Kilcawley Center. Manufacturers, banks, financial service firms, health care companies, nonprofits, the armed services, information technology companies – all gathered at YSU to accept resumes or just introduce themselves to job prospects.

“Somewhere between 20% and 30% of students who come through here will end up with a job because of the career fair,” Hardy said. “It may not be immediately, because a number of students are here with internships. But, somewhere between 80% to 90% of internships turn into actual jobs a few years down the road.”

The main thrust of YSU’s career fairs is to encourage networking, Hardy said. “We want the students to get to know the employers and the employers to get to know them, and start a conversation.”

That means students should be prepared with some of the “soft skills” related to job seeking –good eye contact and personal presentation – and strong interaction and communication skills.

“We also recommend that the student get the employer’s business card so that they can continue the conversation,” she said.

Hardy said that the Career Fair is open to all YSU students and alumni, but the majority of attendees are usually juniors and seniors. “We do have freshmen coming in to get a feel of what a career fair is like so it’s not so overwhelming when they actually need an internship or a job,” she said. The event is also open to all alumni, she noted.

Jessica Mertens, a senior in the coordinated program for diatetics, said that she attended the career fair to gauge opportunities in clinical nutrition. “I’m not really sure where I want to work, but this gives me a good opportunity to meet with potential employers.”

She said the local market for dieticians is fairly strong in health-related industries such as hospitals and nursing homes. “There’s a lot locally. We’ve looked at Akron Children’s and done internships at St. E’s downtown with AVI. They’re looking to hire dieticians, it’s an upcoming field.”

Nicholas Falcone, who graduates this May, said he is interested in exploring a career in the behavioral and counseling fields. “There’s a couple that I’ve looked at and made contact with.”

Employers as well have found success in attending YSU’s Career Fair.

“I’ve been with the company for 12 years and have been coming to this job fair for 12 years,” said Sharon Coleman, human resources manager at Marsh Bellofram Companies, based in Newell, W.Va. “We’ve had a lot of success here at YSU.”

Often, the company will start out by hiring students still pursuing their degree and offer them a full-time position once they finish college, she said.

“At our plant in Newell, we’re looking for a chemical engineer, I have an opening for a technical sales manager and I’m also looking for a product development marketing manager,” Coleman said. “We’re expanding our business, and we’ve got some openings right now.”

Last year, the company acquired Specialty Fab in North Lima – now Byrd Equipment – and Coleman noted that operation is looking for welders.

“We’ve had real good luck filling lab interns from YSU,” said Ann Bennett, human resource generalist at Simon Roofing Inc., Boardman. “We’re here every job fair. We’ve had great success.” The company plans to fill positions in sales and marketing, a lab intern, a business development specialist and a construction manager trainee.

Pat DeChellis, operations manager for Simmers Crane Design and Services, Salem, said his company is looking for mechanical engineers, civil engineers and a human resource employee. “We get quite a few applicants here – 30,40,50 applicants,” he said. “We screen here and go back to the office to review and then bring candidates in for an interview.”

The company, on average, hires two to four engineers out of YSU each spring, DeChellis said. “We’ve had good success with their candidates and we’re very fortunate to have them here,” he said. “They allow our business to grow.”

Pictured: Christina Hardy, YSU’s director of career and academic advising, expected between 400 and 500 students to come to the Spring Career Fair.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.