Attendance at Husky Career Week events last week at USM was limited. Student Success and Student Life on the Portland and Gorham campuses teamed up to plan this first-time week of events in anticipation of this Wednesday’s job fair.
Rodney Mondor, student success coordinator for the Portland campus, said Career Week is a response to employers at job fairs. Over the years, employers have said that USM students were under prepared for the job market. The intention of Career Week is to help college students prepare to start careers after school.
“It’s a great opportunity to explore,” said Stacy Stewart the USM Coordinator for STRIVE U, an organization that helps young adults with developmental disabilities to build career and academic skills, “For students looking to gain experience that they could earn in an internship.” Career Week offered an students the opportunity to learn from professional how to create a resume, how to act and dress in an interview and how to work a job fair.
Attendance averaged only about four people per event, but Mondor called this year a pilot for Career Week and said it was an opportunity to ask “What can we do better?”
Director of Portland Student Life Chris O’Connor was aware of the small attendance of Career Week and said a large part of the problem was in the promotion, which consisted of a mass student e-mail and a few posters around campus.
“We have to come back and revisit how to market it,” said O’Connor. The plan was to schedule workshops multiple times at different times of the day to accommodate students’ differing class schedules. Since the low attendance indicated that this strategy did not lead to high attendance, O’Connor said, “that wasn’t the most realistic way to program for it.”
O’Connor believes student involvement would have grown with more promotion, including getting into classrooms, getting more people talking about it and having more than a week to promote for it and put it together.
Another cause may have been that in previous years the job fair occurred in March rather than February, as it is this year. The job fair is scheduled for Wednesday at the Sullivan Recreation and Fitness Complex. The early date, Mondor said, is a response to employers’ requests to move it up, and to help students prepare for the fair, Student Success and Student Life wanted to hold Career Week in case the early date caught student off guard. The lack of attendance was especially surprising due to the massive attendance seen at the job fair in previous years according to O’Connor.
However, Career Week was helpful to some students. When senior philosophy major Jamie Grindle was asked about her experience at Career Week, she said, “looking for a job can be very overwhelming.” She said that she feels that it is important that students attend these events because many people find it difficult to get started after college. She believes that it should seem even more pertinent to the upperclassmen. “There is guidance out there,” said Grindle.