A unique career-exploration event at Penn State DuBois on Wednesday gave students the opportunity to jump start their career planning. The Networking Luncheon and Professional Job Fair, held in the campus gymnasium, allowed students to meet and mingle with representatives from a nearly 40 local companies, as well as find out what kind of employment opportunities those companies currently offer.
At the luncheon, business representatives were seated with students whose major aligned with the education those businesses look for in potential employees. Wildlife technology students sat with a wildlife biologist from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, business students sat with bankers and business owners, and so on. It gave the students the chance to interact with people already working in their fields of interest.
"Attending the networking luncheon is an investment in your future career," said Anna Akintunde, career services coordinator at Penn State DuBois. "Networking is the most effective way of landing a job. It doesn’t matter whether you are a freshmen or a senior, it offers you the advantage of networking and building relationships that may lead to great opportunities whether that be an internship or a new job upon graduation. Students who have attended in the past have described the networking luncheon as not only a great way to connect with opportunities, but an excellent way to meet employers and talk more personally with them in a low-pressure and relaxed atmosphere. The job fair offers yet another opportunity for networking while also providing you the ability to gather field specific information in a time effective and less costly manner."
Following the luncheon, employers and students moved to another part of the gym for the career fair, which was also open to members of the public who are seeking employment. Here, job seekers got more formal information on companies and organizations who set up recruitment stations with information on what they have to offer.
John McIntosh, of DuBois is a returning adult student and veteran of the U.S. Navy majoring in recreation, parks and tourism management. He landed a summer internship at Penn's Cave and Wildlife Park in Centre Hall during the luncheon, by networking with a representative from there.
McIntosh said, "I came here to meet new people and interact, and showcase my experience to others. This is a good learning tool for young people, and good practice interacting with employers. Practice makes perfect."
Fellow recreation, parks and tourism management major Devin Moore, of Curwensville, agreed. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Moore said events like this help students adjust.
He said, "It really helps. I didn't have to search for a job while I was in the army for eight years, so it's kind of a new experience for me."
Employers at the event say networking with possible employees is a welcomed benefit for them, as well.
Mathew Gritzer, who was there representing Sykesville-based powder metal manufacturer, Symmco, said, "We have an aging workforce, with lots of retirements coming up. This will help us fill some of those openings." Akintunde said making contact at events like this is proven to produce results on both sides of the job market. She said that last year, 64 percent of students who attended this event felt they left with a potential job lead, while 76 percent left with a potential internship lead, and 79 percent of employers felt they had found a potential hire. This event was sponsored by GKN Sinter Metals.