Science major Kristoff Joseph Russell was fully prepared when he made his way to the Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY career fair at the school’s gym March 18.
Russell, who eventually wants a career in physical therapy had gone and met with BMCC Center for Career Development counselors a few days before the fair. There, he got tips on perfecting his resume as well as a 60-second pitch for prospective employers.
The prep apparently paid off. Russell ended up with two offers for full and part-time jobs, as well as a promising interview with a non-profit organization that works with developmentally disabled individuals, a job that would provide him with experience that mirrors the health related field he hopes to someday work in.
Also, around a week beofore the fair, 50 students took advantage of the Career Services Resume Rush, where they sat with seven counselors who offered nuts and bolts advice as well as tools on how to improve their resume’s content and format.
High job-growth areas
Job openings increased over the past year in business services, health care and social assistance as well as accommodation and food services according to numbers from the April 7 Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report. There were representatives from many of those areas at the career fair.
Over 350 students worked a room divided by tables and rows, mapped by sector: business, education, financial services, government, health and human services and retail. The gym roared with activity as the mostly business attired students pitched themselves and company reps did the same, and once resumes were taken and initial conversations had, there were many cases of scheduled second meetings or interviews, even some reported job offers.
New Director Won Kang
Won Kang, who joined BMCC’s Center for Career Development this past December as its new director, called the fair an exciting opportunity for students and employers.
“We can help match up these employers with the students, where they can get prospective jobs, internships, part or full time employment. You can feel the excitement in the air around that,” said Kang.
Experience for the future
Community Health Major Amel Ahary called her experience at the fair “awesome.”
Long term, she says she’d like to become a health educator and eventually work either in clinics or a hospital.
"I want to help people, that's what I'm passionate about. I volunteered in a hospital for a couple of months and enjoyed it," she said.
Thinking outside the box
Some of the students at the March event explored opportunities beyond what they’d normally associate with their major.
Multi-media major Travis Douglas hopes to transfer to a four-year school and further grow his digital and graphic arts skills, eventually specializing in communication design. Over the next five years, he says he hopes to get into advertising, or possibly UX design for websites.
“My goal is to see a couple of companies that have focus in advertising, maybe I can do some graphic design for them, and see where it goes from there,” said Douglas.
He later met with representatives from the quasi-public/private Battery Park City Authority, or BPCA, the planned community that’s also one-third parkland and home to thousands of residents and business as well as landmark spots; The Irish Hunger Memorial, Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York City Police Memorial, The Skyscraper Museum, Poets House and the Battery Park City Library.
“I’d like to be part of a team that creates design and logos for the website,” he told the BPCA representatives as they met with students and collected resumes.
The representative from BPCA let Douglas know BPCA wasn’t directly hiring graphic artists at that time. But, he’d be well advised to send his resume and samples of his work to their programming department, which produces many of the events that happen within the 92-acre urban complex. Douglas called the exchange, “exciting,” and plans to follow up.
Nurse of the streets
Nursing student Joamy Vasquez stopped by the New York City Fire Department’s table. The representative there told her that the fire department’s Emergency Medical Technicians are the “nurses of the street.”
He explained the steps she’d need to take in order to pursue that as a career option as she moves along the path to a career in nursing.
“I was told I might be a great candidate for EMT, I just need to pass my exam,” she said.
After an initial meet and greet with Santander Bank, Liberal Arts major Yusaf Sheiteh said he too, hopes to find a career in nursing.
But for now, he’s seeking a job that would give him customer service experience. Representatives from Santander explained that if he got a job at the bank, he’d likely have to handle a lot of cash while under pressure.
“As a nurse, I’d have to talk to a lot of patients and at times work under a lot of pressure," he said.
Criminal Justice major Nitequa Ousley, who eventually hopes to be a criminal justice lawyer, was initially motivated in part to attend by the extra classroom points she’d earn for going through the motions of a career fair. Turns out, Ousley was well pleased by the opportunities she found at the fair as she talked with prospective part and full time employers. She said the career fair is like a walk into “adulthood.”
And as far as her future in law, she’s passionate.
“There’s a lot about our government system that needs change,” she said adding that her favorite class at BMCC so far had been Criminal Justice Policing.
That extra push to succeed
Later that afternoon, Joamy Vasquez took a moment to explain where her love of nursing came from and why BMCC was such a good fit. It turns out she’d come from family full of nurses.
“I used to put on their little uniform aprons; my aunts, my cousins, a lot of them worked in the healthcare field she said.
Vasquez said after she graduated from an alternative high school, she didn’t know what she wanted to do next and wasn’t really sure she wanted to continue her education.
But, she says she believes BMCC gave her the push she’s needed.
“Sometimes, I feel like I’m not as smart, or motivated, but when I came to BMCC, I see that I’m just as capable as the other people around me. Coming here has given me a chance to feel more comfortable with college, so I will be ready for a four-year school. I’m not sure how I would have felt at a SUNY school right out of high school,” she said.
With that, Vasquez went back among the tables of employers, and pitched herself to another employer.