“The vibe was very welcoming.” That’s how Criminal Justice major Savion Cleophat described the Fall 2018 Career Fair presented by the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) Center for Career Development at 199 Chambers Street on September 26.
“I see a lot of motivation from the students to seek jobs, as well as to explore resources at BMCC,” said Stavroula Koinis, a career advisor in the Center for Career Development who headed up an information table at the event. “Our students are taking advantage of meeting as many employers as possible. They have a huge investment in their future careers, and are always seeking ways to move forward with their goals, asking, ‘What’s next’?”
The event was attended by close to 800 students and more than 100 employers. One of those employers, Katie Anderson, a store manager with LOFT in Times Square, said her company first participated in the BMCC career fair last spring.
“We’ve been impressed by our experience with BMCC students. It’s important to meet people face-to-face, when you’re considering a pool of candidates,” Anderson said. “BMCC is more of a commuter college, so students live in all five boroughs and they’re able to work in different locations throughout the city. We meet a lot of business marketing students here at BMCC, and we find that whatever their major, when they work in retail—whether working with the internal or external store team—they develop skills they can take to a number of business environments.”
Communities of careers build meaning into job search
“We tried to target a wide variety of industries included in the BMCC Career Communities, so that they relate to students’ majors,” said Katherine Bedoya, an employee relations coordinator in the Center for Career Development. “At BMCC, every academic major is linked to high-demand industries and workforce sectors grouped into what we call ‘Career Communities’. Keeping that in mind as we helped students prepare for the Career Fair helped us make it more meaningful for them.”
BMCC also has a new Career Fair app, Bedoya said. “It’s free. You search for ‘BMCC Career Fair’ in your app store online. It shows all the employers for the fair, and lists the jobs they’re looking to fill, along with requirements for the job.”
The app even shows a floor plan for the career fair, she said, “so the students can be efficient with their time and make a game plan before they get there.”
Employers at the Fall 2018 Career Fair ranged from Sephora, the cosmetics chain; to Madame Tussauds, the famous wax museum; to the New York Police Department, Allied Physicians Group, Banana Republic, Sunglass Hut, Frito Lay Inc., and many others.
Duane Hodgeson, a Multimedia Design major, walked thoughtfully up and down the wide aisles in the BMCC gym, flanked by colorful employer tables.
“I’m interested in finding a part-time job in graphic design while I finish my degree,” he said. “I’ve been talking to different employers and even if I’m not interested in working in their industry, it’s good practice for me. You can never get too much practice in talking to people.”
Tracey Smith, a nursing major who volunteered at the fair, was on hand to answer questions from fellow students at the event.
“Sometimes we have a hard time finding a job and we need this kind of support,” she said. “You get a lot of help and prep from the Career Center staff before you actually go to the fair, so we feel ready when we get here. This is an excellent platform to explore the wide range of opportunities that are out there.”
Students consider employment on and off campus
While the BMCC career fairs are a bridge for jobs off campus, the Center for Career Development also guides students toward employment opportunities on campus.
These include working as a College Assistant in a research lab or office, working through a federal work-study program, or working at BMCC through programs including CUNY Educate, Develop, Graduate and Empower (EDGE), the Counseling Assistantship Program (CAP), CUNY Service Corps and others.
Students prepare for these opportunities at the Center for Career Development by taking part in mock interviews, resume writing workshops and goal-setting sessions. They can attend gatherings such as LinkedIn Hour, held every Tuesday from 3 to 4 p.m. at 199 Chambers Street, Room S-342, to learn tips on maximizing their use of this social network for professionals.
They can also take surveys to explore their interests and attend counseling sessions to focus on marketing themselves.
Career Express, an online platform provided through the Center for Career Development, provides an extensive job bank for students, as well as access to professional development workshops and other services.
There are also employment resources for alumni.
The next BMCC career fair will be held in Spring 2019. For more information, stop by the Center for Career Development at 199 Chambers Street, Room S-342, or call (212) 220-8170.