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Job fair hints at better economy

POSTED: March 27, 2013 12:14 a.m.
Emma Witman/The Times

Anthony Harden networks with business representatives Tuesday at the job fair on the Gainesville campus of the University of North Georgia.

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The University of North Georgia’s job fair at the Gainesville campus reflected a lineup of employers largely seeking career-oriented graduates, a sign of more promising economic times, organizers said.

“It’s a combination of seasonal, part-time and full-time jobs,” said Edward Wai-Ming Lai, assistant director of career services Gainesville Campus. “I mean, it seems to me that the job market is better this year. We have 25 employers registered.”

Beka Beccue, a call center manager for American Telecenters, which has an office in Gainesville, said while the 24/7 nature of the business accommodates the schedules of students, it doesn’t ignore career potential.

“Yes, we’re targeting people who are in school, but there is potential to grow in the company as we grow, if that’s something they want to do,” she said. “At the very minimum, this is something we can do for our community to help our kids develop strong skill sets before they launch out into careers.”

With warm weather around the corner, service-oriented companies like Lake Lanier Islands Resort and the YMCA sought to recruit employees.

“It’s a seasonal position, because it’s catering,” said Emily Finke, a representative from Epting Events, based in Athens. “People don’t have parties when it’s really, really hot, or really, really cold.”

Finke sought everyone from hospitality students looking to gain experience to business majors looking to network.

“Because of the social nature of what we do there’s a lot of networking opportunities, a lot of people come to work with us just to find out who they’ll meet,” she said.

Networking, as at any effective career fair, was the operative word. Some students came dressed sharply with resumes in hand. Others, passing through en route to classes, study time or leisure, dropped by.

Accounting major Anthony Harden came ready for business in a suit and tie as he flexed his networking and communication skills with several employers.

“Mostly it’s about networking, meeting different businesses,” he said.

Harden, a peer adviser who will be graduating next spring, likes his prospects.

“Every company has an accounting department,” he said with a smile.

Lai has been in his role for seven years. He said campus consolidation may change the makeup of students at job fairs, and they will adjust accordingly.

“My guess is that down the road in a few years, we will have more people looking for full-time careers at the job fairs, so we may have to change the direction a little bit at that time,” he said.

Whether it’s prepared students like Thomas, or casual walk-ins, Lai said students get the idea that getting a job means putting themselves out there.

“We try to serve at least two purposes. One is for those who are actually looking for a job, and the other is to serve as a training purpose — an awareness for students who may not know that they need to have dressed nicely, have a resume,” he said. “At least we’re getting them to start understanding that if you want to find a job, you have to be active about it.”


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