By Andrew Randas
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa.-The Alle-Kiski Job Fair found a home at Penn State New Kensington’s campus for the first time on Oct. 1 in the Athletics Center.
The event attracted more than 500 students and community members and offered over 50 employers that ranged from banking to manufacturing and from human services to logistics.
Jim Shields, the career services coordinator of Penn State New Kensington, and also one of the more important figures in organizing the Alle-Kiski Job Fair, was taken aback by the success of the first job fair. “It was a fantastic turnout and exceeded all of our expectations,” Shields said.
Shields has been involved with Penn State New Kensington’s career services for about nine years and has been involved in other different job fairs, including the West Pacs job fair that is held every year. He was a Bucknell University graduate with a major in biology and minor in psychology. Shields said he chose to change his career path after he was worked in the student service center at school and received his master’s degree in student services and higher education.
“I did some job shadowing, worked with my career services office there and really learned that I waned to do the people interaction thing,” Shields said. “I have gotten involved in several different job fairs feeling that it’s the best recourse for our students as far as local opportunities for students to go out there and network with employers at a face to face.”
Shields has stressed that it is very important for students to look into these job fairs because it gives them the opportunity to find a future employer before they graduate, and find one close to home.
“Most students come from within this region, and for most of them, it would be ideal to find work somewhere in this area,” Shields stated. “Anything we can do to bring employers here to help I think is great.”
The job fair did find a fair share of small problems. There were concerns that the campus would be too small to host such an event. The fair took place in the gymnasium and some worried the basketball floor would get ruined. There also weren’t enough tables to provide to all of the employers.
The biggest problem was parking because this event took place during class times for students at the campus.
“The challenge was that it was also the busiest day for classes on campus,” explained Shields. “There are some things we are considering to adjust or reconsider for next time. Overall, it went very smoothly.”
The Alle-Kiski Job Fair was successful enough to be held at Penn State New Kensington annually. According to Shields, the plan is to have the fair every October. “The committee that worked on this decided that we would make this an annual event,” Shields said.
Shields also worked on the Undergraduate Research Fair on Oct. 15. This would be larger than the Alle-Kiski Job Fair by bringing up to 170 employers. This was held at Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Complex in Cheswick.