By: Michelle Ferguson
With a stack of books cradled in her arm and a look of determination in her eyes, Magda Tomczynski wove her way through the crowded room, making sure to stop at several booths along the way.
Although in her third year of nursing, Tomczynski had never attended Algonquin’s annual health care job fair — always either too busy or not motivated enough to make it out. But this year was different.
On Jan. 10, Tomczynski rushed to the college from her internship at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital, arriving a little after the 3 p.m. start, but with plenty of time to hand out resumes to potential employers.
Her goal: to find another job as a personal support worker and stock up her resume.
Organized every year by Algonquin’s employment support centre, the job fair gives students the opportunity to meet employers in the flesh.
With so many institutions turning to online application systems it’s refreshing for students to be able to speak one on one with employers, ask questions about that specific workplace and hand in a hard copy of their resume, said employment outreach officer Jennifer Jarvis.
The event is also an opportunity for employers to show the students who they are. This is especially important for the French hospitals in the area, which sometimes struggle to fill positions because of language requirements.
Hôpital Montfort is one of the French hospitals that attended the event. It is also a new addition to the list of attendees.
“Students a couple years ago actually asked us to have Montfort there,” said Jarvis. “Maybe they liked it because it was in town but a smaller hospital.”
Vickie Adam, a human resources advisor, said the hospital chose to participate in the job fair because of the new programs being offered at the college — specifically medical radiation technology.
A bilingual hospital, Montfort requires all it’s employees to speak both official languages. Showcasing at Algonquin gives them the opportunity to see if these students exist at the college and are interested in working for them.
The Hawksbury and District General Hospital, the other bilingual institution present at the fair, will be undergoing major renovations and is looking to fill many part-time positions before the hospital doubles in size in 2016.
“We’re looking for bilingual people that’s why it’s a challenge,” said Diane Fourges, senior advisor at the hospital in Hawksbury. “But we believe we can find people here at the Algonquin College.”
Although not a big number, Fourges said the hospital is usually able to hire one or two students a year from Algonquin.
Fourges said it’s hard to compete with some of the other hospitals, which are closer to town and don’t pose the same language requirements.
Even Xavier Charette, who speaks fluent French and uses his bilingualism as an “entry point” when looking for jobs, was looking into applying to one of the English-speaking institutions present at the fair.
A pre-nursing student hoping to practice as a registered nurse in either the emergency room, the operating room, or in the psychiatric ward, Charette said he was interested in the Royal Ottawa Hospital, a mental health care and research centre.
But students like Charette who carve curious patterns through the crowd as they make their way towards the French booths are the reason Hawksbury continues to participate in the fair.
“I know that they don’t see all that many, but I think they’re happy if they see any at all,” said Jarvis.