Patrick Chen, representing Versaterm at the college's annual Careers Fair, informs Peter Gani and other students about job opportunities. The Feb. 12 fair brought out hundreds of students to network with over 70 prospective employers. Photo credit: Emily Hsueh

Hundreds of Algonquin students and alumni alike flocked to the college’s gym in hopes of finding a new career path with one of the many employers recruiting at the annual Algonquin College Careers Fair on Feb. 12.

The fair, returning for its 21st year, brought in more than 70 companies looking to hire for both co-op and full time positions. In the past couple of years, the fair has had around 1,700 people come through to network, with this year’s attendance rivaling that number.

Patrick Chen, a software developer with Versaterm, believes that Algonquin’s Careers Fair was an outstanding event – one of the most successful he’s seen.

“This is our first time and we’re really happy with the turnout,” Chen said. Just two hours into the fair, Chen said he spoke to “at least two or three hundred students already, which is probably the best out of all the schools I’ve gone to. This has been one of the best career fairs I’ve attended.”

The event is organized by the college’s employment support centre, which hosts workshops throughout the year to assist students in preparing their resumes and promoting themselves.

“You have to learn how to network and promote yourself, so it’s great practice to come chat with the recruiters, handshake, make eye contact, and promote yourself,” said Carol Ann Mahoney, an employment outreach officer with the centre.

Shaundra Oelsner, senior associate manager with Sun Life Financial, has come to the fair every year since she joined the company. She agrees that the turnout was on par with previous years, and that there were even more recruiters this time around.

Oelsner is an Algonquin alumnus herself, having graduated from the nursing program 20 years ago. She made the career switch to finance a few years after that, and has since encouraged students to apply their skill sets to a wide range of professions.

“I’ve been here every year because I’m an alumnus, and I want to teach others that they have transferable skill sets,” Oelsner said. “We all have different skill sets that we can transfer and you just have to be brave and step out, and I’m looking for the person here that is that brave, entrepreneurial mind.

“I believe that if someone loves to help people, whether it’s healthcare or financial planning, it’s just new knowledge you’re applying.”

Dressed in professional attire complete with a tie, second-year computer engineering student, Emmett Janssens, 23, arrived at Tuesday’s Careers Fair looking to do just that. He attended “to meet people and to expose []himself] to the different kinds of opportunities that can happen.”

As his first career fair, he thought it would be an intimidating experience, but was happy with how friendly all of the employers were.

“I’m bringing hard work; I’m bringing experience and the technical skills that Algonquin College has taught me so far in my program, and a positive attitude.”

Though the Careers Fair comes only once a year, Mahoney encourages anyone looking for employability advice to visit the employment support centre in E350.

“We’re there to help
our students,” encouraged Mahoney. “If it’s your first day on campus or you
graduated five years ago, we’re here and available to see everybody.”