BANGOR, Maine — If there was any major difference between the first Beal College Career Fair and the second annual edition on Wednesday, it was in the number of people present.
“We’ve had about 250 students here today out of about 550 in our total student population,” said Donna Gillette, Beal’s career services coordinator. “We have more businesses and agencies represented this year, but that’s more because everyone who signed up attended. Last year, we had some late cancellations [by businesses].”
In all, there were 36 businesses and agencies represented from the fields of health care, law enforcement, social services, behavioral health and temporary staffing.
Last year’s fair attracted 30 businesses and 131 students. Even though there were more people this year, the fair wasn’t as crowded because it was expanded to include space in the student lounge, a classroom across the hall and the adjoining hallways.
“We learned to spread this out a little bit,” said Gillette. “It was a lot more comfortable for everyone.”
Students of all ages got a chance to network with company hiring and human resource officials, ask questions, and get advice on how best to make themselves more marketable and desirable to hire.
“When we have our orientation with brand new students, we spend a lot of time with them on career placement because we don’t want them to wait until the end of this process,” said Beal College President Allen Stehle. “This is kind of a capstone thing for them at this point because we can help them make more contacts all at once.”
Soon-to-be graduates Cindy Johnson and Amanda Kowalsky took full advantage of the fair, networking with child care agency representatives in particular, as well as with law enforcement agencies.
“We are enrolled in the early childhood program here and will be graduating next month,” Johnson said. “We were asking about the registration process in terms of background checks and fingerprints done to do our externships.”
An externship is a training program — taken in private business — that’s part of a course of study offered by an educational institution.
Kowalsky said the fair served a dual purpose for her.
“It’s a good chance to find out what employers are looking for. I’ve networked with a lot of child care providers, so hopefully that will help set up a potential job opportunity,” Kowalsky said. “And we have to write a report on this for a class, too.”
Trooper Brian Bean routinely attends job fairs to represent the Maine State Police, but this was his first time at Beal. He was impressed with the level of interest and the caliber of questions from students.
“It’s been steady. It seems like a lot of people’s questions are very specific and I’m very, very pleased with the level of interest we’ve seen,” he said. “They’re asking about our internship program, specific questions about the academy, ride-along programs, and how to prepare themselves to be in position to get into our agency.”