Representatives from more than 60 companies from various industries accepted résumés from job seekers and provided information about internships, and part- and full-time career positions at the California State University, Dominguez Hills Spring Job and Internship Fair held on March 20, in the Loker Student Union Ballroom.
Many of the representatives talking to students and taking their résumés shared something in common with them–their alma mater. One unique aspect of the job fair was the large number of alumni now gainfully employed who returned to campus searching for a few more professionally-minded Toros to add as colleagues.
While attending the university, alumnus Scott Banks (Class of ’06, B.A., communications) began working part-time as a security officer for the Home Depot Center in 2003. He’s now a security operations manager and is representing the company for the third time at the annual job fair, looking for candidates to start in the position he did.
“It feels good to be in a position where I can give someone the same opportunity that I had while I was going to school,” Banks said, adding that students from any major are eligible to apply. “I look for someone who is assertive, reaches out to shake my hand, has good energy, and speaks well.”
Many of the participating companies were interested in candidates regardless of their major, while others sought those with specific backgrounds including business administration, health science, behavioral science, nursing, accounting, criminal justice, sociology, biology, computer science, digital media arts, and single-subject credentialed teachers.
Whether prospective job candidates targeted certain companies or industries, or blanketed the room with handshakes, elevator speeches, and résumés, it was clear that people skills ruled the room.
“We’re looking for candidates who aren’t afraid to talk to people. That’s very important because that’s what this job requires,” said Enterprise (Rent-A-Car) management trainee and alumna Maria Jerez (Class of ’12, B.S., international business).
Undoubtedly people skills are what landed her the job last year. As a student Jerez thought her career lay in logistics; however, she was encouraged by Vicki Johnson, a career counselor for the Career Center, to explore other options.
“She told me my personality fit the career path that Enterprise has,” said Jerez, who is looking forward to learning about and serving in the company’s international division.
She and Enterprise recruiter Sherron Hawkins, who had hired Jerez on Johnson’s recommendation, were at the job fair looking to fill entry-level management trainee positions.
“We’ve hired lots of students. We probably, on average, hire anywhere from 10 to 15 annually,” Hawkins said of the company.
Verizon Wireless recruiter and alumna Betzabet Gomez (Class of ’06, B.A., Chicano/a studies) said not only did her education at CSU Dominguez Hills prepare her for the workforce, but her involvement in Associated Students, Inc., Office of Student Life, and various other organizations on campus gave her an advantage that helped to garner an interview and ultimately a job.
“It showed I developed leadership skills,” she said of her service on campus.
While Verizon typically hires new employees into entry-level positions–promoting from within–it offers internal internships for those who wish to transition to other areas, an opportunity Gomez seized. Beginning as a telephone customer service representative nearly three years ago and later promoted to supervisor, she is currently participating in an internal internship through the company’s human resources department in order to promote to the next level.
As a company representative, she was accepting applications for entry-level customer service and retail sales representatives.
“We’re looking for …recent grads and soon-to-graduate students. We prefer business majors, but we [accept] any major,” Gomez said. “There are plenty of opportunities. [Verizon offers] marketing, sales, and IT internships once you’re inside of the company.”
Alumna Lily Ortega (Class of ’10, B.S., business administration), who recently returned to the human resources job market, hopes to someday be on the hiring side of a table at the job fair, like Gomez.
“That’s why I keep coming, because it’s a great experience to talk to [the representatives from the participating companies]. They gave me a lot of tips,” she said. “I’ve been coming to the job fairs regularly. It’s good exposure. You get to meet other professionals.”
While Ortega was kept informed about the university’s job fairs and employment opportunities through Johnson, others such as alumna Yolanda Herrera (Class of ’10, B.S., accounting) found her job as an auditor with Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts through the Career Center’s weekly email announcement.
Herrera was at the event to provide accounting majors with information about what the company does and potential openings in September. The top traits she was looking for were personality, professional attire, and career interests that fit in with the company’s services.
Possessing the right combination of those career-minded attributes is senior business administration major (and accounting concentration) Kenyun Davis. As an intern with the California State Board of Equalization (BOE)–a position he landed at the fall 2012 job fair–he was looking for students graduating in May with business accounting degrees to fill positions as tax auditors and business tax representatives. And he can personally vouch for interning with the BOE.
“I absolutely adore the position. I’m learning a lot. There’s a lot of support. Now that I’m applying concepts [I’m learning in my classes] I better understand what I’m doing,” Davis said.
He urged other students to apply when they are ready.
“Turn in your résumé. Be involved with what’s going on with the Board of Equalization. Do well in your classes, because [the BOE is] growing as an organization,” he said.
Professor of modern languages Miguel Dominguez was at the fair “doing some research” on behalf of more skeptical students.
“Many of my Chicano studies students ask me, ‘What can I do with my major?’” he recounted.
He found the answer to their question–plenty! With a simple inquiry he discovered a relatively high-paying entry-level position was being offered through the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Career Center director Carol Bosman-Anderson stressed that every connection made at the fair increases the odds of landing a job. Networking is particularly important in a competitive job market and to break into coveted positions in highly regarded companies such as the Torrance office of the global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, whose motto is “We don’t hire employees, we recruit partners.”
Students also had the opportunity to apply for jobs on-the-spot using computer workstations provided by the Career Center. Stefanie Encarnacion, a career counselor for the Career Center and coordinator of the Job Fair, noted that some employers, including Enterprise and Ross Dress For Less, arranged for on-campus interviews with students at a later date.
“Students can also upload their résumés for employers who utilize ToroJobs to recruit employees from the university,” Encarnacion said.
The Career Center provides tools and tips for developing elevator speeches, networking, how to make a good first impression, and even offers an interview stream software to practice interviewing skills via webcam from any properly equipped computer, including those available in the Career Center located in Welch Hall, Room D-360.
The Spring Job and Internship Fair was sponsored by the CSU Dominguez Hills Career Center and corporate partners Enterprise Holdings; Home Depot Center; Verizon Wireless; Kelly Pipe Company, LLC; Sun West Mortgage Company, Inc.; and Wells Fargo Bank.
For more information about the Career Center, click here.