September 30, 2020

BY STEPHANIE LEFEBVRE

Local post-secondary institutes and Partners for Employment teamed up on Feb. 6 to help over 4,000 students network and get jobs.

The P4E Job Fair, held at RIM Park in Waterloo, was a huge success, with over 160 employers at the event, offering a wide variety of jobs.

Students and alumni from the University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College only needed to register online and produce their ID card to get in to meet with employers.

In order to attend, each company needed to have summer jobs available for students. However, they were also offering full-time positions and advice for those who came prepared.

According to the job fair’s website, to gear up for the event, they advised students to visit the Career Services department at their respective schools, do research on companies they were interested in and prepare a list of questions for each employer.

They also noted each student should dress appropriately and exude as much confidence and enthusiasm that they could muster.

Tao Cruikshank, a career adviser at Conestoga College, was at the event offering help. But she said some students were asking questions that were hard to answer at a fair.

“We’re getting everything today in terms of what to do when they get here to where the jobs are,” she said. “We’re getting the less-prepared student.”

Cruikshank said she talked to quite a few students and alumni from various institutions who were underprepared. She advised these people to make appointments with Career Services at their respective schools to help them make decisions based on where they should take their schooling in order to get the career they want.

Even some of the businesses were shocked at the lack of preparedness. Bryan Takahashi works for CDI Corp, a recruitment company. He was at the fair recruiting for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada for various positions including engineering, human resources and other jobs that required a specialized skill.

Takahashi said some of the questions asked of him were things that should’ve been researched before coming to the fair.

“They’re asking about the company and what field to get into,” he said. “I think they could be more prepared.”

Not all the representatives felt this way. Const. Jackie Brennan of the Halton Regional Police said the people who stopped by to talk to her were ones who had some experience in the field or knew what they wanted.

“With this job fair we’re getting a lot of inquiries in both civilian opportunities and sworn opportunities and a few who are just toying with the idea and learning about it,” Brennan said.

She also said the ones who were considering the sworn opportunities (policing) came prepared whereas the others who were considering civilian jobs had no concept of what was required.

Though she didn’t ask which program the inquiring students were in, she did say she could tell which ones were more knowledgeable based on which jobs they were looking for.

And throughout the fair, there were some companies that were busier than others, such as BlackBerry and Toyota, indicating that people knew what they wanted or they were attracted to a big name. Still, other smaller companies attracted their niche clientele.

The P4E Job Fair also offered a LinkedIn session in the gymnasium where students and alumni could learn how to use it effectively to attain a job or network. Steve Watt, marketing manager and LinkedIn evangelist, ran three separate tutorials for anyone interested in attending.