Students and recent graduates wandered through the maze of winding tables as eager employers hoped to grab their attention. With over 120 vendors present, the Career Fair at Sonoma State University on Wednesday provided attendees with the rare opportunity to meet with employers face-to-face.
Tables included local groups such as Alvarado St. Bakery and Lagunitas, and organizations from surrounding counties and cities including the Contra Costa County Sheriff and the City of Fremont.
“It was extremely well organized. Everybody was friendly and there were plenty of helpful volunteers,” said John Harrison a customer service specialist for Alvarado St. Bakery in Petaluma. Harrison, who has been with the company for six years, added that Sonoma State provides a good market due to student environmental concern.
Organized by Career Services, the event began its planning stages in October. According to Career Advisor Ann Mansfield the biggest challenge in planning the event is being the only professional staff member.
“When I arrived on the campus, the Career Fair had approximately 70 employers. I have worked hard to proactively recruit more employers from a broad range of companies and organizations,” Mansfield said. She was also instrumental in relocating the Career Fair from the Rec Center to the Student Center.
Mansfield also noted that attendance has been increasing since the relocation, with many companies choosing to return each year.
“We hoped to meet students graduating in spring 2017 that are staying in the Bay Area and may need help securing a full-time job after graduation. We are always looking for our clients, and for our own internal staff of recruiters and sale representatives,” said Danielle Tarani, the operations manager for Bolt Staffing.
Bolt was one of many companies making a return to the Career Fair with a strong connection to Sonoma State. The organization’s president, Joanne Bouldt Sanders, graduated from Sonoma State in 1991, but isn’t the only Seawolf with the company.
“Our Account Manager Scott Crossen, class of 2014, is a [Sonoma State] alum. So as a company we are definitely drawn to the school through their connections,” Tarani said.
Also returning for the event was Simply Solar, one company who noted an increase in employers at the spring show compared to the prior fall event.
“At Simply Solar, we believe the Career Fair is a fantastic opportunity for students and employers alike. It gives the students a chance to explore their potential career opportunities post graduation, and get a better sense of what they are looking for in a career,” said Sales Development Manager Megan Goodspeed.
Goodspeed has worked with Simply Solar for over a year and is Sonoma State senior majoring in psychology. According to Goodspeed, she isn’t the only student worker for the company. Simply Solar employs many students and recent college graduates, including some from Sonoma State.
Full-time careers weren’t the only offers for students at the fair. Those seeking internships, part-time jobs or even seasonal work all had options available. Summer program, Camp Tawonga, was one of the seasonal opportunities available for students seeking a summer job. According to San Quintana, the program coordinator and summer office manager, Camp Tawonga attends various college career fairs as well, including events at UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley.
“Working in a close knit, intentional and hard working community provides valuable growth and experiences for all people, college students particularly. At Tawonga you gain professional development and life skills that are unique and transformative,” Quintana said.
For students seeking employment, the Career Fair provided an important opportunity to reach local and regional employers. For Harrison and the Alvarado St. Bakery, the event provided a recent applicant the opportunity to earn some face time, something that can give prospective employees an edge on the rest of the field.
Many Seawolves found themselves an opportunity to work as a result of the fair. Those that weren’t able to attend or find work, can find further assistance with Career Services.
“Don’t think of Career Services as a place you make an appointment with your senior year or somewhere down the road. Navigating your future starts the day you step foot on campus,” Mansfield said.
Students interested in employment and career assistance can find more information on Career Services at http://www.sonoma.edu/career.