Mandy Consoli was an island of calm amongst a sea of job seekers filling the Rankin Family Student Commons at Niagara College’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus on Feb. 5.
Consoli, who is set to graduate in April from Niagara’s landscape technician program, was pouring over a map showing which vendors were where at Niagara’s annual job fair in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
With a sheaf of resumes in one hand and a floor plan diagram in the other, she diligently checked off potential employers of interest.
“It’s such a great opportunity,” she said. “There’s lots of employers here for all programs in the school.”
Another attendee, Niagara graduate Savio James, has been actively looking for work in the hospitality and tourism sector.
The job fair, he said, was a great way to get some time with potential employers and land a full-time job in Niagara Falls, where he lives.
“I was a student in the hospitality and tourism management program,” James said, after picking information about career opportunities with NOTL-based Whirlpool Jet Boats.
James thought his chances of coming away from the event with a new job were good.
“Everyone is hiring right now,” he said, adding he hopes to find work in guest services at one of the Niagara Falls hotels.
Tina Camilleri, guest services manager for Whirlpool Jet Boats, said there had been a lot of interest in the jet boat attraction from job seekers.
“It’s been pretty busy here all day,” she said.
Job fairs, Camilleri said, are a good way for employers to meet with potential employees in an informal setting.
Like many employers, Whirlpool Jet Boats has had some trouble filling vacancies, even when interviews with applicants are set up.
“People will just not show up,” she said. “We’ve found it’s difficult to get help.”
As an employer, she said the job fair is a chance to see many people and determine if they are suitable for a given position.
“We find it very helpful to meet them face front,” she said.
Meanwhile, Sumie Yamakawa, the estate winery manager for Inniskillin, said the job fair is a great way for the winery to get exposure to those people who are looking for work.
Like it has been for the jet boat folks, finding enough applicants has been a challenge.
“There’s a lot of different things happening,” she said. “There’s a lot more competition.”
Dina Fox, director of academic advising and career services for the NOTL campus, said employers relish the opportunity to network and meet with potential employees.
“It’s much more efficient for their time versus receiving applications and attempting to screen (applicants) just through documents,” she said.
Marsha Fiorino, a career consultant in the career and co-op services department on the NOTL campus, agreed with her colleague.
“The feedback I’ve received is that they like that one-on-one interaction,” she said. “They can get a sense of somebody if they’ll fit with your needs when you’re meeting with them in person.”
More than 100 employers, ranging from hospitality to health care, took part in the four-day event, split between Niagara’s campuses in NOTL and Welland.