Friday, May 29, 2015

Employers find job fair at Cuyamaca College really works

Career Expo at Cuyamaca College
The recent East County Career Expo at Cuyamaca College has resulted in at least 113 anticipated hires and lined up more than 80 interviews for jobseekers, according to a survey of employers who attended the May 20 event.

“I was blown away by the numbers,” said Kate Miller, a career and technical education, or CTE, specialist at the college.

Miller joined forces with Cindy Morrin, director of the college’s career center and Susan Roberts-Egley from the East County Career Center to organize the Expo. The event drew 52 employers and more than 160 jobseekers from both Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges, as well as the public.

“This is an important part of what we do. Job seekers and employers -- this is a connection our college is obligated to make,” Wei Zhou, interim Cuyamaca College president, said about the college’s role in the event. “For many of our students, getting a job is the culmination of the hard work they’ve accomplished in the classroom, while for others, it’s an opportunity to gain work experience while attending college. For employers, it is a great way to find motivated, dependable workers.”

Kevin Crowley, a first-year psychology major at Cuyamaca College, said he was attending the expo to scope out the types of jobs available to young people with little work experience.

“It’s helpful to students who may not otherwise know what opportunities are available and also a good way to discover a new career field,” said Crowley, who hopes to transfer to San Diego State University.

Among the companies, businesses and organizations at the expo was El Cajon-based Taylor Guitars, which employs more than 900 workers and produces about 500 guitars a day at its factories in El Cajon and in Tecate, Mexico.

“Primarily we’re looking for eager workers who enjoy working with their hands,” said company representative Lyndsey Craig, who attends about six job fairs a year. She said the primarily younger jobseekers at college job fairs are ideal, even if their job histories are meager.

“Maybe you took a wood shop class in high school and really liked creating things,” said Craig, adding that the company currently has 15 job openings. “We train our workers, so if you have a willingness to learn and enjoy working with your hands, we want to talk to you.”

Heather Welch, a job recruiter for Viejas Casino & Resort, said the economic recovery and Viejas’ plans to expand its casino and hotel has resulted in about a 30 percent increase in hiring since last year. She said many college students find the casino an ideal place to work while they’re pursuing their education because of flexible hours and the fun atmosphere.

Also represented at the career fair were government-sector employers such as the City and County of San Diego, the U.S. Army and U.S. Department of Justice. The public education sector was represented by the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, Cajon Valley Union School District, Grossmont Union High School District and UC San Diego. Private-sector employers included SeaWorld and PetSmart. Healthcare and financial services, as well as senior care providers, were also represented.

Lisa Rodriguez, a counselor at the college’s career center, which provided staffing and other support to the career expo, said the job market is looking the best it has in years for community college graduates and students.

“Employers are hiring in all sorts of areas,” Rodriguez said.

With the success of Wednesday’s career expo, the college’s career center is looking to expand the event to twice a year – once in the fall and a second time in the spring.

“The community and students need jobs year around,” said Kate Miller, a Career and Technical Education support specialist. “We would like to expand opportunities for people who are earnestly looking for jobs.”

The career center is open to the public and regularly conducts workshops for people to hone their job-hunting skills. It’s located in Room A200 in the Student Services One-Stop Center near the college’s main entrance at Fury Lane.