Job fair offers options in stagnant market

More than 25 employers – local and national – were on hand Wednesday to offer information and extend employment opportunities to Portland State University students at the Student Employment Job Fair.

Poster boards, candy, pens and paper were offered to entice students’ interests.

Rosemarie West, Portland State University student employment coordinator, said the fair was designed for students looking for local, part-time work while attending classes at the university.

“We do this to link employers with the PSU community,” West said.

West said the decline in Oregon’s economy had an effect on this fair.

“We’ve had up to 40 (booths) in the past, but today we’ve got 28,” West said. “I think it’s a reflection of the job market.”

The employment opportunities ranged from part-time, summer and temporary jobs to unpaid internships for students needing college credit or experience.

Costco, Target, OMSI, The Oregonian and even Disney World were just a few of the organizations represented at the fair.

One of the employers at the event was the United States Tennis Association.

The company’s booth was staffed by two PSU graduates, Lindsay Littlejohn and Sarrah Harding. Both work for the company as a result of the applications they turned in at last year’s fair.

Neither believe they would have the job they love had they not attended. They highly encouraged the continuation of the event because it offers such a great stepping stone to students coming out of college.

“I was just graduating from school, so the timing of the career fair was just perfect,” Littlejohn said.

Likewise, many PSU students, some dressed for interviews, others not, came to the fair looking to get a foot in the door and find some security within a struggling economy.

PSU senior Armando Espinoza heard about the event via e-mail and said he was glad the fair was put together, but didn’t find it helpful. Espinoza said he’s interested in getting involved in community development and transportation, and there was no representation of any jobs in his field.

“What I am looking for is not here,” Espinoza said. “It’s not really focusing on people who are exiting the university.” He perceived the fair as being geared more “for the people who are looking to get experience or venture toward something maybe they haven’t received in school.”

However, he did note he applied at the forestry booth because he could gain more experience to coincide with his environmental studies background, as well as the convenience of its location near his residence.

“But overall I think it’s a brilliant idea to have these things every now and then to produce the opportunities of pursuit,” Espinoza said. “You know things are bad right now and things are being cut, especially for the students.”