Career Fair Plans Aid students Employment

It's almost time for Santa Monica College students to have the chance to challenge themselves; by putting their skills and mastery of becoming gainfully employed, to test.

Not only that, but SMC students might land themselves a "free [from hassle] and flexible plan" of employment that will favor their ailing personal pocketbooks.

"It's a great opportunity; these employers are here because of you. They want you," said SMC student and career center assistant, Glenda Johnson. "It's not like you have to go out job hunting or something; they are looking for you."

On Thursday May 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the library, the Career Services Center will host the "Career Island" job fair. There will be a slew of employers, many of who will be conducting interviews on sight, that are looking for students to immediately fill available positions. In addition, serious minded students may sign up in advance to participate in one or more of what Marcia A. Lewis Bernard, employment specialist and event designer, is calling their, "Three Big Games: Career Island Apprentice, Career Island Survival Game, and Career Island Weakest Link."

"We're going to put together work related scenarios... customer-service related issues and problem-solving kinds of things, and whoever comes up with the best solution to the problems will win," said Bernard. Prizes are being kept secret and Bernard's only comment about them are that they are "good ones," and will be awarded to winners in each game show setting.

To help things along, a few Career Service Center specialists will assume the roles of big-named television personalities. Faculty Leader, Vicki B. Rothman will play Donald Trump in the Career Island Apprentice, and Department Secretary, Debra Joseph- Locke, who is also from England, will represent the original Weakest Link host, Anne Robinson.

"Let me just tell you that Marcia is so creative, that all of our job fairs have themes, and they are always, always fun," said Rothman, who makes a face at donning Trump's name, but is "doing it for the team." Previous fairs have had themes such as Hawaiian, where staff dressed up in grass skirts and other Luau attire, and Halloween, where they dressed in costumes and gathered under the auspice(this word cannot go here. It means a sign for a happy or promising future. I can't seem to think of another word to replace it. See if you can think up something, I'll keep trying too.) that "being unemployed can be scary."

That is why the Career Center works so hard to create exciting events for both employers and students alike; so that always versus "never the twain shall meet," students will be able to support themselves while receiving an education. "Our goal is to make it easy for students to find jobs that are going to be understanding that they have to go to school, and that that is their priority," said Bernard.

Employers attending the fair include Nordstrom, the Gap, Casa Del Mar, the FBI, Warner Music Group, Bank of America, Cedar Sinai, and many others. Each employer pays an $85 fee ahead of time to be part of the event. That fee provides them with a table and chairs, continental breakfast followed latter with a full lunch, a pen sporting the Career Center logo, a backpack containing information on how to further assist SMC with its employment efforts, and some already filled out applications from current students. There is also a handbook included, entitled the "Employers Survival Guide" and prizes for the most outstanding employers.

The event is timely considering recent budget cuts that are severely restricting financial aid and have caused SMC's Federal Work Study to no longer be able to fund student work-study past May 15 and has limited students with existing jobs on campus to work 10 hours a week, down from 20.

"Ok, that's $70," said Johnson, who will be looking at the job fair for other employment opportunities. "So on campus, jobs aren't really an option any more if you have any bills to pay, and your mom and dad aren't taking care of you."

At the fair, students can pick up applications, find out what jobs are available at each business, and have the possibility of being selected on the spot for an interview. As for the games, any student can be a contestant as long as they make it over to the Career Center by May 11, the day before the event, to sign up.

Besides organizing job fair extravaganzas, the Career Center helps students with application writing, interviewing, career counseling, and internships, just to name a few of the services available to any SMC student who is willing to walk through their door.

"Our biggest thing is that we would like to see more traffic in here - that people are not using us until they are desperate," Rothman said. "But I don't know how to encourage people to get in here. That's one of our goals right now; to figure out ways to market to get people in here before they are in a panic."