CARS HOMES JOBS

Big turnout at Albany job fair reflects tough job market

Friday, April 16, 2010
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— Job seekers were out in force at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on Thursday, looking for jobs, training and, in many cases, new hope.

Carmen Charleston was one of them. The 23-year-old resident of Schenectady’s Central State Street neighborhood said she had her hopes up as she visited the MVP Health Care booth. She said she finally found a position that utilized her bachelor’s degree in community health education.

“But they already started interviewing people, so I guess I’ll move on to the next thing,” Charleston said.

The December 2008 graduate of Ithaca College is struggling to pay back her student loans — the yearly cost of attending the private institution was more than $40,000. She lives at home and feels pressure from her parents to get a job, she said.

“I try to stay positive and tell myself that this is only temporary. I’ve been looking for a job but I do have a desire to go to grad school. But that costs money, too,” Charleston said. “When I don’t get that position or hear back, I think that hopefully that job went to someone who got laid off, who has a family and a mortgage, which I don’t have. Hopefully it goes to someone who really needs it.”

Schenectady-based MVP Health Care was one of 100 employers present at the career fair and had a list of nearly 40 open positions to pass out to job seekers Thursday.

The company employs about 1,700 people, almost 1,200 in downtown Schenectady. The rest are mostly concentrated in Rochester, but the company has smaller offices spread across upstate New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Kim Speck, director of talent acquisition for MVP Health Care, said the career fair was well attended by those seeking a career change and the unemployed.

“We have positions open in areas such as finance, customer service, information technology, coding and nursing, operations — really a wide range of opportunities at our company,” Speck said. “We were very busy. I don’t think we’ve seen a lull.”

The line to get in to the career fair was long.

“The entrance was packed up and the line to get in was out to the hallway,” Speck said.

There are more opportunities for job seekers to pitch their resumes and vie for local jobs.

The Albany Times Union Career Fair will be held at the Marriott Hotel at 189 Wolf Road in Colonie from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. May 11. The TU is also expected to sponsor additional career fairs July 14 and Oct. 11.

For Skidmore students, an event will be held today from 3 to 5 p.m. at the college’s Tang Museum focusing on career exploration, job search and interviewing tips and potential job opportunities. The Career Jam, organized by the Skidmore College Parents Council, will feature representatives from various career fields, including health care, finance, business, arts, communications and law.

The event will also feature an opportunity for students to network.

“No job search strategy is more important during a tight job market than networking. During this economic crisis competition for jobs has been particularly fierce and it is very challenging for candidates to gain visibility with employers who are deluged with applications,” Skidmore Career Services Director Michael Profita said in a statement.

Gail Dudack, a finance and equity market strategist and managing director of Dudack Research Group, and her husband, Pat Colombo, a business-retailing entrepreneur, are chair of the Parents Council and organized the Career Jam, Skidmore said.

Dudack said the biggest challenge for graduates is the economy and the state of the job market.

“This is, by many measures, the worst job market we have seen in a generation,” Dudack said. “The best advice I can give new graduates is to explore all opportunities, be patient, and be willing to work your way up in the company or area you are interested in pursuing. If all else fails, find temporary employment in the area you want to work in. Once you are in the door it is easier to see what jobs are available and be the first to apply for them.”

 
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