Job seekers make connections at UCC virtual job fair
Local employers were brought together to connect with UCC students during a virtual job fair created by UCC’s Student Job Placement Coordinator, Inez Orozco. The job fair occurred Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. as representatives of local businesses and organizations spoke with students over Zoom about current employment opportunities at workplaces such as Avalon Health Care, Callahan Court, Express Employment, Love’s Truck Stop, Maurice’s, SelecTemp, UCAN and WorkSource Douglas. This is one of multiple employment opportunities offered by UCC’s Career Services.
“The Virtual Job Fair takes the place of the job fair that was hosted here on campus,” Orozco said. “The main goal for the fair was to help students find work while they continue with their academic career and also to keep events going like they once did before the big changes of COVID.”
With COVID-19 and its effects on employment and the economy still present, students struggling to find sufficient work at this time used the fair to network or find a job. According to the Oregon Department of Employment, the unemployment rate in Douglas County has dropped to 7.9% in September. This has improved from the 16.2% rate that was seen in April of 2020 after the rush of lockdowns due to the pandemic.
As the Student Job Placement Coordinator, Orozco works with students on campus to find employment opportunities within the community while she herself is also working toward an AAOT degree. Orozco and UCC’s career coach make up the Career Services department at UCC. Orozco’s services include helping students to find resources, to navigate the employment process and to develop tools and skills like professional resumes, proper attire and positive attitudes.
For students like Dexter Patching, who is currently working toward an AAOT in music at UCC, events like the job fair provide a better opportunity to connect with possible employers than simply job searching online.
One of the virtual job fair guests was Brian Clark, the business team and training team lead for WorkSource Douglas. “It helps to talk to people who have had connections for years and years in the business community,” Clark said. “We have a good feel for the environment.”
WorkSource Douglas is the region’s local connection for WorkSource Oregon, part of the American Job Centers system coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. WorkSource Oregon is a network of public and private partners who provide services and resources to businesses and individuals to solve current issues in the workforce.
WorkSource Douglas connects employers and job seekers, provides job search assistance and helps job seekers develop skills. They also assist with unemployment filing and offer a variety of resources, training, opportunities and programs such as their Youth Program for ages 16 through 24 or their Easterseals sponsored Experience Works Program for job seekers ages 55 and older.
Clark explained that while fears related to the pandemic are a factor, local employers actually have insufficient workers. Even before the pandemic, this lack of workers was a reality, but now employers need people to work to try and keep their businesses from closing, according to Clark. This makes decent conditions for many job seekers, even students with unique work schedules.
Clark suggests full-time students should be forthcoming with employers about their schedules. He adds that an advertisement with a particular time schedule should not necessarily discourage a busy student from applying for a position.
“Put yourself out there,” Clark said. “You might be surprised how employers are making concessions.”
In addition to the need for workers on a general scale, the holiday season is also a large factor in finding employment.
“If you are looking for employment, you are in luck,” Clark said. “There is a lot more jobs available than you think. We are gearing up for the holiday season, and there is still a lot of jobs out there. But, don’t wait!”
These seasonal jobs can provide experience and the opportunity to potentially earn a more permanent position.
Mary Gallagher, a child development services supervisor for UCAN who represented the organization at the job fair, also encourages job seekers, especially students, to look for positions at businesses or organizations which have the potential for advancement. Gallagher’s experience at UCAN began with a similar position to one she was promoting at the fair.
“I began as a bus driver; I walked in not knowing anything,” Gallagher said. She then moved up in the organization with experience and training, eventually attaining her position as a supervisor. “I love my job. I have loved working with the children and families. We really become a culture of a family.”
Orozco is developing future events and resources, using Zoom or even phone conversations, for those looking for student job placement.
The next job fair will take place in the spring, either over Zoom or in person, depending on conditions at the time. The spring job fair is more focused on building connections for graduates. However, all students are welcome and encouraged to participate.
“You can talk to professionals in the fields you are interested in for later on, or you can look at job titles or opportunities to look out for,” Orozco said. “It is a great opportunity to build up connections and network.”
When students seek employment, Orozco suggests patience and kindness: “When it comes to looking for work, looking for work is work. The amount of effort you put into job searching is what you get out of it. Don’t give up. Try to get out of your comfort zone. There are so many opportunities. I am here to help give resources and suggest places that are hiring to ease that unwanted emotion that someone may be feeling. Just keep applying because something will come.”
For employment resources at UCC, Orozco can be contacted by phone at 541-440-7797 or by email at Job.Placement@umpqua.edu. Appointments with the student job placement coordinator can be made through Calendly. UCC students can also find resources and information in the UCC Library’s Douglas County Community Resource Guide.
For more information on WorkSource Douglas, located at 846 SE Pine St. in Roseburg, visit their Facebook or call 541-440-3344.
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