Get a job!

Career symposiums are a valuable resource, if you know how to use them

Navigating your way past endless booths, tables and sharply dressed HR personnel in a room lit by buzzing fluorescent lights can be an exhausting task - but if it lands you a job it’s all worth it, right?

That’s the argument for attending next week’s career symposium for the City of Winnipeg on Oct. 7 at the RBC Convention Centre. The symposium is in its third year and attendance has grown exponentially since it began in 2010.

“About 2,000 people attended the first symposium,” says Lisa Fraser, communications officer with the City of Winnipeg. “In 2012, about 4,000 people attended.”

But not everyone is keen to jump on the job fair bandwagon. 

“Since coming to university, I have deliberately avoided career and job fairs,” Shanae Blaquiere, a second-year rhetoric and communications student says. “I always assume that they won’t have anything that pertains to my interests.” 

Third-year student Desta Tataryn agrees. “I have been to a job fair before a few years ago, but I didn’t take anything away from it other than a bunch of free notepads, pens, and reusable bags.”

The City of Winnipeg is one of the largest employers in Manitoba with an average headcount of 10,143 employees in 2013. And although road workers and law enforcement are the most visible city employees, employment opportunities with the City vary.

“The City hires IT professionals, tradespeople, city planners, lab assistants, biologists, librarians, people working in animal services, landscapers, administrative professionals, police officers, firefighters, paramedics,” Fraser says. “There really is such a wide range of areas of study that would be of interest to university students.”

Keira Janzen, a third-year student, agrees with Fraser about the value of job fairs.

“I found it really helpful,” Janzen says. “If you go and really ask questions and make connections, you get a lot out of it.”

Katherine Breward, an assistant professor in the University of Winnipeg’s Business and Administration faculty, says making connections and networking is the reason for the event.

“Sometimes when I talk to students about networking they roll their eyes a little bit,” Breward says, “You’ve heard it so much, to the point when it becomes meaningless. But there’s a reason that I emphasize networking.”

A 2007 study by the Administrative Association of Canada shows that 39.5 per cent of all new Canadian jobs in 2005 were obtained through family and friends, and 21.9 per cent through personal initiative. Employment through job fairs accounts for 0.4 per cent of new jobs.

“That means that 61.4 per cent of new jobs were a direct result of networking,” Breward says. “By contrast, the Internet only accounted for 7.2 per cent of new jobs.

“When you go to a career symposium, you might collect a whole bunch of business cards, and you wonder why you’re doing this,” Breward adds. “But you don’t just go home and put those cards away and never look at them. You actually use them to make connections and build relationships. That’s how people are
getting work.” 

This year’s symposium will be the first where the City will accept applications for open positions.

The City of Winnipeg Career Symposium is Oct. 7 from 12 - 7 p.m. at the RBC Convention Centre, 3rd floor, 375 York Ave.

Published in Volume 69, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 1, 2014)

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