Alle-Kiski Job Fair attracts students, alumni and community

Job fair participants

Former Penn State New Kensington student Jessica Bonk, left, a recruiter for Carol Harris Staffing, talks to a prospective employee Oct. 6 during the Alle-Kiski Job Fair at the campus. 

Credit: Eric Bennardo

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Hundreds of job seekers and recruiters descended on Penn State New Kensington’s Athletics Center on Oct. 6 for the annual Alle-Kiski Job Fair. The event is geared toward students, alumni and community members who are seeking part- or full-time employment and internships.

The fair included more than 50 employers from industries throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley, including health care, engineering, information technology, business, communications, law enforcement, military and various service-based professions. More than 300 local job seekers interviewed with regional companies regarding employment opportunities in various fields, such as finance, retail and manufacturing.

Because the New Kensington campus recommends all students to secure internships, regardless of their field of study, career-training positions were a priority for many campus students at the fair. Jay Wu, a senior administration of justice major, went looking for a position in law enforcement, with local or state police or a security agency.

“I would like to have a career in policing or juvenile justice, so speaking to the officers at the state police booth was my priority,” said Wu, who will graduate in the spring. “I never attended a job fair at the campus before, and I must say I was very impressed by the plethora of information that the employers had available to job seekers, both regarding internships and paid jobs.”

Many alumni in attendance were looking for their first post-graduate jobs or a career changes. Samuel Lombardo, a 2016 graduate of the campus’ four-year information sciences and technology program, was getting leads for an opportunity to prove his workforce mettle.

“I was primarily seeking internships in my respective field,” Lombardo said. “I’ve been to several job fairs on campus before.”

Former campus student and 1987 Penn State alumnus Randall Ryan set his sights on a paid position. He enjoyed a long business career before losing his job due to an economic downturn.

"I majored in business logistics, and I am very proud of my career and prior employment experiences," Ryan said. "Since being downsized from a former employer in 2014, I was forced to change in order to be more marketable.”

For the past two years Ryan has worked as a table games dealer at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

"Card playing has always been in my blood, so with my experience, acquired gaming skills and interest, why not turn it into a positive opportunity?" said Ryan, who also referees football and umpires baseball.

Although the Lower Burrell resident is at home in his new position, he would like to transition back into his original career field. Ryan considers the Alle-Kiski Job Fair “a good place to search for new opportunities.”

Another former campus student at the fair was working the other side of the aisle. Jessica Bonk, who began her college career at the New Kensington campus and finished at the University Park campus, is a staff manager at Carol Harris Staffing, an employment agency in New Kensington. She was working as a recruiter at the fair. Bonk is using her position as a stepping stone to a career is designing, especially video game design.

“While working at Carol Harris, I have also been working part time as a studio assistant, as well as a freelance designer,” said Bonk, who received a degree in interdisciplinary digital studios in 2014.

In addition to several newcomers to the job fair who were seeking employment, there was a new vendor. The Kiski Area School District decided the New Kensington campus would be a perfect venue to talk to prospective employees.

“We are very impressed by the event as well as the campus in general,” said Jim Perlik, director of building and grounds for the school district. “We really like the layout, it was very roomy.”

Perlik, along with his colleague Meredith Bailey, food services director, had a positive experience as first-time participants. They had praise for the quality of students interested in careers with the school district, as well as the fair’s planning committee.

“Several dozen students approached us, with many of them offering resumes and having a genuine interest in employment with the school district,” Bailey said. “Our experience has been all positive.”

“The campus leadership and event organizers were very welcoming and accommodating,” Perlik added. 

Jim Shields, associate director of career services and professional development programs at the campus, and Pat Hollinger, director of continuing education, organized the fair with a committee of representatives from Pennsylvania CareerLink of Alle-Kiski, local chambers of commerce, and area businesses.

For more about career resources at the campus, visit Penn State New Kensington Career Services online.


Bill Woodard

Alumni and Public Relations Specialist

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