Photo Gallery | Bennington career and job fair
BENNINGTON — Upon walking into a career fair, seeing numerous employers and agencies surrounding a room might be intimidating. At Thursday's Career and Job Expo hosted by the Vermont Department of Labor, navigators assisted visitors in approaching particular tables.
"They're thankful for the help," navigator and Vermont Department of Labor employee John Murphy said. "I ask them what they're interested in, or if they're looking for a specific field and help them out. It's intimidating at first seeing all these people stand by."
The department hosts a fair twice a year and added the navigator component about a year and a half ago, according to Wendy Morse, Vermont Department of Labor regional manager.
"It helps make the approach from the job seeker to employer to establish a connection," she said. "They have the opportunity today to give their best impression. We've seen on-the-spot interviews and have people get hired. If we didn't do this, it would be a disservice to the community."
Roughly 28 employers were represented at the Bennington Fire House for the expo, including Adecco, Bennington Health & Rehab, Frito-Lay, Bromley Resort, Manpower, Inc., Oceanair Marine, ServPro, Sprint and Williams College, to name a few.
Also represented at the Expo was the Vermont Association of Business Industry and Rehabilitation (VABIR), a non-profit agency that assists disabled or those facing barriers to obtain a job. It partners with other nonprofits and corporations such as Home Depot, the Vermont Veterans Home and Meals On Wheels so that potential employees can have a trial run working without the full commitment. VABIR tracks its success with a database to see where employees are placed and how long they stay at an establishment. The organization also hosts a business recognition breakfast every year, according to William Pendlebury.
VABIR also offers education on "issues in working with individuals who have disabilities" and teaches basic interviewing and job accommodation skills, as stated on the organization's website.
For the first time, the Vermont School for Girls attended the fair in an effort to network and promote its program that aids traumatized girls ages 11 to 19.
Residential Program Coordinator Tammy Shupka represented the school and said, "It's helpful to having interaction right off the bat. I love my job and it's nice to get the positives out [about the school]."
The school provides a "safe and secure living arrangement to reprocess trauma," Shupka said.
The Career and Job Expo has been running since 2007, Morse said, and is a combined effort between the department, Southwest Vermont Career Development Center and the Bennington County Industrial Corporation.
"It's a mix of employers and agencies. We send notices to ones who have come in the past or have recruitment needs," she said. "We try to track as much as we know. There are matches, but how often, we don't know. Some may make a match but won't hire until later on. People might see employers every day and not know it. Whether five or 500 people come, it's a good opportunity for job seekers to experience the face-to-face interaction, informal or formal."
For more information visit labor.vermont.gov.
— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.