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UGA’s Alumni Career Fair helps out-of-work graduates

Get a job

Dorothy Camerio (BBA ’70) (left) talks with Kristen Taylor (BSEd ’05), a recruiter for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, during an Alumni Career Fair at Gwinnett Center.

Photo by: DOT PAUL

It’s one thing to be a recent college grad looking for a job in a bad economy. It’s another to be an alumnus 10 to 20 years out of college looking for a job.

The UGA Career Center is trying to make it easier on older grads with programs that address their needs directly.

Nearly 600 alumni turned out for an Alumni Career Fair in June in Gwinnett County. One of them, Dorothy Camerio (BBA ’70), retired three years ago after a 21-year career. She was back in the job market after her husband’s job as a homebuilder collapsed due to the poor economy.

Prior to the job fair, Camerio had sought help with her resume from UGA’s Alumni Career Services Center in Buckhead. With that in hand, she was ready to meet with representatives from Randstad and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, two of the 100 businesses recruiting at the fair.

“I think [the career fair] is wonderful. I can’t say enough about it,” Camerio says between meetings with businesses at the fair. “I feel like it has helped me. Their assistance has given me a chance to begin this new part of my life.”

Nicole Lechene, director of alumni career services, says requests for help from alumni began to pick up several years ago as the economy turned south.

“There were a number of alumni coming back wanting help,” Lechene says. “Based on the number of alumni seeking help through our online resources, we knew there was a need for it.”

The first alumni career fair was held in 2006 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Cobb County. June’s fair featured jobs from nearly every business sector, including those featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s annual list of “Atlanta’s Best Places to Work” and two of the UGA Alumni Association’s 100 Fastest Growing Bulldog Businesses, Aflac and Kauffman Tire.

Alumni begin entering the ballroom at 11 a.m., first stopping at the check-in table to deliver copies of their resumes. Alumni career services uses the resumes to collect information about job seekers so that they don’t have to spend time filling out forms.

Once inside, guides are available to help job seekers locate the companies they want to approach and find out if they meet the job requirements of those companies.

Within an hour the ballroom is filled with well-dressed alumni, many just a few years out of college, others looking for a new career after 20-30 years in the work force.

“There are a lot of gray-haired guys here,” jokes Roger Stanton (ABJ ’78, MMC ’95), who worked for the Borders Corporation before the company went bankrupt.

Roger Stanton (ABJ ’78, MMC ’95) (left) chats with James Baylor about jobs in media and advertising sales with the Cox Media Group.

By 12:30 Stanton has spoken to representatives from six companies and is heading over to talk with someone from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I think it’s more productive than most fairs,” he says. “It’s definitely helped me just by getting me out there, meeting people, dropping off resumes and talking.”

Nicole Montgomery, a human resource business partner for the Hertz Corporation, is at the career fair with the company’s manager of college recruits, John Calvo. They are looking for alumni to join their manager-training program and for candidates for a sales coordinator position in their equipment rental department.

“I was surprised and happy to see so many alumni,” Montgomery says. “I was also impressed with the quality of the alumni. They were very professional and well-prepared. It really does make a difference for us to see a polished alumnus when we are looking to hire.”

In addition to the career fair, the career services office offers programs like “Career Kick Start,” a four-week career development workshop at the Atlanta Alumni Center in Buckhead, and one free appointment with a career consultant. The UGA Career Center website provides links to other resources to help job seekers design resumes, write cover letters and look for open positions online. Alumni also have free, lifetime access to DawgLink, UGA’s online job board.

To David Ellin (BBA ’80), it just makes sense for UGA to provide career resources to its graduates.

“The university owes itself to help graduates find jobs,” says Ellin, who attended the job fair to see what opportunities were available. “Connection to its alumni is vital.”

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