The Center for Career and Professional Development and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at Western Carolina University hosted the biannual Catamount Career and Networking Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday Feb. 12. The event features employers from all over the region and in various fields. Students can network with professionals in their desired fields, find full-time and part-time jobs, as well as volunteer work, learn about graduate school opportunities and even get free professional headshots.
“Some of the major goals are to bring employers out to Cullowhee to be available to students we know it can sometimes be hard for students to make those connections,” said Courtney Gauthier, associate director of career integrated learning for the CCPD.
Employers in different fields such as healthcare, contracting, outdoor recreation, law enforcement and many others attended the fair. Vaya Health, a public-managed healthcare organization provides services and support related to substance abuse and mental health for people who don’t have health insurance. Vaya Health had a variety of job opportunities, not only for students in healthcare fields but for finance, communications and social work students as well.
Gauthier emphasized that students attending the fair have opportunities to find jobs in places that may not seem specifically geared towards their major.
“Don’t judge an employer just by the name of their organization, they need employees in every different department and division that they have. So it’s always worth it to go up and ask and inquire, and when they say things like ‘all majors’ they might mean all majors.”
The NC Department of Public Safety was an example of this. They’re looking for employees from all majors for positions such as managers, food service officers, social workers, mental health, maintenance, processing assistants and many more.
Other companies, businesses and organizations came to the event looking for students with specific areas of expertise. Drake Enterprises, Ltd. is a company that designs online tax preparation solutions and educates a tax preparation community. Drake is looking for Accountancy, Accounting, Computer Information Systems, Computer Science and Mathematics majors.
Another goal for the Career and Networking Day is to provide a networking opportunity for students.
“We call it the Career and Networking Day so part of it is definitely to come find good opportunities…but then just to build your network and start getting used to talking to employers, introducing yourself and building those connections,” said Gauthier.
Even if students were not looking for jobs or internships, they had the opportunity to practice their networking skills for when they need to connect with important people in their fields.
Cameron Alexander, peer mentor and student leader for the CCPD as well as a senior at Western Carolina, has attended Career and Networking Day all four years that he has been a student.
“There’s just so much opportunity,” said Alexander. “I mean today we had a girl come up to the [CCPD] table and she said she got a job out of this thing.”
Gauthier hopes that each year the career fair continues to bring a diverse range of employers.
“I think one of our goals every year is just to … make sure we aren’t too heavily loaded in any segment of the population or types of industry…It can be a little tricky because part of who comes to this are employers who are maybe looking for multiple positions so it makes sense for them to come out and recruit and go to campuses versus maybe places that are hiring one or two students that get plenty of applicants on their own,” said Gauthier.
CCPD offers a variety of services to students including drop-in hour from 2-4 p.m. on Mondays-Fridays where students can have their resumes and cover letters reviewed. The also provide assistance for job searching, career/major counseling, general career questions and graduate school preparation. To learn more about CCPD visit wcu.edu/learn/academic-enrichment/ccpd/visit-ccpd.aspx or visit Reid 150.