Finding Careers, Finding Hope

Career Days 2014 serves everybody in the community looking for jobs      



Almost 800 people attended the 2014 Career Days job fair, which hosted representatives from 50 different employers.

The numbers are in from this year’s Career Days, and they show what many at the college and in the community already knew: Clark College’s week-long program for job-hunters is growing stronger every year. This year, more than 1000 job-seekers attended one or more Career Days events, which included workshops, clinics, job and transfer fairs, panel discussions, and expert presentations.

As always, events began before the official April 21 – 24 run of Career Days with the opening of the Career Clothing Closet the Thursday and Friday of the week before. This year, more than 200 students received free interview outfits of gently worn professional clothing donated by members of the community.

Officially, however, Career Days kicked off on Monday, April 21, with an employer panel featuring representative from Adidas, The Boeing Company, and Madden Industrial. The Ellis Dunn Community Room in Gaiser Hall was filled with students and guests ready for tips on what these employers were looking for. One key need: skilled technicians in fields like machining, welding, and carpentry. “There’s a shortage here in the Portland area,” said Randy Shelton of Madden Industrial.


Visitors at the 2014 Career Days job fair had a chance to speak directly with representatives from employers in the region.

Michael Lushenko of Boeing agreed. “There’s a shortage of people who know how to make parts,” he said. “Our engineers tend to have at least a bachelor’s degree, but machining is an area where we are happy to look at people with two-year degrees.”

Lushenko cautioned that the job market has become more competitive recently, in part because of the increasing popularity of the Pacific Northwest as a place where people from other parts of the country would like to move. “I’ve been hiring for 15 years,” he said. “It used to be a I got a lot of local residents applying. Now I’m getting a lot of applicants from the East Coast and the South.”

Fortunately, Career Days offered local job-hunters many opportunities to gain an edge over other competitors. One popular presenter was Bobby Castaneda, director of business development at the Vancouver-based ACS Professional Staffing. “He was a participant on our employer panel last year,” said Career Services Program Specialist Sarah Weinberger, who chaired the Career Days committee. “Attendees enjoyed his role on the panel, so we brought him back this year to present his own workshop.”

Attendees also flocked to hear Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies. The biggest draw of the program, however, remained the job fair, held April 23. Nearly 800 job-seekers attended the event, which for the second year in a row was at full capacity with 50 employers represented; employers included Boeing, Columbia Machine, C-Tran, EarthLink, and Evergreen School District 112. The fair also included a photo booth where job-hunters could get a professional photo taken to use on their LinkedIn profiles. This feature was back for the second year in a row, as was the Penguin Passport, an incentive for visitors to attend multiple events. Passport prizes this year included an iPad Mini, a Fit Bit Flex, free pizza for a year from Papa Murphy’s, and gift baskets from local companies.


Vancouver resident Patti James stands in the Career Center after receiving advice on her resume during Career Days 2014.

The program also included a drop-in resume clinic, during which job-seekers could have their resumes reviewed by trained human-resources professionals. Anne-Marie Rupert, a human resources professional who is currently a stay-at-home mother, was one volunteer reviewing resumes at the clinic. She said one of the key mistakes many job-seekers made was not understanding how much experience they actually have.

“What I’ve realized is that their resumes are brief, but what they’ve actually accomplished is impressive,” she said. “So helping them to get their accomplishments on paper has been the key thing I’ve been doing.”

Patti James, a Certified Nursing Assistant who was looking to change careers, said she came to Career Days specifically for help with her resume. “I haven’t done a resume for so long,” said the mother of five. “I was in my last job for 19 years.”

James said she had a completely new resume after speaking with Rupert. “She actually helped me to create a resume with the right keywords,” she said. “I didn’t realize you could create a resume that talked exactly about the skills an employer was looking for. And she made me realize I had more experience than I thought.”

While the majority of Career Days attendees are Clark College students, the college hosts the program as a service for anyone in the community who could use help in finding a job. James, who lives in Vancouver, is not a student; she saw an ad for the event on Craigslist and decided to visit.

“I think it’s wonderful that they have this event for all of us who are looking for work,” she said. “I was scared they’d throw me out when I said I wasn’t a student. I said, ‘I’m nobody, can I still be here?’

“Instead they just laughed and said, ‘You’re somebody! Come on in!'”

Photos: Clark College/Jenny Shadley