Hundreds of college students did some speed dating on Wednesday with prospective employers at CSU Monterey Bay's career fair, where the possibilities ranged from full-time career opportunities to unpaid internships.
The fair, which was open to the public, was significantly larger than a similar event last year, attracting more than 50 vendors, compared with 30 in 2011.
"We put together a bigger, more ambitious event this year. We were more aggressive about inviting people this year," said Thomas Rogers, a career adviser who served as coordinator of the event.
"Every recruiter who's here is hiring right now, so for someone who's looking for part-time work, this is very helpful," he said, adding that vendors also offered internships and scholarships. "There are also some full-time jobs, although our spring job fair is geared more toward full-time job hunters because that's when a lot of our students are set to graduate."
Bright-eyed prospects filed past dozens of tables manned by representatives from industries such as retail, hospitality, communications, agriculture and education.
Clarence Edwards, owner of Clarence Electric in Seaside, was looking for people interested in entering the construction industry, which faces a shortage of prospects.
"The reason is that everybody's going tech," he said. "They're not realizing that there's great opportunity in the construction industry, especially in electronics, because somebody has to wire all of those things the techs are using and maintain systems that are part of our everyday usage.
Electrical systems run 24 hours a day, every day of the year, he said, and require qualified people to repair and maintain them.
"It's not a handyman job your husband can do over a weekend. If he messes it up, he runs a serious risk of damaging the home or it could cost him his life," he said.
The prospect he sought at Wednesday's fair was somebody with strong people skills, as opposed to somebody with prior electrical training.
"Teaching the technical side of electricity is easy. Teaching somebody how to be a people person and communicate well with the clients we serve ... that's a different story," he said. "Likability is very important in today's industry."
Karolina Redondo, a sophomore majoring in psychology, was looking for a career in forensic psychology, counseling or psychiatry.
"I came here today to see what my options are and see what's available, and I feel like I found something — Peacock Acres has an intern position available, so I'm going to apply there," Redondo said of the Salinas-based organization that helps youth in foster care.
Tyler Grove, a CSUMB senior from Santa Cruz, said he feels positive about his opportunities after graduation.
"My area is cellular molecular biology, working in a research lab, and from what I've heard, that market isn't so bad. A lot of my friends have been hired," he said.
For many job hunters, the fair represented one of their first opportunities to interview for a job and get a better feel for what a prospective employer might seek in an applicant.
Cherie Perdue, business development specialist for Comcast Spotlight, sat behind one of the recruitment tables with a unique goal.
"I need to replace myself," she said. "I want somebody who wants a full-time job and is highly motivated to work on their own, independently, and be creative."
Her colleague, senior account executive Dominic Martellaro, tossed in a job-hunting tip: "We're looking for somebody wearing a tie," he said.
Dennis Taylor can be reached at 646-4344 or email@example.com.