February 21st, 2024

U of L career fair helps job seekers make the leap into workforce


By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on September 21, 2023.

Herald photo by Theodora MacLeod Jenifer Blacklaws, Alberta Parks ranger team lead of the dinosaur division, discusses job opportunities with student Rylen Bowes during a career fair held Wednesday at the University of Lethbridge.

For many university students, the idea of life after school comes with an anxious uncertainty. If post-secondary is a steppingstone to adulthood, then entering the workforce is the final leap. Fortunately for students at the University of Lethbridge, Career Bridge hosted one of its twice annual career fairs on Wednesday in the First Choice Wellness Centre.

Open to both students and members of the public, the fair featured 86 organizations representing numerous sectors and career fields, as well as alternate options. From graduate programs and work abroad organizations, to school boards and provincial parks, there was something for everyone. Representing job markets throughout Alberta and western Canada, the prospective employers were on hand to answer questions.

Jason Kirbyson, Event and Outreach Coordinator for Career Bridge at the university, says the career fair has been part of the university’s career services for 34 years.

“We have employers that are looking for master’s students, we have employers looking for doctors, and then we also have entry level positions,” he explains, adding that many of the exhibitors present don’t have degree requirements for hiring.

Assistant Superintendent of High Prairie School Division, Treva Emter says school districts usually only attend the Winter semester career fair, but she’s travelled from the south shore of Lesser Slave Lake looking to fill two specific vacancies, a foods teacher, and a secondary humanities teacher. “Because we’re so small, we can offer support directly to the teachers,” she says. “We also have a strong philosophy of professional learning.”

For those looking for something on the more unconventional side, Paytten Fankhanel, promotions coordinator of the Away to Work program with International Rural Exchange Canada, is on campus to discuss international roles in areas such as agriculture, horticulture, and hospitality. “We set up work exchanges for Canadian citizens between the ages of 18-35 to go overseas to work abroad,” she says. The program works with international partners to facilitate the exchanges for both outbound Canadians and inbound international workers. “We’re a recognized organization under the Government of Canada’s program, International Experience Canada,” she explains, adding that the roles are paid and it’s a great opportunity to experience new places.

“It stands as a testament to our dedication to getting our students readiness and this event literally changes students’ lives,” Kirbyson says, having attended the career fair himself. “These employers will steer your career path and ultimately what you do with life and where you find passion.”

Though life after academia can be daunting, with constant talk of job market woes and the evolving career landscape, the opportunities presented at the University of Lethbridge’s career fair are vast and plentiful. Hopefully by the time the doors close some of the students attending can say they have a clearer image of what the future holds for them.

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