Work It

October 5, 2012 | Borough of Manhattan Community College

Recently, BMCC’s Office of Career Development and ASAP program teamed up to host a Retail Career Fair in the college’s gymnasium.

More than 30 companies seeking part-time employees set up booths, and hiring managers met with BMCC students, all dressed in business attire.

Many students engaged in practice interview sessions with staffers from the Office of Career Development before attending the fair.

Hire me, please
Companies in attendance included H&M, Nassau County Police Department, ValPak, Ann Taylor, Workforce One, Sketchers, and more.

“There are no classes today because tonight begins a Jewish holiday,” explained Michael Stahl, an advisor for ASAP. “And look at this amazing turnout,” he added, referring to the hundreds of BMCC students lined up outside the gym, waiting for their chance to enter the fair.

“Lots of students showed up early, and they don’t even have class today,” continued Stahl. “That speaks volumes about why these fairs are so crucial in today’s economy.”

According to Stahl, “flexible hours” attract BMCC students to retail careers.

“You’d be surprised when retail experience may come into play. Recruiters from Chase bank told me they prefer hiring employees with retail experience,” explained Stahl, who, as an ASAP advisor, helps match students to jobs. “It shows the employee works well in a fast-paced enviornment, which in turn, prepares them to be bank tellers.”

From the experts
Mike Jones, an Executive Director for Marshalls, was pre-interviewing students on the spot. If they seemed like “a great fit” for a job at a Marshalls store, he planned to pass their information on to a store manager.

“We will absolutely hire people who don’t have retail experience,” he said. “In a way, they’re being molded for the job and posses a strong willingness to learn as much as they can, since it’s their first job,” he said, adding that he was asking students their availability and where they lived, so he can best match them to a specific store.

“And there is room for growth,” added Jones. “We’ll take you to the next level.”

Liberal Arts major Cheyenne Dalmas attended the Retail Fair. She’s interested in the fashion industry and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the business-end of fashion.

“I’d love to work on the corporate side of a retail clothing company,” she said. “My mother did that; she worked in retail for a store and worked her way up to a corporate position.”

Well-organized’ event
Kimberly Merritt, Talent Manager for sunglass hut, called the Retail Career Fair “amazing.” Her booth had a particularly long line of students waiting to submit resumes.

“We’re in the process of recruiting 18 students,” she said. “We look for individuals that are incredibly friendly, passionate, energetic, and always smiling.”

Kristine Irizarry, Project Coordinator for CUNY 311, collected 70 resumes. She sang the praises of BMCC students.

“The event was well-organized. Students were professional and well-prepared to meet with employers,” she said. “We hire CUNY students who are in good standing to work part-time hours at the 311 call center. We have several students who began their employment while attending BMCC and have graduated to other CUNY schools.”

First-timers were curious
Business Administration major Rayon Vangenderen has customer service experience. His dream job is “to work for a non-profit that allows for overseas travel.”

What makes his resume stand out? “I can speak conversational Chinese—and I’m not from China. A former girlfriend taught me, and I’m taking a Chinese course here at BMCC.”

Liberal Arts major Mark Norman—who is interested in the music industry—attended the retail fair for a good reason—he was curious.

“I figured it couldn’t hurt to find out who’s hiring, especially in today’s market,” he said. “This is my first job fair and I wanted to see what it’s like. It’s so nice that BMCC offers this to students. The college wants to help us succeed and grow.”

And, an offer…
“I give the students a lot of credit for showing up today, when there aren’t classes,” said Melba Olmeda, Director of the Center for Career Development. “The employers were looking for students that had the right attitude for a specific type of job. We were thrilled with the turnout.”

According to Driada Rivas, a coordinator in the Center for Career Development, “over 900 students attended! They were very energized and eager to meet employers. Additionally, more than 300 students said they were offered an opportunity to apply or interview for a position, which is great.”