SMC hosts annual career fair

Published 12:52 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — One local school was buzzing with career opportunities this week.

Southwestern Michigan College hosted its inaugural Career Fair Wednesday at the Mathews Conference Center East in the library building on the Dowagiac campus.

Open to the community as well as SMC students, the fair gave participants the chance to meet and interact with more than 60 companies about career and internship opportunities across a variety of fields, including agriculture, automotive, financial, health care, manufacturing, public service and telecommunications.

“It spans the variety of programs that we offer,” said SMC Career Development Manager Melinda Stickwell. “We try to touch base with all the programs that we have, as well as for our dual enrolled students, to have part-time employment for summer. We try to reach everybody; when they’re exploring careers, it gives the students a chance that aren’t graduating yet to take a look at what’s out there and then for students that are graduating or maybe need an internship to get some work experience before they graduate, this is an opportunity for them to connect with local employers and some national employers too.”

For Stockwell, keeping the fair open to the community was important.

“It’s one thing we feel like we can serve the community by providing this connection to employers and to just help with that,” she said.

A recent trend Stockwell has noticed is a rise in both interest and demand for criminal justice, manufacturing, medical and trade programs. For the businesses and organizations on hand, the career fair was an opportunity they could not pass up.

“It’s always good to be out in the community, especially in a positive manner, ” said Cass County Director of Animal Control Ron Butts. “We’re law enforcement, but we’re also members of the community as well, too.”

“It’s been really positive,” said Niles Scream Park Community Outreach Coordinator Roberta McCllen. “There’s been a lot of interest. I’m more so recruiting for volunteers but we’re stressing that volunteerism always looks really good on a resume, so when they do join the workforce, if they’re able to commit to a volunteer project, they’re probably willing to commit to employment as well. It’s been really good.”

The fair also provided organizations a chance to network with each other.

 “I think it’s a big opportunity,” said Niles Community Schools Human Resource Manager Ana Bolanos. “It’s nice to be here to interact with the local individuals. We also talk to the companies and see what they’re about, what they’re offering and take it to our high school students who are still trying to figure stuff out. I engage with them to see what they’re about and just give them ideas on which way to go. It’s a great opportunity.”