Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Organize a Student Job Fair: The Basics!

Job Fair Poster - Courtesy McMillan Memorial Library
Job Fair Poster
Courtesy McMillan Memorial Library
Guest post by Jennifer Bahnaman, Youth Services Librarian, McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids.  Jennifer shares her experience developing the Student Job Fair project at McMillan Memorial Library. 

This will be the fourth year the McMillan Memorial Library has offered the Student Job Fair in Wisconsin Rapids. The goal of our Student Job Fair is to help high school and college students find year-round jobs, seasonal positions and internships. Our library has been collaborating with the Boys & Girls Club, Incourage Community Foundation, and the Job Center to organize this event. In the past three years we have connected 600 students with local area businesses. What has made this program work so well, are the strong community partners that have worked very hard to make this a success. The Wisconsin Rapids Schools have also been a big proponent for promoting and supporting the Student Job Fair. The success is also a result of the supportive local businesses that have been participating each year.

This year’s event is happening on Monday, March 14, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Wisconsin Rapids. March is a great time for a Student Job Fair. The event has been scheduled before spring break, and it’s early enough in the season for businesses, like the City Parks and Rec Department and the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (collegiate summer baseball team), who are looking to fill summer positions. 

For location, the first year we held the event at the library in our largest meeting room with overflow into our commons area. We outgrew the program in the first year with 200 in attendance. Fortunately, our local Boys & Girls Club has a gym where we now hold the event.

Our budget is between $1,500-$2,000, with $500 donated from each sponsoring organization. The budget covers furniture rentals (chairs, tables), marketing costs (newspaper, flyer printing, banners, radio), as well as raffle prizes for the day of the event. The budget is something you can work with and make it affordable for your library or community organization. The first year our primary costs were flyer printing, a newspaper ad, and a gift card for a raffle prize.

Each year the number of participating businesses has grown. This year we will be at 40 businesses, all offering different opportunities. We work with the Chamber to recruit businesses. We also make many phone calls to connect with employers and encourage their participation in the event. It’s a unique opportunity for local businesses to support the youth in our community and to find a great pool of applicants all in one place.

To share the excitement, please watch this YouTube Video on the Job Fair!

The first year may seem to be the hardest year to recruit businesses and to sell the event to the community. As you promote and network each year, your community support will grow. You will be surprised by those who will reach out to you because they want to be involved. It may seem to be a daunting endeavor, but do not let it stop you. This is an event that can be organized at any level. I’ve also suggested for those communities where a Student Job Fair may not be the right choice, a Volunteer Fair may be a better option. This also gives students the opportunity to build experience and references, which will certainly help them when they’re ready to fill out job applications.

Please let me know if you would like to know more information, I would be happy to share with you. 
My email at McMillan Memorial Library is jbahnaman@mcmillanlibrary.org, and my office number is 715-422-5140.

Contributed by Jennifer Bahnaman, Youth Services Librarian, McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids