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Cascade Job Fair gives unemployed and employers hope

Story by Abe Proctor. Photo by James Hill.

Last year, Lori Deringer needed a job. She was enrolled at the Cascade Campus, taking classes toward a nursing degree, but in the meantime she needed a way to pay her bills. But as anyone who is looking for work these days can attest, the job market is tough.

Last year, 1,300 job-seekers used the services and representatives on hand at the Cascade Job Fair.

Enter the annual Cascade Job Fair.

Working with Becky Washington, a coordinator at the Cascade Career Resource Center, Deringer polished her résumé and learned about ways to connect with prospective employers. Washington helped her pick out four or five employers at the 2010 job fair with which she might be a good match.

One of those employers was Liberty Mutual Insurance. At the 2010 fair, Deringer met with representatives from Liberty Mutual. By the time she left, she had obtained contact information and, more importantly, made a personal connection with the company. Thirty days later, she was hired to work at Liberty Mutual’s Tigard office. She works in the legal department, helping the company’s lawyers to draft documents and organize their cases. Thanks to her love of statistics and her new job, she aspires to one day become an actuary.

“Meeting people through the Job Fair is a really helpful first step,” she said. “The setting helps to take away your fear of talking and creates a rapport. If you can break the ice with an employer at the job fair, it can help your chances.”

Every year, the Cascade Job Fair connects 1,300 job seekers to employers from all over the metro area and beyond. This year’s event – the 14th annual edition – is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday, April 26, Physical Education Building gymnasium, Cascade Campus 705 N. Killingsworth St. The job fair will feature more than 30 employers from a wide range of industries, including Portland General Electric, Verizon Wireless and KGW, among others.

“Whether you are exploring your options or ready to look for a job, the Cascade Job Fair is a great place to start,” Washington said. “The last few years we’ve had people lined up around the block before we open.”

Washington added that it’s a good idea to prepare – and dress – for the job fair as if you were going to an interview. It’s also wise to find out ahead of time, which employers most interest you and learn more about them.

“We post all of the employers on our website with a link to their jobs,” she said. “We also post ‘Fair Tips’ on our site.”

Deringer said an excellent way to prepare best for the fair is to work with Washington and her colleagues in the Cascade Career Center.

“Everyone should take advantage of the resources in the Career Center,” she said. “My experience working with Becky and her staff was phenomenal. I wouldn’t have found my job without their help or the job fair.”

For more information about the 2011 Cascade Job Fair, visit: http://www.pcc.edu/resources/careers/fairs/cascade/

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