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Students talk to prospective employers

Career Fair connects students and employers

Before attending the college’s Spring Career Fair this May, criminal justice student Gavin Moss thought he had a pretty good idea of his future goals.

“I’ve always really appreciated nature and the outdoors and I want to protect it for future generations,” Moss said. “So with my interest in criminal justice, I’m interested in becoming a fishing and game warden or a conservation officer.”

But at the encouragement of Criminal Justice Instructor Teana Robbins, Moss decided to stop by the fair to talk with representatives of several law enforcement agencies in attendance, including the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, Sunnyside Police Department and Yakima County Juvenile Court.

“Quite frankly I was incredibly surprised by the incentive programs and the many bonuses and other encouraging factors to join these agencies,” Moss said. “It was a good opportunity to expand my horizons in the criminal justice field and see exactly where my future in this field can take me.”

Hosted by the college’s Workforce Education Division (WED), the May 16 event brought nearly 30 employers to campus looking to connect with YVC students about career opportunities. Among the attendees were several health care providers, early learning providers and K-12 school districts, police and criminal justice agencies, substance abuse treatment providers and more.

“Seeing so many employers participate in the fair demonstrates that the college is preparing students with the skills and knowledge that are in high demand.” — Melissa Green, Director, Workforce Education Division

Trooper Heather Axtman, a recruiter for the Washington State Patrol, was among those at the fair and said YVC is an attractive location to find candidates for a wide range of positions.

“We see a lot of good people at YVC. We have a lot of excellent interactions with the students and faculty,” Axtman said.

While patrol officers are what comes first to mind when people think about careers with the Washington State Patrol, Axtman noted that most of the agency’s staff aren’t commissioned officers.

“Sometimes people think the state patrol is not a career option because they only typically see the patrol officers,” she said. “But we have communication officers, commercial vehicle officers, human resources, payroll, all the positions that we need to make sure the state patrol runs successfully. So we’d love to show them how their life goals and experiences fit our positions and could benefit the state patrol.”

Student talks to job recruiter
A YVC student talks to a recruiter from the Washington Department of Children, Youth & Families during the college's Spring Career Fair.

In addition to connecting with potential employers, students also had an opportunity to participate in free workshops on interviewing skills, how to build a professional network and more.

Students and alumni also were able to learn more about Handshake, an online student-centered job board recently adopted by the college. Through Handshake, current students and recent graduates can find jobs and internship opportunities for virtually any career as the app is used by more than 400,000 employers, including many in the Central Washington region.

Axtman noted that the Washington State Patrol takes advantage of Handshake to connect with students and recent graduates, as well as learn about job fairs and other recruitment events that they can take part in.

“I’ve worked in the state patrol since 2008 and spent the last two and a half years as a recruiter,” she said. “I love going out in communities and showing what the state patrol has to offer.”

WED Director Melissa Green said the career fair showcased the high demand for YVC graduates.

“Seeing so many employers participate in the fair demonstrates that the college is preparing students with the skills and knowledge that are in high demand,” Green said. “We’re pleased to be able to bring students and employers together so they can find the right fit.”