Columbia Career Expo Opens Doors for Locals to New, Diverse Job Opportunities

Friday, June 30, 2017

Congressman Adriano Espaillat talking to job-seekers at a Columbia Career Expo.

Hundreds of job seekers flocked to Riverbank State Park on Monday, June 19 to take part in Columbia University’s Career Expo, hosted in collaboration with U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat.

Participants met with hiring managers from nearly 60 organizations, attended job preparedness trainings, learned how to apply for jobs with Columbia's employment website, and networked with local businesses.

“This is a long-held commitment to the community, and we plan to hold some type of career event annually for many years to come,” said Tanya Pope, assistant vice president for University Supplier Diversity and Business Integration at Columbia University Facilities and Operations. “The June 19 Expo was the 10th career event Columbia has hosted, and we’ve participated in at least 23 others.”

According to Christine Salto, assistant director for compliance at Facilities and Operations, the Career Expo was a success, not only for the 462 job seekers who attended but for Columbia and the 58 other organizations who participated.

“Everyone who came to the Expo looking for jobs had access to information on open positions, trainings, and workshops they could attend to prepare themselves for the job market,” Salto said. “Columbia was able to deliver on our commitment to engage in events that support the growth of the local community, and vendors were able to see hundreds of job seekers in one day, which lowers their recruitment costs.”

Five divisions at Columbia were represented at the fair, including Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and Teachers College. Other participating organizations included security firms, city government, construction management firms, and other higher education institutions like New York University (NYU) and Lehman College.

“Originally, the goal was to make sure we were very transparent in showcasing the jobs available at Columbia, particularly with the new Manhattanville campus,” Pope said. “Now other organizations have asked to participate, which provides even more opportunities for job seekers.”

Some employers in attendance are local large business partners, such as Whole Foods Market Harlem and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Others are small local businesses like Hudson Moving & Storage and Sudsy Water Laundry & Dry Cleaning.

Those smaller companies are participants of CU Grow Leadership Development Program for vendors, part of Columbia’s multi-dimensional approach to assisting minority-, women- and locally-owned (MWL) firms whose goal is to expand their existing portfolio of business and contracts with large clients. It includes coaching for firm leadership, which is designed to support the participants’ executive decision-making and strategic thinking on how best to manage and grow of their companies. Four CU Grow program vendors participated in the Career Expo. “It was fulfilling to see some of our program participants give back at another of our community initiatives, provide employment opportunities to our neighbors, and truly bring Columbia’s efforts full circle,” said Radhy Miranda, program director for CU Grow and an assistant director at Facilities and Operations

Also represented at the Career Expo were construction firms building the new Manhattanville campus—Skanska USA Building Inc., the Velez Organization, and LendLease—as well as organizations  offering free or subsidized training opportunities for job seekers..

Espaillat, whose congressional district comprises upper Manhattan and a portion of the West Bronx, attended the event, where he greeted businesses and those looking for work.

“My goal is to work to ensure all residents who are willing and able to work have an opportunity to find employment and can achieve success for themselves and for their families,” he said . “This career expo presented us with an opportunity to connect local companies and recruiters with local talent seeking employment in our current jobs market.”

La-Verna Fountain, vice president for Strategic Communications and Construction Business Initiatives at Facilities and Operations, emphasized the importance of the Columbia Employment Information Center’s involvement in the event.

"Our goal has always been to bring together a diversity of firms that could support people at every level of their career path,” Fountain said. “It was essential to have our Columbia Employment Information Center there to provide training throughout the day for those in need of guidance.”

Since 2004, the center has operated in West Harlem as a source of information and an access point that makes Columbia job applications more accessible to the local community. The center also provides enhanced training programs and job-search counseling services designed to strengthen not only the individual applicant, but also the community.

“The combination of information and contacts available to the nearly 500 people who attended helped to make the entire day a success," Fountain said.