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April 04. 2012 10:51PM

College seniors, employers check each other out at job fair


Arturo Bedoya, left, a senior at New England College, talks with Jay Bernasconi, from the Merrimack office of Fidelity Investments, during the New Hampshire College & University Council's job fair held at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — With college graduations about a month away, seniors from New Hampshire colleges and universities got an early whiff of the job market Wednesday, thanks to a job fair held in downtown Manchester.

About 500 students were expected to shake hands with about 60 company representatives. While no businesses were hiring on the spot, company representatives said they were looking for bright, ambitious people.

“We're looking for any candidate with good logic, reasoning, problem-solving and customer-service skills,” said Rick Boydos, a claims manager who has five openings in his Liberty Mutual office in Keene.

Just minutes after the job fair opened, he had collected six resumes in a folder.

For the seniors, the afternoon wasn't easy, as potential employers took resumes and queried them about their interests. Many spent more time talking to one another than to recruiters.

“It's a little nerve racking,” said Angela Zevnik, a senior at Saint Anselm College. She advised friends to research companies before speaking to a recruiter, but then forgot to do that before she found herself talking to a Liberty Mutual representative.

Luckily, he did all the talking, she said. Zevnik left with a code she can use to fill out an application online.

Still, with a job market in slow recovery, students said they were happy with the responses they were getting.

“We're finding more potential than we thought we would,” said Samantha Rober, one of 10 Colby Sawyer College students to drive to Manchester for the event.

The job fair was put on by the New Hampshire College University Council, a consortium of 17 Granite State colleges.

Stephanie Lesperance said the council used to hold the job fair earlier in the year but the organization has found April to be a good month for it.

“Reality is starting to set in,” Lesperance said.

One of the most popular booths belonged to Axis Communications, a Swedish company with a Massachusetts office. It featured video cameras and a TV monitor, so students could watch themselves as they chatted with the three recruiters.

Jillian Comeau said the company wants people who can work in a team setting, communicate and think big. The company can teach the technology, she said.

She and her two Axis colleagues graduated from Southern New Hampshire University.

“There's excellent students and alumni here, impressive,” she said.


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