Job seekers flock to employment fair

As unemployment rises statewide, the fair provided students with opportunities.

by Kelly Gulbrandson

Advertising senior Kyle Pleggenkuhle attended the University’s Job and Internship Fair on Monday for two reasons.

The first was to complete an assignment for a class he’s in, the second, because he graduates in a few months and still hasn’t found a job.

Although he wasn’t sure what to expect from the fair, he didn’t anticipate it would end with him receiving a job.

“I just want to get my résumé in the stack,” he said.

With the economy declining and the unemployment rate rising, getting a foot in the door is becoming more important because finding jobs is becoming more difficult.

Minnesota State Economist Tom Stinson said the economy, both locally and nationally, isn’t strong right now.

“For the next year, job growth for Minnesota and nationally is expected to be weaker than the past couple of years,” he said. “Recession or no recession, employment is not going to grow as fast as it has been growing.”

He said Minnesota’s unemployment rate is typically 1 to 1.5 percent lower than the national average.

In December, however, Minnesota’s unemployment rate was only 0.1 percent lower than the national average, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Unemployment in the United States was at 5 percent in December, while the jobless rate in Minnesota was at 4.9 percent.

In December 2006, those numbers were 4.4 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

Unemployment in the metro area in December was at 4.5 percent, slightly lower than the state average.

University career counselor Robin Stubblefield said about 4,000 students and recent graduates from the University’s five branches preregistered for Monday’s annual job and internship fair.

Last year, only 3,000 students preregistered, and 2,000 actually attended.

Stubblefield said she was hoping for about 3,000 of the University’s nearly 65,000 undergraduate students to take advantage of this year’s fair.

Mechanical engineering junior Mikhail Tikh said the fair was a good chance to connect with local companies.

“I got a few business cards and made a few contacts,” he said.

The University has other job fairs throughout the year, Stubblefield said, but the job and internship fair during the spring semester is always the largest.

More than 250 businesses and organizations, including local corporations such as Target, Northwest Airlines and TCF Bank, attended the job fair at the Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis. Most employers had full-time jobs to offer.