Career Expo Gives West Harlem Residents Important Information

Local Government, Community Groups and Columbia University Partner to Create Job Opportunities for the West Harlem Community

Workshop attendees learn how to apply for jobs at Columbia

Over 100 residents from the West Harlem community and beyond attended the first ever West Harlem Career Expo on Saturday, October 25th at Our Children's Foundation on West 125th Street.  Co-sponsored by the West Harlem Local Development Corporation, Community Board 9 and Columbia University, the event offered workshops on applying for jobs at Columbia, access to building and construction trades and workforce readiness skills.  After welcoming remarks by Congressman Charles Rangel, Assemblyman Keith Wright and Councilman Robert Jackson, residents also had the opportunity to connect with representatives from job preparedness organizations, community groups and the construction industry.

"What we hope to achieve is to raise the awareness of community members about the variety of jobs within the construction industry and across the city," said Joe Ienuso, executive vice president of Columbia University Facilities. 

Three different workshops, conducted twice to allow for maximum participation, provided participants with information regarding various career opportunities and actions steps needed to prepare for those opportunities:

The Jobs at Columbia workshop offered attendees instructions and tips on applying for jobs at the University, from working with the Employment Information Center on Broadway at 125th Street to searching and applying for open positions.  Facilities human resources representatives were on hand to answer questions and discuss current job openings, which include positions in project management, plant engineering and utilities, custodial services, and campus operations. 

The workshop on Access to Building and Construction Trades featured information on apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs for trade union positions.  Panelists included Jim Dorvil, program manager for the Edward J. Malloy Institute for Construction Skills, which prepares New York City public high school students and adults for careers in the building and construction trades, Amy Peterson, president of Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), an organization that helps provide opportunities for women in non-traditional jobs in the building and construction trades, utilities and transportation industries and facilities maintenance and repair, and Joe Ienuso, the executive vice president for Columbia University Facilities, who explained how Columbia works with construction firms to meet its hiring goals. 

"It is so great seeing so many women interested in what we have to offer," said Peterson.  "We have really had success in training women in construction and other blue-collar industries."

Bovis Lend Lease, Turner and Structure Tone as well as other construction-related organizations staffed tables at the Expo to provide information and answer questions. 

The Workforce Readiness workshop focused on career development tools such as resume writing and application and interview tips.  The Expo complimented the workshop with tables manned by job preparedness organizations such as Dress for Success, Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, and Strive.   

The West Harlem Career Expo comes on the heels of other Facilities' efforts to inform and support members of the community in their career aspirations.  This summer, area college students gained hands-on experience in architecture and related fields through an internship program with the Manhattanville Development group.  This fall, as a result of a partnership with the ACE Mentor Program, approximately 25 students from area high schools will work with Manhattanville Development mentors to learn about architecture, engineering and construction. 

"This is a new phase we are in," said La-Verna Fountain, associate vice president for construction business services and communications. "We will continue to seek new ways to respond to to the community needs so that we can grow together and learn together."

Congressman Charles Rangel welcomes participants