Career Expo at Riverbank State Park Connected Job Seekers, Local Vendors

More than 460 job seekers flocked to Riverbank State Park on Monday, June 19, 2017 to take part in Columbia University’s Career Expo, hosted in collaboration with Congressmember Adriano Espaillat.

Participants met with hiring managers from more than 58 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 tenth 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 huge success—not only for job seekers, but for Columbia and the 58 other organizations who participated.

“All 462 job seekers who came to the Expo 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.”

In addition to representatives from five departments across Columbia University—including Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and Teachers College—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. “It has since become a community event with so much opportunity in West Harlem that other organizations have asked to participate, which provides even more opportunities to job seekers.”

Some employers in attendance were local large business partners, like Whole Foods Market Harlem and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Others were small local businesses like Hudson Moving and Storage; and Sudsy Water Laundry and Dry Cleaning—both participants in Columbia’s CU Grow Leadership Development Program for Vendors.

CU Grow is part of Columbia’s multi-dimensional approach to assisting minority-, women- and local-owned (MWL) firms by expanding their existing portfolio of business and contracts with large clients. The coaching aspect is designed to support their executive decision making and strategic thinking regarding the management and growth of their companies.

“Four CU Grow program vendors participated in the Career Expo,” said Radhy Miranda, program director for CU Grow and assistant director at Facilities and Operations. “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.”

Also represented at the Career Expo were construction firms building the new Manhattanville campus—Skanska, The Velez Organization, and Lend Lease—and job training organizations that offer free or subsidized training opportunities for people seeking work.

Congressmember Espaillat, whose district comprises upper Manhattan and a small portion of the west Bronx, greeted businesses and job seekers.

“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,” said Rep. Espaillat. “We witnessed an exceptional turnout during the Career Expo co-hosted by my office and Columbia University. There were more than 500 total participants, including more than 460 job seekers, nearly 60 vendors and local businesses. This career expo was a huge success and 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, stated the importance of the Columbia Employment Information Center’s involvement in the event.

"From the beginning, our goal was 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 the Columbia Employment Information Center there to provide training throughout the day for those in need of guidance.”

Since 2004, the Employment Information Center has operated in west Harlem as a source of information and a critical access point to make 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.