Jenny Stutz of South Buffalo left JOBSapalooza, Thursday's ninth annual job and internship fair, without the promise of employment, but she was convinced she one day will be able to launch her career where she was raised and educated.
Stutz, who received a degree in communications from St. Bonaventure University last May, was one of a few hundred local job-seekers who showed up at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center hoping to match up with the perfect or near-perfect employer.
"What I am finding since I graduated is that the jobs in my field are sort of scarce around the Buffalo area," said Stutz, 22.
"But I'm still looking for somewhere to get my foot in the door, and hopefully something that I like to do, maybe something to do with creative advertising, will come along, otherwise, I'll have to look elsewhere," she added.
By offering local employers the equivalent of an open-casting call, the event aimed to reduce the likelihood that the region will lose its homegrown talent to other areas of the country.
Daniel Ryan, director of career services for the University at Buffalo, one of the sponsors of the fair, said 90 Western New York companies, representing a broad cross-section of the local economy, took advantage of the opportunity.
"The only restrictions we place on the companies is that they [must] have opportunities here in this region," Ryan said.
Companies represented ranged from financial planners Waddell & Reed Financial Services, which has offices in Amherst and Rochester, to Leisure Craft Pools and Baker Victory Services. Even the Cheektowaga Police Department was represented.
"We want a large pool of eligible candidates so we can get the cream of the crop," explained Officer Dominic Albanesi, a recruiter for the department.
And though the job-seekers were not required to be local residents,
fair organizers specifically targeted prospective talent from the area attending college in another region or those from outside the area who are attending local colleges.
It was no accident thatJOBSapalooza was scheduled while many colleges are closed for winter recess.
"By holding this event during the winter break, we will capitalize on the thousands and thousands of area college students and former residents who will come home for the holidays," Ryan said.
Before the job fair, the organizers held a workshop for the job-seekers to instruct them on how best to present themselves and master the art of a 30-second interview, something that is prevalent at mass job fairs.
Ryan said the job fair, which already has grown since its humble beginnings nine years ago, has expanded.
"For the first time ever, there'll be one of these in Rochester, as well, and for next year, Syracuse and Albany. All of upstate is looking to do the same thing we've been doing for nearly 10 years," he said.