June 2, 2006
Vol. 36, Issue 10
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First job fair info session ’overwhelming success’

By Matt Kelly

Job applicants braved heavy rain and tornado warnings on May 11 to attend a job fair designed to help shepherd them through the University application process. The fair, which was the first-ever University jobs information session to be held in the community, attracted about 450 people.

Photo by Dan Addison
U.Va.’s first ever jobs information session attracted about 450 people.

“This effort was undertaken in response to residents expressing confusion about how to navigate the U.Va. job-application process,” said Ida Lee Wootten, director of Community Relations for the University. The Community Relations office hosted the“ Jobs at U.Va. Information and Resource Fair,” which it sponsored with the Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries, a partnership of several groups to enhance the educational, economic and spiritual needs of local residents, and Quality Community Council, a city organization seeking to improve residents’ quality of life.

“I think this was an opportunity for us to get known in a community where we do not have a high visibility,” said Nat Scurry, associate vice president and interim chief human resource officer.“ It gave us a chance to demystify U.Va. and who we are looking for to work here and how people are treated once they are working here.”

Sixteen University departments participated in the event, including University Human Resources, Medical Center Human Resources, Facilities Management, the Housing Division, the University Library, the Office of Development and Public Affairs, Supplier Diversity in Procurement Services, the University Police Department and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies’ Bachelors of Interdisplinary Studies Program.

Scurry saw the fair as an opportunity for agencies within the University to get together for a common project.

“We had a diverse group,” Wootten said, describing the attendees. “We had people in blue jeans and in suits, high school dropouts to Ph.Ds. We had African Americans, Latinos, Europeans, people from India and China. People traveled from as far away as Staunton and Williamsburg.”

“The people who attended could see people who looked like them,” said Scurry. “They could also see we have diversity in leadership.”

Attendees were enthusiastic, according to the organizers. “The people [were] very friendly, very knowledgeable and willing to help,” one attendee wrote on the evaluation form.“ People answered questions and were honest about … the application process,” another wrote. There are 11,792 full-time employees at the University and 1,270 part-timers, and each year U.Va. receives more than 10,000 applications, with an average of 80 applications for each vacancy.

Materials for the job fair were printed in English and Spanish and a Spanish-speaking greeter was available at the door. The event was held in early May to draw attention to the University’s Apprentice Program, which trains employees in the trades.

There were computer banks set up for people to apply for University jobs online, and the fair also provided would-be job seekers an opportunity to talk directly with University personnel.

“People were very appreciative that they could meet individually with U.Va. representatives,” Wootten said.

The event was held from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Monticello Event and Conference Center, a minority-owned business on a bus line.

“The time was chosen to help those who are under-employed or those working two jobs,” Wootten said. “It allowed people to attend after the regular workday ends or before heading to another job.”

More job fairs will likely be held though there is no schedule now.

“Participants thought it was an overwhelming success,” Wootten said.




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