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2 career fairs expose students to professional, internship opportunities

Published on April 03, 2024

2 career fairs expose students to professional, internship opportunities

Representatives from the Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services speak with students.

Representatives from Eversource, a New England-based residential energy provider.

Christian Dubreuil '23 (left) and Lori Jones of Reliance Health.

Each semester, Eastern Connecticut State University hosts a career and internship fair. The spring 2024 edition of this fair was split into two sessions. The first session on March 28 brought representation from STEM, health, law and government careers, while the second session on April 2 catered to those with interests in business, communication, media, art and education.

STEM, health, law and government career fair

A thread of service to those in need ran through the first of Eastern’s two spring 2024 career and internship fairs. Representatives of companies often spoke of the rewards of their work while being transparent about the characteristics that they look for in new team members.

“It’s really got to be somebody who likes to help somebody, and this is a passion of theirs,” said Kelly Ahern, human resources director at Access Community Action Agency in Willimantic.

“We are looking for someone to enjoy some hard work, earn a nice paycheck and save up for school,” said Trish Tarnowski, human resources generalist at S&S Worldwide, a fundraising and support group for students, parents and teachers based in East Haddam, CT. Tarnowski also highlighted the importance of “diverse customer service skills” and an affinity for inclusion.

Many representatives at the fair had personal ties to Eastern. Tarnowski’s daughter is an Eastern alumna as is her coworker, Melinda Poitras.

Christian Dubreuil ’23 is a human resources generalist at Reliance Health, a mental health and wellness community center in New London County, CT. Reliance Health is seeking new team members with these traits as well as those with “lived experience,” said Dubreuil.

Lori Jones, professional development director at Reliance Health, said that everyone on her team “is there for the right reasons” and has a “passion for helping others.”

In some cases, current Eastern students represented companies at the fair. Sophomore Collin Rider, representing the Connecticut Army National Guard, spoke of the balance and productivity the organization has brought to his college experience. “By the time I’ve finished with my physical training, most people haven’t woken up yet,” said Rider.

Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Passantino, also representing the Connecticut Army National Guard, was proud to recruit students to take Eastern’s first Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) class. Passantino’s motivation is to help these students as they progress through life. “Trying to change lives and be a better person is a major facet of what I want to continue to do,” he said.

Students at this installment of the career and internship fair, including junior health sciences major Caitlyn Cacador, found what they were looking for. “This is a good opportunity for in-hospital experience,” said Cacador after speaking with Hartford HealthCare.

Opportunities available at Harford Healthcare are both “clinical and non-clinical,” said Linda Ives, recruiter in talent acquisition at Hartford HealthCare. Once someone becomes a team member at Hartford Healthcare, “you’re in for the whole system” and can “figure out what role you want.”

Hartford HealthCare, which has partnered with Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) to increase student involvement, emphasizes “who you are as a human being” when taking on new team members. The company also allows the flexibility to find one’s own path through professional life.

Trish Tarnowski, human resources generalist at S&S Worldwide.

Representatives from the Connecticut State Police speak with students at the career and internship fair.

Business, communication, media, art and education career fair

A large contingent of Connecticut’s education sector came to the second installment of the career and internship fair on April 2, as well as several local businesses and media organizations. Company representatives throughout the fair emphasized the importance of forging healthy professional relationships.

Stafford Speedway offered opportunities in video production. “We are one of the first local racetracks that had closed-circuit television,” said Producer and Intern Coordinator Jeremy Wyse. When recruiting new team members, Wyse looks for “somebody who’s motivated and can work well on their own and with other team members.”

The fair also offered opportunities for students seeking on-campus employment or internships. John Whitmeyer, intern for Eastern’s Office of Alumni Affairs, has expanded his professional and social network through his internship.

“I never played a sport or joined a club here, so this (internship) is my most effective way to get involved with the community,” said Whitmeyer.

In other cases, Eastern alumni such as Isabelle Horchos ’23 represented companies at the fair. Horchos interned with Sherwin-Williams, a paint and coating manufacturing company, as a student. “That allowed me to grow quickly within the company,” said Horchos, who now manages a Sherwin-Williams store in Glastonbury.

“It’s very full circle to come back to the career fair I was walking around at as a student last year,” said Horchos. She credits Eastern for encouraging students to seek out internships as a key factor in her professional journey.

Companies and students shared a common goal of networking. “It’s really exciting to connect with the community at Eastern,” said Allison Horton, human resources generalist and recruiter at LEARN, southeastern Connecticut’s regional educational service center.

Horton was excited to meet Eastern’s “talented pool of students” and “hopefully connect them with their dream jobs in education.” When seeking new teammates, Horton looks for “people who are passionate about education and developing classrooms with new, innovative ideas.”

Written by Noel Teter