On Friday, April 5, the University of Portland hosted the annual OPLAC First Avenue Career Expo at the Chiles Center from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Students and Alumni from universities and colleges around west Oregon dressed in their best business suits and spoke with recruiters about job and internship opportunities.
OPLAC stands for the “Oregon Liberal Arts Placement Consortium.” Members of OPLAC include Eastern Oregon University, George Fox University, Lewis and Clark College, Linfield College, Pacific University, Reed College, University of Portland, Western Oregon University, and Willamette University.
There were over 100 booths with new and returning businesses and graduate schools.
At 10:00 a.m. Joshua Waldman, Author of “Job Searching with Social Media,” opened the expo with a presentation on job searching using social media.
The expo also had a “Link in Live” event from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for students to meet and network with alumni.
Expo Co-Coordinator Cathie Lutz volunteered with the program for over 20 years. She said the “students” is the main reason she continues to volunteer. She hears about how much the expo helps students and their excitement for the opportunity to network.
Adry Clark, first-time volunteer for the expo, agreed that all the work they put into their year of planning was well worth it.
Clark said that commuting for an hour each month to meet with the rest of the planners was the toughest part of the job.
Renee Eaton, help desk volunteer, said all the volunteers were career center administrators from the participating universities. The expo itself was funded through participating businesses and schools recruiting at the event, donors, and fees from attending students.
Students who attended “How to Work a Career Fair” workshops were reimbursed their $10 registration fee at the door.
Lutz said they tried using smaller committees this year instead of running through one main planning committee.
Committees included food, activities, recruiting, advertisement, and website maintenance. All the participating schools were responsible for advertising and recruiting students from their respective schools. All schools were also responsible for relaying any possible networks for the Link in Live event and identifying possible businesses and schools to recruit during the event.
Another challenge the coordinators continue to face each year is planning when to have the expo.
Although they normally hold the event at the Chiles Center because of its central location between the participating schools and the space available for booths, Eaton said it is always difficult to work around the different school schedules and other events reserved at the Chiles Center.
The Chiles Center holds various sporting events including basketball and volleyball and regularly trains athletes on the tracks and machines upstairs where the booths would be located.
Between the colleges, the coordinators had to compensate for graduation, breaks, and holidays.
Businesses prefer their recruiting to begin in March because that is when they begin conducting interviews.
Overall, the coordinators thought the expo ran smoothly and were glad both students and recruiters enjoyed themselves.
Lutz said reviews will be conducted in May and planning for next year will begin again in Fall.