Keweenaw Job Fair attracts employers and job seekers

HANCOCK – Keith Sever was attending the Keweenaw Job Fair Tuesday hoping to find a company to hire him, and he felt pretty good about his chances.

Sever, who is from Hubbell, said he was looking for something in construction or manufacturing, but he also talked to a representative of the Michigan State Police about becoming a trooper.

He appreciated having the chance to talk to company representatives during the Job Fair, and he dropped off four resumes, Sever said.

“It shows them what kind of person you are before an interview process,” he said.

He was able to get at least one interview, Sever said.

The Keweenaw Job Fair – which took place at the Finlandia University Jutila Center for Global Design and Business in Hancock – was a partnership between the Western Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! and Finlandia University.

Robert Peters, business services manager for the Western Upper Peninsula Michigan Works!, said in the 15 years he’s worked for the agency, Tuesday was the first time an event such as the Job Fair was conducted.

Peters said Michigan Works! and Finlandia had a similar idea for conducting a job fair, so in December representatives of both began talks to conduct a joint event.

“It’s a combination of both of us,” he said.

Peters said there were 23 businesses registered for the Job Fair Tuesday, but not all were able to come. It was originally scheduled for Friday, but due to heavy snowfall had to be rescheduled for Tuesday, and some of the company representatives couldn’t make it then.

The event began at noon, and Peters said about 75 to 80 people per hour were talking to the company representatives on two floors of the building.

Kevin Manninen, Finlandia interim dean of the International School of Business, said he was pleased with the turnout for the Keweenaw Job Fair.

“It’s a steady stream of people,” he said.

Manninen said partnering with Michigan Works! worked out well.

“We approached Michigan Works! and they liked the idea,” he said.

Originally, Manninen said the Job Fair was going to be an effort of the university’s CEO Club, but university administration liked the idea and it became a university effort.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources had a table at the Job Fair, and Leland VerBerkmoes, unit supervisor for McLain and Twin Lakes state parks, said he was there mostly to talk to people about summer jobs with the DNR. Twin Lakes often has difficulty getting summer employees, probably because of its relative remoteness, and VerBerkmoes said he was hoping to convince people to work there.

“We decided we should come here (to the Job Fair),” he said.

Matthew Monte, president of Monte Consulting of Houghton, which does web design, among other things, said his company has been looking for help, and attending the Job Fair seemed like a good idea.

“This opportunity came along at a good time,” he said.

Monte said he was hoping to talk to web designers and communication majors in college.

“It’s good to have contact with those people before we go looking,” he said.

One of the web designers he talked to was Nathan Anderson of Laurium, who said he saw on Facebook that Monte Consulting would be at the Job Fair, so he decided to bring his resume and talk to a company representative.

“They told me to send them samples of web sites I’ve made,” he said.

Also during the Job Fair, there were seminars on resume writing and entrepreneurship.

Peters said it’s hoped the Keweenaw Job Fair will take place next year, also, but with 35 to 40 businesses represented.

“At this point, this will be an annual event,” he said.