Derek Hamilton, Staff Writer
The Center for Career and Professional Development hosted the annual Volunteer Fair on Wednesday, Sept. 18 in Strebel Lounge. At the event, students had the chance to network and connect with volunteering opportunities that are available in Oneida County.
This year, more than 17 separate organizations attended. The Volunteer Fair focuses primarily on volunteering opportunities, but it also provides a chance for students to connect with local employers and organizations.
“This is a great opportunity for any students to reach out to the local community and discover more about Utica and its residents,” said Jennifer Rubino, a career coach in the Center for Career and Professional Development.
The event also hosted a drawing for a giveaway. Students collected one ticket from each representative they spoke to, and the tickets were entered into a drawing for a pair of Airpods.
Rubino said the majority of the organizations that attend the Volunteer Fair are local non-profit institutions that provide some type of community service.
“Students can gain connections with employers by starting off as volunteers and maybe one day become employees,” said Erika Gross, a work-study student from the center for career and professional development. “It will also help students with learning how to speak to employers.”
The fair was open to all students and many different organizations showcased their volunteering opportunities. Volunteer sites that were present included Upstate Cerebral Palsy, The Utica Zoo, Center for Family Life and Recovery, Peace Corps and the American Cancer Society.
“It may be of special interest to students who are pursuing a career in the human services industry, psychology or sociology, as well as education,” Rubino said. “However, any student can benefit from gaining this type of experience and industry exposure, which may even lead to internship or employment opportunities in the future.”
The Volunteer Fair is held annually, which makes it the only opportunity of the year to network with each of the attending organizations in one place, according to Rubino.
Rubino said local organizations will be available to contact even after the fair. The Center for Career and Professional Development office can help students reach out to off-campus opportunities during the rest of the year.
“Volunteering is a good experience because it allows you to help someone less fortunate, it makes you feel better,” senior Ryan Van Laere said. “The experience allows you to make your community better.”
Senior Mercedes Steele is involved with Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a co-ed fraternity and organization which provides volunteering opportunities for its members to give back to the community.
“I loved volunteering before joining APO and still afterward,” Steele said. “I love helping my community through volunteering. I just feel it can make a change in the community.”