College student job-seekers check out Muskegon and Grand Haven
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012, 4:48 PM Updated: Friday, April 13, 2012, 4:52 PM
MUSKEGON, MI – Western Michigan University master of business administration students Jerry Juergens and Joanna Randazzo are intrigued by West Michigan’s Lakeshore communities.Both were on the state of Michigan’s “college student tour” of Muskegon and Grand Haven on Friday, as more than 30 Lakeshore employers had a job fair for young, skilled workers looking for jobs.
The idea for the students and job seekers was to find a company and a position that was a good fit in a community from which they could launch their careers. Student participants were recruited from Michigan universities.
For economic developers and community promoters in Grand Haven and Muskegon, the Pure Michigan Talent Connect event allowed local companies to find new, skilled talent to fill current and future job openings.
“It’s all about talent,” said Ed Garner, president of Muskegon Area First – the local economic development agency. “These folks here are the bright minds of our future. We want them to know about the opportunities in their own back yard.”
The event through the Michigan Economic Development Corp. that brought nearly 100 job seekers to town was not all about filling jobs but exciting young talent workers of the future about Muskegon and Grand Haven.
The tourism promotion agencies in Muskegon and Grand Haven gave a tour of downtown Muskegon, Pere Marquette Beach and downtown Grand Haven. The community familiarization tour began with lunch at the Lake House in Muskegon and ended with a reception at the Kirby Grill in Grand Haven.
“The live and play component of this event is important,” said Nancy Manglos, training services manager for The Chamber in Grand Haven. “We want to show what we have along the Lakeshore. We need to show the whole package to these folks – live, work and play.”
Many of the out-of-town students visiting Muskegon and Grand Haven Friday left with an initial favorable impression of the Lakeshore communities.
“It’s very pretty here,” Juergens said of the Muskegon Lake setting of the Grand Valley State University energy center where the companies and the job seekers mingled.
Juergens is from Elmore, Ohio, and has a business degree from Bowling Green University. After his master’s in business administration degree is completed next spring, he said he is looking for a job as a change management consultant.
The job will eventually dictate where he starts his career, Juergens said. But if given a choice, he said he is looking for a medium-sized community somewhere in between his rural Ohio home and a large metro area. A town like Muskegon or Kalamazoo would be a comfortable place to begin his business career, he said.
Randazzo said when looking for a community in which to settle, activities, events and people her age would be important factors. From Atlanta, she has a business management degree from the University of Georgia and after receiving her MBA from Western Michigan University next year she’d like to pursue a career in small business development or non-profit agency management.
“I think I’d like this location,” Randazzo said. “Living near the beach would be good.”
The companies that participated in the Pure Michigan Talent Connect included Light Corp. and Media One of Grand Haven; Mercy Health, and ADAC Plastics of Muskegon; and MasterTag and Alcoa Howmet of Whitehall. All participating companies had immediate openings or specific new hires in the next six months, Gardner said.
ADAC Plastics has a major manufacturing operation in Muskegon, making painting and assembling parts for the automotive industry. The Grand Rapids-based company has a major paint line expansion with a need from 50 to 130 new employees through 2013, according to company Vice President Peter Hungerford.
“We sometimes have a difficult time finding the right talent and with our expansion we need to get our name out there,” Hungerford said of needing everything from production workers to engineers and business managers. “A university degree is not always necessary but certified technical skills are. We need people with math, statistics and problem-solving skills.”
The job fair was set up with specific rooms for initial job interviews as several companies were sitting down and talking to the job seekers. Gardner said one highly-sought applicant was offered two jobs before the afternoon session was concluded.
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