By Kelsey Hilmes, Guest Writer

Volunteering has always been an option for career growth, but students don’t always recognize it as such. More than 60 companies and organizations networked with students in the Anderson University Center Oct. 23 for the Fall Internship, Volunteer, & Job Fair. Ordinarily the event is all about internship and job opportunities, but this year, Career Connections chose to combine the career fair and the volunteer fair for the first time.

“We worked to make it an all-encompassing event for students so that they can experience both the job and internship side and the volunteer side since they’re so closely connected,” Tiffany Lemmon, the assistant director for Community Engagement and Services, said. “You get to know a variety of organizations here in Pierce County.”

Lemmon said Pacific Lutheran University combined the fairs because volunteering helps students learn more about the kind of work they enjoy and can lead to jobs and internships later on.

“It’s kind of one big one-stop-shop for a lot of different opportunities,” Tracy Pitt, recruiting and outreach manager for Career Connections, said.

Students who registered in advance for the career fair received nametags with their majors on them at a check-in table outside of the Chris Knutzen Hall. Students traveled across the hall between the job fair and the volunteer fair, occasionally stopping at the photo booth that offered free professional photos for students to include on their LinkedIn accounts.

Some students, like first-year Nicholas Dominichi, came to the career expo with their class.

“Overall, there’s really good information, really good people there, and people get jobs there,” Dominichi said. “It gave me a lot of ideas about what to improve on in the future.”

Dominichi isn’t the only student who is using the career fair as a chance to practice for future job hunts. After three career fairs, senior Dominic Napat, who is also a student employee of Career Connections, has noticed positive results.

“I’ve networked with a lot of people, I’ve gone on some informational interviews, and I’ve gotten some job offers from the fairs,” Napat said. “I noticed I’ve changed how I conduct myself professionally every year. It’s better.”

The combined fairs resulted in higher student attendance. Pitt said the combined fair is something Career Connections hopes to continue in the future.

“Logistically, we’ll always be making it better, ironing out any kinks that we find,” Pitt said. “But I think students are enjoying being able to find internships and jobs over here and also volunteer positions over there.”

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