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Updated: November 8, 2019

USM job fair connects applicants with more than 110 Maine employers

USM job fair Photo / Renee Cordes More than 110 Maine employers met with prospective interns and employees at a job fair Thursday at the University of Southern Maine's Portland campus.

About half an hour after the doors opened at a Portland job and internship fair on Thursday, a four-person Tyler Technologies team from Yarmouth was taking resumes and fielding queries from potential applicants. A sign advertised current intern openings in nine areas, including IT, security, software support and finance.

Software support specialist Charles Wesley, a University of Southern Maine graduate employed at Tyler since 2014, oozed enthusiasm about the company, telling Mainebiz, "we keep acquiring other companies. It's pretty exciting,"

He said job expos like Thursday's offer applicants a chance to not only get a foot in the door with prospective employers, but "get a leg up on any competition."

Next to him, corporate HR manager Laura Paul said the software company is looking to hire full-timers as well as interns. As at this event in the past, she said, "we will have professionals stop by" as well as students.

Tyler was among more than 110 Maine employers participating at the event, held at USM's Sullivan Gym in Portland and billed as the largest of its kind in the region. 

The fair was open to students as well as professionals, and some employers were represented by USM students and alumni.

One 24-year-old job seeker, stopping by the Tyler table early on, has an undergraduate computer engineering degree and moved to Portland for family reasons. Though currently employed, he was making his way around the room with a stack of resumes to see what else is out there. 

"I'm just trying to find opportunities here," he said.

At another table, Madison Wright of Nichols Portland said the manufacturer of metal components and pumping products was looking to fill full- and part-time openings. She was looking forward to introducing students to the company. 

"By the time they graduate," she said, "it helps to have us on their radar."

Courtney St. Amant, a USM online student studying leadership and organizational studies, was flying the flag for Norway Savings Bank, where she is a full-time talent acquisition business partner.

"We had three interns last year, in marketing, information technology and the HR department, and to this day people in their departments are commending their work," she told Mainebiz.

'Focused like a laser on workforce'

Connecting students with the Maine workforce and experiential learning opportunities is a priority for the state's public universities, who serve 32,000 students every year and confer 5,500 degrees and credentials.

"In the last couple of years the board has really focused like a laser on workforce," James Erwin, chair of the University of Maine System board of trustees, said in welcome remarks to employers at the job fair. 

That includes "encouraging educators and employers to work together to lift career aspirations, and to

Glenn Cummings and James Erwin at the USM job fair.
Photo / Renee Cordes
USM President Glenn Cummings, left, and James Erwin, chair of the University of Maine System's board of trustees, open Thursday's job fair at USM's Portland campus.

ultimately deliver the right program," he said. "This job and internship fair is a terrific example of that work."

Commenting on the large number of participating employers, USM President Glenn Cummings said "it tells you that we believe in our graduates and it also tells you how desperately the Maine economy needs us to continue to produce these graduates and these students."

He also said that 60% of the firms in the room are supporting internships for students, and thanked them for doing so.

"Our students tell us we really appreciate the excellence in the classroom, but make sure please that it is matched with real-world experience." 

Today, Cummings noted that all 54 of USM programs have internships, up from only 39 programs with internships five years ago.

"Thank you for helping fulfill that promise to every student," he said, "and we hope to grow stronger than that in the next few years."

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