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‘We want to be able to help local people stay local’: Employers gather on Dixie State campus for job fair

Intergalactic in the news

Written by Ammon Teare

ST. GEORGE — As the largest hiring event organized annually by Dixie State University Career Services, the Spring Employment Fair held Tuesday brought together more than 70 businesses and nonprofits with a student body in need of work experience.

Companies advertised their brands, services and products at tables manned by employees and managers, while students bearing name tags declaring their major walked from booth to booth in the black fabric avenues temporarily erected in the ballroom of the Gardner Student Center.

Whether employer or prospective employee, each attendee had the opportunity to reap the benefits of close association with other professionals and learn more about what Dixie State has to offer, said Rochelle Blatter, senior career counselor at the university. 

“It’s great for students for a couple of different reasons,” she said. “One, they can make connections with employers. Two, they can really research companies that they might want to work for either now or in the future, and three, if they’re just not even sure they can see what is available and they can ask questions to all sorts of professionals.”

As for businesses, the job fair offered a one-of-a-kind opportunity for face-to-face conversations with students and the chance to leave a good impression on those that participate, Blatter said. 

Most of the participating organizations were local to Washington County, and many were founded in St. George or nearby communities. Businesses like Zonos and Ram Aviation operated booths next to franchise businesses, military recruiters and law enforcement agencies. 

For representatives of the aerospace company Intergalactic (formerly Airborne ECS), networking at the employment fair is a way to find qualified engineers while honoring a commitment to support the community.

“We want to be able to help people to stay local and be able to offer high-paying jobs that are interesting and engaging,” said Josh Fawson, Intergalactic test engineer and Dixie State alumnus. “We’ve really tried to invest in Dixie (State) because we want to have that relationship with the college.”

After launching the City Alliance program in August 2021, the municipal government has been expanding its outreach efforts in classrooms and working to engage students in multiple disciplines, said Emerson Watanabe, recreation manager for the city of St. George.

“It’s really hard for a student to break into an industry and get the experience required to even start an entry-level position,” Watanabe said. “We’re working with teachers in their classrooms and students to provide opportunities to have some experiential learning, and it’s good for us too, because we thrive on part-time work and part-time employees. So it’s a win-win.”

Admission was free and open to all students as well as faculty, staff, alumni and even members of the public. The event lasted four hours to accommodate as many students as possible regardless of class schedule.

As part of the event, students could have a professional photo taken by a University Marketing & Communications intern for use in a portfolio or accompanying a job application.

Attendees also could browse the “Career Closet” of donated clothing items freely given to students and others in need of professional attire for interviews and workspaces.

Paxton Robertson, a Dixie State senior studying computer information technology, said his upcoming graduation means he’s been putting more and more thought into where he will work after he earns a degree.

“I’m right at the point where I need to figure all this stuff out, so I met with a career coach and he told me to come here (the employment fair),” Robertson said. “I met some good people, and even if they weren’t specifically offering something that I’m looking for in information technology, they talked with me. It’s good to connect with people because sometimes it really is about who you know.

”Robertson came prepared with copies of his resume to hand out to potential employers, which is just the sort of thing Blatter said would help students stand out from their peers.

“Dressing professionally, having resumes ready and practicing an elevator pitch or something just as an introduction about your professional skills and strengths will make you completely stand out,” Blatter said. “Understand that you actually need to put effort into your career or job search, but if you engage in your career and put effort into it then you’ll find it’s all very beneficial.”

Feedback from students about their expectations from companies centered on clear communication and company culture.

Abby Larkin, a Dixie State sophomore in general studies, said what she was looking for was an employer that was direct about what she could gain from working with them and what she’d be expected to provide in return. Larkin said she was generally very pleased with the interactions she had at the employment fair.

“I’ve loved all the friendly people and the different kinds of opportunities,” she said. “I feel like there’s been so many different kinds of jobs – it’s not limited to one group or study area. I feel like I’m more ready to apply to different jobs because I know a lot more.”

Career Services at Dixie State organizes a variety of networking opportunities and hiring events throughout the year. Blatter said events are planned with the intent to accommodate different class schedules and gathering sizes, tailoring the experience to the comfort level of as many students as possible.

The next event will be a “lunch and learn” seminar hosted by Enterprise Holdings – parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car – held on March 8 at noon in the Idea Room of Udvar-Hazy School of Business. While the event is targeted to business students, it will be open to all students, faculty and staff.On March 9, Career Services will host a “snack and chat” virtual seminar for Women in Leadership out of Room 550 in the Holland Centennial Commons. More information can be found at the Career Services homepage on the Dixie State website.

Note: This article originally appeared in St. George News: (1) ‘We want to be able to help local people stay local’: Employers gather on Dixie State campus for job fair – St George News (