By Zev Hurwitz
Scores of first- and second-year graduate students worked the room at the annual UCLA Luskin Job and Internship Career Fair, networking and trading business cards with prospective employers.
Held Jan. 30, 2018, at the UCLA Faculty Center, the event gave students in all three disciplines — Public Policy, Urban Planning and Social Welfare — a chance to meet future employers, who were looking to fill jobs and internships.
Mirna Jewell, a researcher with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, attended for the first time to recruit UCLA Luskin students on the advice of her colleague, a public policy graduate. Jewell was looking for interns for the Public Health Department’s food insecurity program.
“I work with a Luskin MPP graduate who has said so many nice things about the program,” Jewell said. “My colleague specifically wanted to target these students because of the high caliber and strong reputation.”
A strong contingent of Luskin School alumni were on hand.
“Half of the employers we have here today are represented by our alumni,” said VC Powe, director of career services and leadership development at UCLA Luskin. “To see these former students come back and hear about what they’re doing is wonderful. Seeing them here to give back to our students is the best.”
Greg Srolestar, director of technical assistance with Fair and Just Prosecution, a group that works with elected local prosecutors to provide policy and networking support, said he was looking for a few good students to join his team.
“Thus far, our organization has been really heavy on lawyers, which makes sense,” said Srolestar, a Luskin public policy alumnus. “It’s always great to get people with different perspectives and backgrounds. I’ve been the core team member without a law background, and it’s time to look for more people who may come from that kind of background.”
Srolestar was one of several dozen Luskin alumni who attended the fair on behalf of their employers.
Megan Kirkeby MPP ’12, a housing policy research specialist at the California Department of Housing and Community Development, attended to fill recently opened positions.
“We’re primarily recruiting for jobs,” Kirkeby said. “ We passed a big housing package in 2017 with 15 new laws that went into effect Jan. 1. We know we’re going to have to staff up starting in July, so we want to make sure people know about us and know that Sacramento is a wonderful place to work and live.”
Adam Russell, a first-year urban planning student with a focus on design, development and transportation, said the career fair had a good mix of employers.
“This is a really good starting point for looking at internships,” Russell said. “I’ve been making the rounds, getting to know who’s here and what’s out there.”
Sarah Burtner, a second-year MPP candidate, said she also hoped to size up potential employers.
“I’m looking to see how I’ll spend my 40-hour work week in the near future,” she said. “The type of work I will be doing, the type of communities I’ll be working with, and will they make good bosses or coworkers.”
Corina Post, a graduate student in her third and final year of a dual degree in public policy and social welfare, said she was hoping the job fair would kick off her career search.
“I’m hoping to learn more about organizations, what they’re looking for and put things on my radar for me to look for as I’m graduating,” Post said. “I appreciate the diversity of organization that are here. Coming from both public policy and social welfare backgrounds, I’m really impressed with how VC and the career center staff have been able to bring together organizations that are interesting to all three departments.”
Tuesday’s event marked a return to the traditional job fair format. Last year, a “speed dating”-style event paired alumni employers with students with related interests.
“I’m excited about tonight because a lot of employers thought that career fairs are becoming passé, so we didn’t do one last year,” Powe said. “It was students who asked me to bring back a nonprofit career fair.”
While the event was originally billed as a nonprofit fair, high interest from alumni and employers in government and the private sector helped broaden the scope. Powe had hoped to attract at least 30 employers, but more than 200 students and 55 employers registered for the event, making it one of the most popular job fairs ever, Powe said.
“It’s a little bit tricky to have a job fair in January, because it’s difficult for students to commit,” Powe said. “But there are employers here with internships, fellowships and jobs in hand for this session.”