Finlandia holds job fair for employees, soon-to-be grads

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Kate Marin, a part-time adjunct instructor at Finlandia University, talks with Jaclyn Vandiver of UP Health System - Portage at an employment fair Finlandia held for employees and graduating seniors Tuesday.

HANCOCK — A day after holding a fair for students to find their next step, Finlandia University did the same for employees and graduating seniors.

Thirty companies came to Tuesday’s employment fair. Most were from the Copper Country, though the event also included colleges from Wisconsin and Iowa.

Finlandia wanted to do something for employees who will be without a job when the university ends operations this summer, said Sherry Kunnari, a human resources employee at Finlandia and one of the fair’s organizers. On short notice, dozens of companies got on board.

“We have a caring community, and outside of that community, the other colleges and universities have a pretty strong understanding of what our students and faculty and staff are going through, and even individually have reached out to me in the HR department: ‘We’re here to help, is there anything we can do?'” Kunnari said. “And they need people.”

Kailee Laplander, executive assistant to the president, said she’d seen more than one company she thought could be a good landing place. For now, she said, she’s keeping her options open.

“It’s wonderful that they would prioritize their faculty and staff and recognize that this is a tough time for everybody, make sure we all have a palace to land on our feet,” she said.

Kate Marin, a part-time adjunct instructor at the university, specializes in math and computer science. She’d seen two potential opportunities online before coming to the fair: one at Gogebic Community College, one at Lifepoint.

She also appreciated Tuesday’s event.

“I think it’s good for the teaching staff and faculty to feel like they’re taking an interest in how we’re going to move on from here,” she said. “It’s a bit of a show of support for the faculty.”

Gogebic was offering a couple of instructor positions and non-affiliated salaried positions, including instructors for criminal justice and cosmetology, said Gogebic’s human resources director Debbie Janczak.

“We thought we’d come here and maybe have some talks with people and see how we can help fill their needs or get them where they need to be,” she said.

About an hour into the six-hour fair, she’d gotten some resumes and talked to several people who were interested.

UP Health – Portage was also offering positions, ranging from entry-level positions such as housekeeping to administrative roles such as clinical administrative coordinator. Several people had stopped by in the early going, said human resources generalist Jaclyn Vandiver.

Outside of Tuesday’s fair, Finlandia’s website also lists additional organizations and their job openings, said Teresa Hill, director of human resources for Finlandia and a co-organizer of the fair. People can also go to Michigan Works for help with resumes, she said.

Tuesday, Michigan Works representatives were directing people to Michigan Talent Connect, the online job listings they use, as well as a report from last Thursday showing the open jobs throughout the Upper Peninsula.

Business service specialist Ailee Graff said Michigan Works staff can also assist with tasks such as resume building or finding training opportunities.

“We’re trying to let them know we’re here to help in any way we can to connect them to a new job,” she said.

Kunnari had been seeing many employees walk out with information, she said.

The human resources department had provided information ahead of time to help students, staff and faculty prepare, she said. They’d taken it in, and vendors who talked to her today had taken notice, she said.

An employee leaving the fair told Kunnari how things had gone for her: six applications across several fields.

“Awesome,” Kunnari said. “That’s what I’m saying: It may not be your exact field, but there’s something out there.”


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