New Kensington campus' inaugural job fair for veterans sees success

Employers have openings, and they want military veterans to fill them. That was the general consensus among company recruiters at Penn State New Kensington’s inaugural Veterans Career and Job Fair on June 15 in the campus Athletics Center. The event brought together prospective employees with employers who are ready to hire.

Representatives of 57 businesses from the greater Pittsburgh region extolled the benefits of their companies as more than 120 local veterans handed out resumes and filled out applications. Recruiters cited the background of veterans -- training, work ethic and discipline -- as desirable traits that make the veterans a coveted commodity in the civilian workforce.

“In our business, there is no set schedule, the work is hard and the hours are long,” said Stephanie Kasardo, recruiter coordinator for McCutcheon Enterprises Inc. in Apollo, Pa. “Veterans have experienced the same work conditions during their military service.”

A waste management services company and one of the largest environmental businesses on the Eastern seaboard, McCutcheon Enterprises offers transportation, disposal and onsite environmental services for all waste management solutions. Drivers, field technicians, diesel mechanics and engineers are a few of the positions that are available at the company.

One of the vets seeking a job was Penn State New Kensington graduate Matt Knapp. Knapp, 44, earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in May. During his 12-year Army career as a military policeman, his duties ran the gamut from guarding nuclear weapons to ensuring the safety of presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and vice presidents Dan Quale and Dick Chaney. He left the service after suffering lower back and ankle injuries.

“Disabilities inhibited my future in law enforcement and security,” said Knapp, who was a staff sergeant. “I want to get into human resource management, and the business program at the campus is a great way to get started in that field.”

Veterans returning to school and enhancing their skills before embarking on career change is increasing each year. Veterans and adult learners comprise about 31 percent of the student population at the New Kensington campus. The number of vets at the campus is expected to rise in the next few years as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down and more military personnel fulfill their service obligations and return to civilian status.

The job fair was co-sponsored by PA Career Link Alle-Kiski Valley, a support organization that helps people find jobs. Career Link has a representative that works closely with veterans at its New Kensington office.

The veterans job fair complements the annual Alle-Kiksi Job Fair that is held on the New Kensington campus each fall. Job-seekers interview with regional companies regarding employment opportunities in a variety of fields, including health care, finance, retail and manufacturing. Last year, more than 500 prospective employees attended the event.

"This is a community-based job fair featuring local employers with hiring needs here in the Alle-Kiski Valley," said Jim Shields, career services coordinator for the campus and organizer of both events. "It is a great chance for Penn State students to learn more about nearby companies and their internships, part-time and full-time job opportunities."

For photos from the veterans job fair, click here.

For more information about veterans services at the campus, contact Diana Hill at 724-334-6047 or duh3@psu.edu. For additional information, visit the New Kensington campus' Career Services and Admissions websites.

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Last Updated June 20, 2012