By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Seventeen years ago Kathy Sanger went to a career fair in Mankato and was hired by Rasmussen College, where she still works today.
Now campus director, Sanger loves to show the hundreds of students at Rasmussen how effective career expos can be. That’s why the college offers its Career and Networking Expo twice a year, and that’s why dozens of employers show up to recruit new talent.
“There are jobs in Mankato,” Sanger said, adding that landing a good one often involves meeting the right people.
Amelia Howell was one of the Rasmussen students taking advantage of the opportunity of having employers come to her. Just two quarters into an LPN nursing program, Howell said she’s ready for some practical, hands-on experience in the health-care field.
Howell attended Thursday’s expo to look for volunteer opportunities as well as network with companies, such as Harry Meyering Center, to look into working overnight shifts to coincide with her daytime school schedule.
On her way to eventually earning her RN degree and becoming a nurse practitioner, Howell said events like the career expo help her meet people who could one day hire her as a nurse, she said.
Gail Miller, program director for REM Heartland, was one of the employers at the expo looking for staff just like Howell. Thursday was Miller’s first time at Rasmussen’s expo, and she said the event helps introduce people to the field. It’s also an opportunity to meet people who have family members who may need REM’s services, she said.
Miller has worked for REM for 37 years, and she said the company would be appealing to a wide range of workers.
“We’re known for having a home-like atmosphere,” she said. “You do a wide variety of things, and we treat each resident as an individual. ... We provide all the training they need.”
Almost 40 companies had booths at the expo, and Sanger said there were companies geared toward each of Rasmussen’s six schools of study.
Allen Aukes of Blue Earth’s Midwest IT Systems was there recruiting interns for the small-business, computer-support company.
“We help business owners sleep at night,” he said of the company.
Aukes said the company offers paid internships that give real-world IT experience to students. Interns work on firewalls, basic security and cleaning out viruses, among other things, and they go out on calls beside professional engineers.
“It’s a way for us to try out an employee, and for the employee to try us out,” he said.
The company also offers a $2,500 tuition reimbursement after a six-month internship completion that leads to a full-time position.
The expo was open to community members as well, Sanger said. Other components of the event included LinkedIn training, a clothing shop with donated business attire, interview and resume tips, guidance from career-service advisers, and to the delight of many attendees, free food.