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UMaine Career Fair Jan. 30 Drawing Record Numbers

Contact: Patricia Counihan, 581-1355; George Manlove, 581-3756

ORONO — Some of the companies sending recruiters for the first time to the University of Maine Career Fair next week include Lowe’s home improvements chain, L.L. Bean, C.H. Robinson of Minnesota, the world’s largest produce marketer, and ValleyCrest Companies, a California-based landscape corporation known as the “landscaper of the stars.”

Some of last year’s first-time registrants included several big box retailers, including Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Target, The Home Depot and Shaw’s supermarkets.

With 150 companies — up from 118 last year — planning to send representatives to UMaine for the 2008 Career Fair on Jan. 30, UMaine Career Center Director Patty Counihan says the fair is at capacity, with a growing waiting list. The fair is sponsored by the UMaine Career Center, a member of the Division of Student Affairs.

Thousands of college students from all classes and majors attend the Career Fair, one of the state’s largest assemblies of college students and prospective employers. Many students line up future jobs or internships as a result of the connections made at the fair.

The event, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is being held in the UMaine Student Recreation and Fitness Center.

Counihan also sees the Career Fair as an economic barometer. With such remarkable participant interest, she sees puzzling contradictions to widespread concerns about a weakening economy. Counihan capped this year’s record registration list at 150 because of space limits.

“You read the paper, you hear the news, and you hear that the economy is going south, and then you see this,” she says of the largest ever registration list. “The economy is booming from what we’re seeing. Employers have lots and lots of jobs. ”

The Career Fair provides UMaine and other college students an opportunity to meet with business representatives, hand out resumes and learn more about the companies looking to hire Maine college graduates. Counihan encourages students to dress professionally and be prepared for follow-up interview sessions. More than a dozen of the companies will have representatives available on Jan. 31 for more detailed next-day interviews, she says.

Employers from Maine and throughout the country represent an expanding variety of career fields, from engineering and sciences to retail management, and even the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Other fields include healthcare, social services, education and government. Companies are coming from Texas and Florida, in addition to California and Minnesota.

One new participant sending a representative to the Career Fair is ValleyCrest Companies of Los Angeles. With 10,000 employees at various hubs around the nation, ValleyCrest wants to learn more about the UMaine landscape horticulture programs, faculty and students, says Patrick McVicker, a regional recruiter in the company’s Virginia offices.

Professor Bill Mitchell, UMaine’s Landscape Horticulture Program coordinator, met ValleyCrest representatives at a national landscape competition last year and invited the company to visit UMaine. McVicker says the company is looking for long-term relationships with colleges and universities with landscape programs to see how those institutions’ curricula, and students, fit with the ValleyCrest philosophy.

ValleyCrest is a billion-dollar company with multiple divisions, ranging from landscape architecture, development and maintenance, to estate landscaping and golf course design, construction and management. The company also is known for its Hollywood clients.

Students enrolled at any college or university in Maine are invited to attend, along with UMaine alumni. Underclass students and graduate students are equally encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact the Career Center at 581-1359 or visit its offices on the third floor of the Memorial Union. The Career Center website (www.umaine.edu/career/) has a complete list of participating companies.

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