Colleges and 141 employers unite at largest-ever career fair

Career Fair
Employers in attendance at the Quad Cities College Career Fair get ready for students to take the floor. CREDIT NICHOLAS CAVE

Augustana College, Black Hawk College, Western Illinois University, St. Ambrose University and Eastern Iowa Community Colleges teamed up Wednesday, Sept. 28, to better serve more than 100 local employers and some 500 students. 

The Quad Cities College Career Fair was held at Augustana’s PepsiCo Recreation Center where 141 different employers from nine different industries took the floor looking for potential candidates to fill a variety of positions. 

Executive Director of Career and Professional Development Laura Kentner-Ricketts of Augustana was the main organizer of the event. This fair has roots all the way back to an employer town hall in the fall of 2020, she said.

Employers said there was a need for a big career fair instead of all separate ones by each college. This is the first in-person career fair where all five of the local colleges and universities have teamed up. This fair has been “four months in the making and we have 141 different employers registered. It’s our largest fair that we have ever hosted at Augustana. We have an estimated 500 students in attendance,” Ms. Kentner-Ricketts added.

Companies including John Deere, Aerotek, Casey’s, City of Moline, Group O, Kent Corporation, MSP Tax and Accounting, Quad City Bank & Trust, Quad City Botanical Center, University of Iowa Health Care, and many more were looking for interns. 

Career Fair
Augustana senior Anima Upadhyay of Nepal

Augustana senior Anima Upadhyay of Nepal is majoring in international business and economics. She is hoping to land a job or internship that will lead to a full-time position. Ms. Upadhyay said, “I love the QC. There are many companies that help students get jobs and that actually care about the community.” 

In addition to looking for interns, some of the companies said they are looking to fill full-time positions. Some of them included HNI Corporation, Convergint Technologies, Vibrant Credit Union, Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, Northwestern Mutual, Rock Valley Physical Therapy and Rhythm City Casino Resort. 

Students had different reasons and motivations for coming to a career fair, some were looking for internships or part-time work and some were looking for that first full time position.

St. Ambrose University sophomore Drake Helmig of Peoria, Illinois, is an accounting major hoping to develop connections with local companies that will lead to an internship. Then after that internship he hopes to land a full-time job to stay in the Quad Cities because he likes the area. 

Western Illinois University senior Lauren Dawson of Macomb, Illinois, traveled from her hometown and college town to see what internship opportunities are available. Ms. Dawson, who is in the last semester of her general studies degree, is hoping to secure an internship in order to gain experience and eventually get hired full-time. 

Several companies told the QCBJ that they were looking for students with certain qualities more than hard technical skills. Michael Taylor, talent acquisition supervisor at Kent Corporation, looks for “the drive to learn. In addition to flexibility and adaptability.” 

John Sexton, senior vice president of culture and leadership development at Vibrant credit union said “I look for excellence and that can come from all different areas of a person’s life. That can come from all different areas such as sports, community involvement, academics, work, and more. What does that person do with their time? They should be moving forward and not standing still.” 

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