The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others – Mahatma Gandi

This Friday the second Central Florida Veterans Job Fair will take place at 10am at UCFs Venue (http://www.eventbrite.com/e/2014-central-florida-veterans-job-fair-sponsored-by-wells-fargo-attendees-tickets-11947153257).  This event was born of the idea that cool things can happen when people work to make things better for others.  Cool things happen to the people served and cool things happen to those who serve.

The job fair is open to UCF students and alumni as well as men and women who have served in our country’s armed services and their families and is expected to attract over 80 employers. I encourage you to attend.  Three years ago UCFs College of Business sponsored a job fair for our MBA students.  It was poorly attended by employers and students.  Further, the employers were the same ones attending the larger UCF Career Expo.  When I tried to find out how many students were getting jobs from this event I was told we didn’t know and it really wasn’t important.  Not being one to keep doing useless things, we started thinking about a better way to connect our students to the recruiters who could hire them.

I had recently volunteered for the Diversity Job Fair held by OrlandoJobs.com (November 21, 2014 @10am). The cool thing about this event isn’t the number of employers (just under 100), or the number of job seekers (around 5000), or even that it’s held at the Amway Center.  It’s that it raises thousands of dollars for scholarships.  That’s right, after meeting costs, the money companies pay to participate goes to providing scholarships for minority students.  “What a cool idea!” I thought.

So I proposed an idea to Roger Lear, President and Co-Founder of OrlandoJobs.com. I want to hold a job fair for veterans that is run by students.  Students will do the employer outreach, will plan the job fair, and will run the operation the day of the event.  Students who need jobs will serve veterans who need jobs.  All the money we raise will go to a veterans charity.  His response, you need to do this!  He’s that kind of guy.

Why veterans? There’s a ton of press these days talking about recent grad unemployment and underemployment.  My students are struggling to find good jobs.  Know who has it worse?  Returning service men and women.  That’s right.  If you went overseas and got shot at, you are less likely to be successful finding a private sector job than a student who is just getting out of college.  Why not help both groups?

So we did it. We gathered a team of students to run the event.  We brought 50 employers to meet around 400 service men and women and raised over $16,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.  We had three workshops, did free resume critiques, and had a dozen non-profit services show up.  The students put on an awesome event and most employers who attended wanted me to send them the resume of EVERY student who worked on the project.

This Friday we’re doing it again.  We have more employers, expect more job seekers, and hope to raise even more money.  This event is growing into something awesome, something our college, our alumni, and community can be proud of.  Something that helps our students lose themselves in the service of others.  Two weeks later the Diversity Job Fair will take place.  But they need more help to keep it growing.  They need students who are willing to step up and serve.

Marshall Bruce Mathers III said, “If you had one shot…to seize everything you ever wanted…would you capture it or just let it slip?” You have just two years in our college.  Two years to do what you need to do to “get to the one.”  This is your shot.  How will you Lose Yourself?

Lonny

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