Matt Berger knows the value of a good suit.
“One thing that I’ve learned over the years that you dress for success,” he says. “If you were a good suit, they notice.”
Dressed in his two-button gray business suit, Berger hoped the companies and organizations on hand Wednesday for Beacon College’s annual job fair would take notice of his sartorial flair and his gussied up resume.
“Organizations always need people who can adapt to diverse situations and circumstances,” said Esteban Lopez, director of corporate and academic outreach at Beacon College in Leesburg, Fla., America’s first college or university accredited to award bachelor’s degrees primarily to students who learn differently. “Individuals who learn differently can possess such abilities because they regularly must think creatively about matters that people without such impairments take for granted, such as how to solve problems and accomplish even the simplest tasks.”
In all, the college hosted recruiters from 15 regional employers: Aflac; Barker Law Office; Blue Green Vacations; CareerSource Central Florida; Central Florida Disability Chamber of Commerce; Central Florida Health; Faneuil; Fry’s Lyon Project; Leesburg Regional Medical Center; LifeStream; Manpower; Massey Services; Morrison Pre School; Orlando Utilities Commission; and The Salvation Army.
Such an eclectic and expansive showing of companies, noted Dinorah Ramos, director of the Career Development Center, affords students invaluable opportunities to “make good contacts with employers.”
Berger, a senior business management major who is graduating in May, was eager to show recruiters he was the problem-solver their companies needed.
With the table set with so many companies to choose from, the job fair was a jobseeker’s smorgasbord. Still, Berger stuck to his diet — sampling opportunities from three companies: Aflac, Blue Green Vacations, and Manpower.
“All three of those companies were very great, very supportive. I think they’re the best three for what I’m looking for in the Orlando area.”
Aflac, for instance, offered his the prospect of finding flexible opportunities in his field. Blue Green offered a path into the hotel industry, he said, while Manpower explained employment prospects were bright both locally and in New Jersey from where Berger hails.
That such a large contingent of companies answered the call to recruit on Beacon’s campus owes to greater awareness of the bleak employment prospects of Floridians with disabilities, Lopez says.
Two years ago, a Florida Chamber Foundation study found that 76.3 percent of Floridians with a cognitive disability were unemployed.
”Yet many of them desperately desire to earn a paycheck, become independent, and recompense society with their work, while enriching organization and its workforce in many ways,” Lopez said.
These citizens, he said, could bring a passionate work ethic and an invaluable creativity to the workplace.
“Today’s Job fair is another example of Beacon’s commitment to provide a recruitment platform for this untapped source of talent, while expanding partnership and inclusion throughout the Sunshine State,” Lopez said. “These days, student who learn differently represent real value, we sometimes ask, ‘how can we secure future wealth and welfare in our society?’ We tend to forget that the answer is our students.”
Berger certainly hopes at least one companies decides he is their answer. And the job fair, he says, allows quality employers at least to consider him and his classmates in their staffing questions.
“Every year the college keeps growing and growing and more companies and opportunities come to help [us] students, “Berger says, “and I think it’s amazing for all students to get a chance to find work after college down here.”