STONE RIDGE — When colleges hold career fairs to help graduating seniors join the working world, it’s common to see recruiters from local corporations, nonprofit organizations, building trades unions and even some state agencies.

When Ulster County Local Next Wave Committee member Eric Wiley learned that SUNY Ulster had a career fair planned for this spring, committee members realized CSEA also had something to offer graduating seniors at career fairs: the chance to speak with young workers about employment in a variety of civil service jobs and determine if that might be a possible career path for them.

The committee staffed a table at the career fair to meet with graduating students.“The students who approached our table really engaged with us,” said Ulster County Local Next Wave Committee Chair Sheri Farrell. “They ranged from coming from a union family to not knowing what a labor union was. When we explained the importance of unions, they really seemed to understand and now want to be a member when they have the opportunity.”

Farrell and Wiley, a City of Kingston Unit member, represented our union at the career fair, but the entire committee spent time in the months before the fair deciding on what materials to distribute and talking points to use with the college students. The material included several CSEA fliers that show the many benefits of being union.The students who stopped by the table majored in fields that include engineering, biology, marketing and business.

Farrell said a few students even seemed intrigued by the possibility of working in the labor movement, so she urged them to visit our website to learn more about the different types of union staff jobs available. Other students were passionate about the possibility of entering public service.

Not only did the CSEA presence at the career fair get students thinking about pursuing the work our members do, Farrell said her committee hoped their outreach would yield a broader benefit.

“We wanted the students to see that finding a union job right out of college is an option that will benefit them long term,” Farrell said. “Joining a union isn’t something we think is emphasized as an option to many students. We saw we could change that by stepping up, so we did.”

— Jessica Ladlee

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Jessica Ladlee

Jessica Ladlee is the communications specialist for CSEA's Southern Region. A graduate of Boston University, Ladlee is an award-winning journalist who worked as a newspaper editor before joining the CSEA communications team in 2004. She is passionate about the opportunities unions provide for people to join the middle class, something her grandmother did as a Rockland County CSEA member over 50 years ago.

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