It’s the business version of Hamilton’s art crawl.
A first-ever employment crawl hosted by McMaster University’s Student Success Centre was inspired by the popularity of the James Street North event.
The goal of the April 25-26 event is to introduce the city and its employers to McMaster students.
“I joined a number of community committees and everyone was talking about wanting to keep Mac grads in our city,” said Gisela Oliveira, employment services co-ordinator at the Student Success Centre.
But many students see their time in Hamilton as a “pit stop. They’re here to get an education, but they see Toronto as the place to start a career,” she said.
“They don’t really know what Hamilton has to offer. When I tell students I went skating at the pier at the outdoor rink, they look at me like I’m crazy … We want to show them there is more to Hamilton than Westdale.”
So two buses each day will take final-year Mac students and recent grads to visit a series of employers in manufacturing, technology, health, social services, creative industries, government and finance.
There are still a few places open for employers interested in taking part and registration for students is ongoing.
Employers are asked to offer a tour of their facility and a presentation to their student visitors about present or future job opportunities and why Hamilton is the place they’ve chosen to do business.
Hamilton’s emergency services, police, fire and ambulance are taking part. Students will get a tour of the city’s training academy on the south Mountain and will hear about opportunities for jobs in those services.
Rosemarie Auld, manager of human resources with Hamilton Police Service, says the department hires from all educational backgrounds and is constantly recruiting for police officers as well as a wide range of civilian positions.
The service will hire 25 officers by the end of the year and is looking for clerical and human resources staff, emergency dispatchers and IT specialists.
Auld says McMaster grads are attractive to the department because of their communication skills, their diversity and their existing ties to the city.
“If we can retain students who are graduating from Mac with careers in Hamilton, it’s positive for the city,” she said.
Cobalt Connects (formerly the Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts) will also host the student tour. Steph Seagram, community connector lead, says her goal is to show students how their studies at the university can link with creative industries and entrepreneurs across the city.
Seagram hopes the employment crawl will inspire students to explore the city on their own once they see what it can offer.
“I commend Mac for doing this, for getting students off the campus and connecting them with people in the city. It’s fabulous.”
Other employers confirmed to take part are: Stryker Canada, YWCA downtown Hamilton, North Hamilton Community Health Centre, City of Hamilton Small Business Enterprise Centre, McMaster Innovation Park and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Oliveira doesn’t know of another university doing a similar employment outreach event.
The goal is to follow this up each year, perhaps eventually offering a city orientation to first-year students, says Oliveira.
“It’s important to get them early because by their final year, their plans are made. Nothing is going to change their mind. But if we start in year one showing them what the city is about and the opportunities that are here, we can convince them to stay.”
The employment crawl also includes a two-minute video contest in which students are asked to submit what they like about Hamilton. The winner will be showcased at the closing network event at Theatre Aquarius on April 26.
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