For recent graduate Kelle-Shae Bryson, 22, it was a way to "get my foot in the door" of a potential future employer.
And after she made the rounds of the companies lined up at the health-care jobs fair at Willingboro's Kennedy Center on Tuesday, the biology major concluded: "It's not as intimidating as I thought it would be."
There were job openings for nurses, nurse's aides, technicians, and other health-care and related professionals.
For Jenna Jordan, a talent acquisition consultant at Virtua, the fair was an opportunity to meet "people we think would be a great fit for our company." Virtua, she said, expected to hire at least a few people from the fair. The company had job openings for a number of positions, including nurses, patient care technicians, medical assistants, and food service workers.
Virtua was among 19 health-care companies, most of them local, whose tables and representatives lined a room at the Kennedy Center.
"It's a great selection of companies and a very nice setup," said Bryson, a Willingboro resident and Rutgers-New Brunswick graduate. "A lot of them said there are opportunities to advance, so that was good to hear."
By late morning, a couple of dozen applicants had come through.
The Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders along with the Burlington County Workforce Development Institute jointly hosted the fair.
The recent closing of the Mount Laurel Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in part motivated the arranging of the career fair, said John Miller, director of Rowan College at Burlington County's Career Services, which is part of the Burlington County Workforce Development Institute. About 323 people lost their jobs when the troubled Mount Laurel nursing home lost Medicare and Medicaid accreditation and shut down.
Health-care jobs make up 17.6 percent of the workforce in Camden County, 9.6 percent of the workforce in Burlington County, and 10.5 percent of the workforce in Gloucester County, according to 2015 Census data, the most recent available. In New Jersey, it is expected that more than 85,000 jobs in the industry will be added between 2014 and 2024, according to a report published earlier this year by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Company representatives at the fair accepted resumes and chatted one-on-one with job-seekers. Among the companies at the fair was SunMED Medical Systems, a provider of medical equipment. The company was looking for people interested in full-time customer service positions.
Christin Roselli, human resources specialist at SunMED, said Tuesday was her second time representing SunMED at a career fair at the Kennedy Center. The company hired two or three people after the previous fair, she said.
"We get a variety of applicants" at the career fairs, she said. "I display the positions that we have available and give them an idea of what we're looking for."
Among the companies present were Bancroft, CareOne, Patient First, and Star Pediatrics.