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Published September 08 2010

Businesses turn out at College Night to recruit workers

The businesses that set up shop for College Night at the Fargodome came armed with a range of pitches for the steady stream of students ambling through: Eat here, drink here, tan here, bank here.

And the pitch that speaks to North Dakota’s rock-bottom unemployment rate: Work here.

“That’s one thing that we can offer is positions,” said Rob Margheim, a financial adviser for New York Life in Fargo who manned a recruitment booth at the show. “A lot of people are making cutbacks – we’re expanding.”

About 80 companies attended College Night, according to Rob Sobolik, the Fargodome’s general manager. The event turned the corridors of the Fargodome into a sea of spectacle and free swag – water bottles from Gate City Bank, nachos and cheese from Moe’s Southwest Grill, a giant walking cell phone for Alerus Mobile, a climbing wall for the U.S. Army.

Most businesses came to promote their own goods and services. But about a dozen companies used the night as a recruiting trip.

Rhonda King, executive director at Creative Care for Reaching Independence, a nonprofit that provides support services for people with disabilities, said her company has had success finding employees at the event in years past.

“It’s fabulous for a special ed teacher, nursing, those kinds of majors,” she said. She said her company is looking for about 25 new hires this fall. Most of her company’s 450 employees are students, she said.

Molly Heins, a recruiter for Restaurant Technology Services, was on hand looking for computer science students to fill eight spots in the company’s first-ever internship program. Her booth was stocked with foam hamburger squeeze toys (the company provides technical support for McDonald’s).

“It feels really good to be in the Fargo market,” she said. “We’re able to hire.”

The local labor market is buoyed by North Dakota’s unemployment rate – 3.6 percent as of last tally, well below the national average of 9.6 percent. Andrew Puckett, a 20-year-old North Dakota State University student studying business and seeking a part-time job, said it was an encouraging sign to see companies hiring at College Night.

“If you’re looking, and not just here for free stuff, there’s a lot of opportunities,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502