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ECS Job fair looked like there was jobs

Event Date : March 12th, 2011

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By Darrell Smith
Published: Saturday, Mar. 12, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 6B

Employers from nearly 60 engineering and computer firms drew more than 1,000 students to Sacramento State's annual Career Day on Friday.

But unlike last year, this gathering wasn't a card-trading, résumé-collecting, we'll-call-you public relations tour. This year's recruiters meant business.

Companies showed up at California State University, Sacramento, with plans to hire for new projects and expansion plans. Recruiters talked about projects up for bid, on drawing boards and on the ground.

Indeed, employers posted more than 1,300 positions, including dozens each seeking construction, mechanical and computer engineering majors, said university officials.

"The times are still not perfect, but we're definitely seeing an increase in projects," said Adam Della Monica of Turner Construction, who sought summer interns and entry-level project managers. "The positive thing is that we have employers showing up. It's a sign of times improving, and that translates into more positions and more growth."

Sacramento State administrators were eager to ride that optimism.

"The numbers of positions are much more robust and more optimistic," said Cici Mattiuzzi, career services director of the university's College of Engineering & Computer Science. "Last year, employers were saying 'We hope to be hiring.' This year, it's 'We're hiring.' "

Mattiuzzi caught Heather Giovanni's attention to prove the point. Giovanni, a senior software engineer for Prolin, a Roseville-based information technology startup, was ready to hire.

Prolin plans to double its 26-member staff by year's end. Giovanni was scouting the fair for software engineers. Soon, she was also thinking of adding interns.

"These are high-quality intern candidates," said Giovanni, a 2000 Sacramento State computer science graduate. "Now that we see good talent, it opens our eyes to the probability" of creating an internship, she said.

Other employers also commented on the quality of the student applicants.

"We're seeing some energetic folks, and that puts more pep in our step at the office, too," said Melonie Jones, human resources coordinator at Citrus Heights general contractor S.D. Deacon Corp.

Perhaps, this year, hopes of jobs in engineering, construction and computer science won't end at the employer's booth, said electrical engineering student Robert Murrish.

"Last year, a lot of people were advertising just to get their names out," Murrish said. The junior, like many of the students, was busy making contacts that he hoped would lead to a job or internship. "This year, it feels a lot more like employers are asking more about me."

A group of about 15 job seekers circled Bill James, an engineering search consultant for construction firm Skanska. They were hoping to land internships and other opportunities on Skanska infrastructure contracts in Los Angeles, Seattle and the Bay Area.

"The first week, you may be estimating. In the third week, you're on a highway job," James told the group. "We're looking for good talent. We're looking for people who want a good, hard day's work."

It's more than a sales pitch, James said, walking the campus later.

"We're seeing in the construction sector that things are getting better. We're seeing today that there's greater opportunity for civil engineering students," James said. "Things are turning around. It's not as bleak as before."

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