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Monday, June 1, 2020 - 11:00am

On May 8, Mercy College teamed up with a local business association and two area health care employers to offer information and access to hundreds of jobs for students, alumni and their families.

The one-hour virtual recruiting event, which was live-streamed on LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook, showcased hundreds of open positions, from medical and non-medical and entry to mid-level positions, — at Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) and Open Door Family Medical Centers.

Representatives from the two health care companies opened the discussion by describing their hiring needs to a live audience of more than 100 participants. They also directed job seekers to their hiring portals and answered questions about specific job requirements and policies.

The first-ever event was a public and private collaboration that included Mercy’s Career and Professional Development team, the Westchester County Association (WCA), and 17 partners from higher education and career offices throughout the region.

“It’s a story of quickly pivoting to virtual events, collaboration between local colleges and the WCA, and the shared goal of helping local health care organizations with their staffing needs while providing job opportunities to job seekers,” said Jill C. Hart, executive director of Mercy’s Career and Professional Development team.

The idea was conceived by Sara Shepherd, employer relationship manager with the Mercy career team. “Mercy College has a strong commitment to establishing relationships with employers who have an interest in hiring our students for internships and jobs,” she explained. “But job concerns are also a priority for anyone whose position was eliminated or might be threatened by the current health and economic crisis. That’s why we opened the event to not just students but also their family members, as well as Mercy alumni.”

After Shepherd proposed her idea to Jason Chapin, WCA’s director of workforce development, he brought it to the workforce group of which Mercy is a member. “The response was very enthusiastic,” Chapin said. “We got the word out rapidly to our audiences. Not only did we have 100 people tune in live, but more than 400 individuals accessed the recording within days of the event. It’s too soon to tell how many job seekers are now in the application pipeline, but we’re expecting a very good result from this event.”

“We knew of several health care partners with urgent staffing needs that were having difficulty getting the word out that they were hiring,” said Hart. “So it made sense to start with the health care industry because of the great need in the region, which at one point was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hart.

“The idea was to get everyone into a room to try and match great candidates with excellent organizations that were hiring,” said Shepherd. “In previous years, we helped organize an in-person recruiting event, along with the WCA and select colleges in Westchester County, that took months to prepare, but this virtual gathering took less than three weeks from idea to execution.” Hart added that a second virtual recruiting event held on May 19 with New York Presbyterian Hospital drew a live audience of 366 viewers, which suggests the idea has struck a chord with the community.

Asked what advice she would give to anyone facing an uncertain future, Shepherd replied, “Don’t wait until it’s all over. If you’re not working, use this time to improve your brand or your skill set. That said, many employers are hiring now. The Career and Professional Development team can help you with pivoting to a new career plan.”

To learn more, contact Mercy’s Career and Professional Development team by emailing CPD@mercy.edu.