The 17th Annual Diversity Career Fair was a success!
AL DÍA News hosted its 17th Annual Diversity Career Fair on May 3.
For the 17th year in a row, AL DÍA News did its part to make workplaces more diverse.
On Thursday, May 3, AL DÍA welcomed job seekers and recruiters for our Diversity Career Fair, which was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. About 200 hundred job seekers attended the event to connect with employers throughout the Philadelphia region, including governmental institutions, healthcare providers, energy companies, universities and more.
Mayor Jim Kenney kicked off the signature event, joining AL DÍA CEO and Publisher Hernán Guaracao for the ceremonial ribbon cutting. The mayor commended AL DíA for taking initiative.
"The most important thing we can do in the city is to get our people educated and get folks to work," Kenney said during his remarks, adding that steady employment provides people the means to provide for themselves and their families while building self-worth.
Throughout the day, between meeting potential employers, job seekers had the opportunity to attend four separate panel discussions featuring esteemed professionals from four different sectors: energy, banking/finance, hospitality, and government.
The first panel, which focused on hospitality, featured Carol Watson, General Manager of Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia; Olivia Green, General Manager of Hampton Inn Philadelphia Airport; and David S. Lynch, Assistant Director of Human Resources at the Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia. The conversation was moderated by Greg DeShields, Executive Director of PHL Diversity, a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.
DeShields opened the discussion by commenting on how crucial the customer experience is in the hospitality industry.
“In our business, it’s all about the memories we create and how significant they are,” DeShields said. “It has to be a perfect memory, a perfect experience.”
The panelists discussed how the business is a rewarding one, providing workers with the means to live comfortably and, frequently, chances to travel. However, the profession can be challenging because it’s not a "nine-to-five" career. Watson referred to the industry as “a labor of love.”
“You always have to dig in and roll up your sleeves,” she said, remarking that even as a general manager, sometimes she needs to do tasks like helping with luggage when it’s busy.
DeShields noted that the hospitality industry is one of the largest employers in Philadelphia, and more new hotels are on the way, creating an abundance of opportunities.
“This particular industry has a great deal of activity for job seekers in Philadelphia,” he said.
Jeannette Reyes, anchor and reporter for 6ABC Action News, moderated the second panel discussion on energy, with perspectives from Angel L. Pinto, Lead Sr. Construction Manager, PECO; Jose Aguirre, Governmental & External Affairs Manager, PECO; Nestor Rodriguez, Area Supervisor, Philadelphia Gas Works; and Jose Rodriguez, Supervisor, Customer Affairs, Philadelphia Gas Works. The conversation centered on professional development and their personal career paths, with all of the panelists and the moderator sharing some of the moments of failure they encountered early in their careers — which, they unanimously agreed, served to strengthen them as they continued in their professional life.
Panelists also emphasized the human connection in their work, as Pinto explained, the hardest part of his job is when he isn't able to ensure everyone's access to power.
"It hurts," Pinto said. "It hurts from a more personal level because you want everyone to have power."
The theme of building personal relationships with customers and employees was also echoed in the following panel on banking, moderated by Natalia Dominguez Buckley, Community Partnership Manager, Santander Bank, and featuring Mónica Cubillos, Relationship Banker, Santander Bank, and Hubert H. Rivera, Senior Contact Ctr. Manager, TD Bank.
Both Cubillos and Rivera highlighted the ways in which entry-level positions in banking can serve as a launchpad for a career, making it possible to enter without a higher education degree and go to school while working at a financial institution with the support of the kind of tuition assistance programs which Santander and TD banks both offer.
Rivera said that he "will hound" his employees who do not yet have degrees to go to school, because he wants to see each of the employees he manages succeed as much as possible, citing the fact that in 2017, 170 of the employees he manages were promoted. This year, he is hoping to up that number to 200.
The level someone can rise to in the banking industry depends on each person's answer to one question, Rivera said.
"How far does your ambition and curiosity go?", he said, explaining that through banking he was able to go from living in "the projects" to having the managerial position and professional career that he now has.
The final discussion included employees of the City of Philadelphia and focused on working in public service. The conversation, which was moderated by Director of Human Resources Pedro Rodríguez, featured Damaris Feliciano, Assistant Managing Director; Edward García, Deputy Director of the city's Commerce Department; Jessica DeJesús, Director Public Works & Special Services for the city's Procurement Department; and Trevor Day, Procurement Commissioner.
The panelists shared their experiences as public workers, highlighting the benefits of working in the public sector. Although the compensation does not always compete with salaries at private companies, government employees enjoy aspects such as healthcare (García said he pays $100 per month for his entire family), access to education and career development opportunities, and paid time off (sick, vacation and personal can make up to 15 days per year).
Feliciano said what she appreciates most about working for the city is the diversity. Having a direct contact in office is always beneficial for communities, she said, allowing the government to understand the needs of the community, finding better (and quicker) solutions.
Day noted that Philadelphia is rapidly changing, and working in the public sector is a great chance to leave a thumbprint in the direction the city is taking.
AL DÍA would like to extend a thank you to everyone who participated in the 17th Annual Diversity Career Fair, and we look forward to seeing you next year!