HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) – Finlandia University held a career fair Tuesday for its soon-to-be displaced faculty and staff.
Finlandia, which announced its closure at the end of this current semester, is doing what it can to help ease the transition of its 145 staff members and 402 students currently enrolled.
Founded as Suomi College 126 years ago, Finlandia is the only private university in the Upper Peninsula, and the only institution of higher learning in North America founded by Finns.
Tuesday’s career fair was attended by local hiring managers, representing 26 different companies. With staffing shortages throughout the country, many companies are seeking qualified applicants for a wide range of jobs.
Calumet Electronics hiring manager Mike Messner believes his company could be a good fit for many Finlandia employees seeking a next chapter.
“The biggest opportunity is to be part of a great company, and more to be part of a story of a great company to have people go on there.”
Finlandia Enrollment Counselor Cielle Waters-Umfleet is grateful for her time at Finlandia and the opportunities that lay ahead.
“I really appreciate them doing stuff like this, it really does prove that they cared about us,” Waters-Umfleet said. “This is not just dumping us on the side of the road. They’re trying to take care of their employees trying to take care of their students. And I’m really grateful for this.”
Finlandia director of Human Resources Teresa Hill sees this job fair as a way to keep displaced employees local.
“A lot of our faculty and staff and even our students are local, and their heart is here, and this is where they want to be which is awesome,” Hill said. “And the number of organizations that we have available that have jobs available, I’m sorry. It’s even surprising to me how many openings they have.”
And for others, places like Bay Cliff Health camp can offer a career shift with incredible job satisfaction.
“If you’re kind of caught in the situation that’s happening here at Finlandia and just not really sure what’s going on. We can buy you time if you’re trying to figure out what is next, said Joe Rowles, Office Manager & Executive Assistant at Bay Cliff Health Camp. “If you want to work for the summer, kind of see, you know, might be the calling you’re waiting for.”
Finlandia University’s situation is becoming more and more common, with the proliferation of online education and flat or declining enrollment, 32 public and non-profit colleges have experienced closures in the past 3 years alone. If this career fair sends a message, it is one of hope and a community that rallies during adversity.