USF hosts first veteran job fair

More than 22 local and national businesses gathered in the Marshall Student Center ballroom Tuesday in the first-ever job and internship fair at USF designed for veterans, sponsored by USF’s Office of Veteran Services, Student Veteran’s Association and the Tampa Bay Technology Forum.

Representatives spoke with local veterans looking to enter the workforce, sharing opportunities and conducting on-site interviews. One company offered a veteran, who was previously a contractor for the Department of Defense, a job on the spot.

USF Veterans Services Director Larry Braue said big job fairs can sometimes be intimidating for veterans looking to re-enter the workforce. In those, he said, veterans are not set apart for being a veteran.

Braue said he hopes to see USF host this fair in future years.

Tony Rivera, assistant director for Veterans Services, said the businesses involved were all interested in actively recruiting veterans.

Megan Moffatt, who served in the army on active duty from 2004-13 and had multiple tours of duty in Iraq, stopped by the fair to see what opportunities existed and to check out USF, where she said she hopes to enroll.

Though she said she didn’t find any companies who were seeking people in her area of interest, Moffatt said the fair was helpful in practicing networking and that she was happy to hear companies were seeking veterans.

“Personally, I feel as a veteran, while I should have a leg up because of the discipline and dedication I can present to any task, because I’m lacking the specific job title … that makes it hard,” she said. “I don’t know the specifics of one thing, but I know the broader of everything.”

Moffatt said re-entering the workforce can be intimidating for veterans.

“It’s hard to go back out there,” she said. “We’re trained in our ways.”

Nathan Lawson, a Tampa-based veteran who heard of the fair through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs , said losing the chain of command that exists in the military can be difficult when trying to find a job.

“The hardest part for me getting out was the discipline,” he said. “You don’t have the structure discipline that you have in the military.”

Caprice Thompkins, a personnel tech from the City of Tampa, spoke to many of the more than 150 veterans who stopped by the fair.

“It’s really important we thank our veterans for their service,” she said. “They have a lot to offer.”