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Story Lester Davis  |  Photography Chris Hartlove

Johns Hopkins Hospital affiliates’ job fair puts opportunities within reach

In October, Angela Orovich was busy preparing to graduate from Carroll Community College’s nursing program when an online advertisement for a Johns Hopkins Hospital job fair caught her attention.

With a December graduation fast approaching, and no job on the horizon, Orovich decided to give it a shot and attend the event. She put on her best business suit and spent time practicing her elevator pitch in the mirror. Still, Orovich purposely kept her expectations low. “I had two goals going in,” she remembers. “I wanted to get information about employment possibilities at Johns Hopkins and I wanted to make connections with recruiters. That’s it.”

And after a round of on-the-spot, informal chats with nurse recruiters from various enterprises throughout Hopkins, Orovich left the Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel, where the job fair was held, believing that she’d gained valuable experience that would help her as she began the more formal interview process at hospitals throughout the state.

Several weeks after attending the job fair, though, Orovich got a call from a recruiter. Johns Hopkins had been so impressed by her that it wanted to schedule a formal interview at the hospital. “I was pleasantly shocked,” she says.

She interviewed around Thanksgiving and was hired in early December for a nursing position on the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s surgical oncology unit.

“I was one of only three people at my graduation who had landed a job and it was all because of that recruitment fair,” Orovich says. “Getting a job would have been much harder without the fair because it’s so tough to get past the computer to an actual person. The Hopkins job fair cut out that step and put us in contact with a real person.”

The inaugural RN job fair held by the Johns Hopkins Health System was billed as a one-stop-shop for prospective nurses looking to gain a foothold, explains Terry Bennett, director of nurse recruitment at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

“We were ecstatic with the response [to the job fair]. We think it says a lot about the level of interest in the local community about Hopkins.”
— Terry Bennett, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

The event featured 10 Hopkins entities—from trauma care to outpatient care, office and home care positions, and adult to pediatric specialties, with locations stretching from Maryland to Florida. It was the first time all 10 system affiliates had come together to host a recruitment fair. The planners expected a few hundred people would attend. The final numbers more than doubled that.

“We were ecstatic with the response. We think it says a lot about the level of interest in the local community about Hopkins,” Bennett explains. “People came from Connecticut and Florida and a few came from Delaware and Virginia. It really reached people up and down the East Coast. … We were really surprised that so many people actually showed up and quite a few offers were made.”

Marisa Astiz-Martinez completed her clinical work at Howard County General Hospital, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, so she was familiar with the organization. Still, Astiz-Martinez, who lives in Silver Spring, says she hadn’t considered the myriad opportunities available within the Hopkins orbit until she attended the October recruitment fair.

The event featured 10 Johns Hopkins entities and drew people from as far as Connecticut and Florida. Organizers were thrilled by the response. The inaugural RN job fair was billed as a one-stop-shop for prospective nurses looking to gain a foothold.

She was also discouraged at first by the number of people already there. “It was nerve-wracking, but I felt really prepared. I just tried to present myself as if I were going for a job interview.”

She earned follow-up interviews and was hired in February as a nurse on the adult psychiatry unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

“I went because I was familiar with Howard General and, as a result, I got exposed to all of the other things Hopkins is doing in various communities as far as health care,” Astiz-Martinez says. “It’s really cool to learn about what the different entities offer in your field and it’s really cool to be able to do that in one setting.”

Modupe Savage, who oversees the nurse recruitment office at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, says managers spent several months planning the job fair. A main goal, in addition to connecting with potential employees, was to heighten awareness of Johns Hopkins Nursing. “We really wanted to help make Hopkins Nursing more prominent in people’s minds and within the nursing field,” Savage says.

Orovich, the newly hired nurse on Johns Hopkins’ surgical oncology unit, credits the recruitment fair for allowing her to land her dream job.

“Honestly, every time I walk in the door at Hopkins I just pinch myself,” Orovich says. “I’ve never enjoyed working somewhere so much. I definitely feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.”

In Real Life

Recent grads now working full time share insights, reassurance

One day in early February, about 100 nursing students made their way eagerly through a buffet of salads, pizza, cookies, and soft drinks. But the free food played second fiddle to the main draw—a handful of recent graduates who returned to the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing for a lunchtime chat about the choices, challenges, and rewards awaiting them in the world of nursing.

Chijioke Okeke-Ekpe, currently in the Master of Science in Nursing: Entry into Nursing Practice program, says panel discussions such as “A Day in the Life of a New Nurse” serve as a bonus opportunity to ask questions that might not be covered in the classroom. “The panel discussions fill a mentoring role for students and provide great personal feedback,” explains Okeke-Ekpe, who is scheduled to graduate in August.

The regular events are the brainchild of Erika Juengst, director of constituent engagement within the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. “These panels provide a real-world discussion about what to expect,” Juengst says.

Okeke-Ekpe’s classmate Rosa Minier says students spend a lot of time worrying about simply landing a job after graduating. The lunchtime discussions help ease nerves and provide good information from people who’ve gone through the transition, she says.

“I think the biggest question is always, ‘Can a new graduate easily get a job?’ And it sounds like as long as you put in the work and craft unique cover letters and resumes, anything’s possible.”

— Lester Davis

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