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The Linn-Benton Community College Career Fair can change lives, said Brian Swearingin.

“It really does. As long as you show some initiative and talk to people, the jobs are out there,” he added.

He would know: Two years ago, Swearingin attended the fair as an LBCC computer-aided design and drafting student and landed an internship with Smith Monroe Gray Engineers of Portland.

“At the end of the summer, they were like, ‘How about a full-time job?’” Swearingin recalled.

On Wednesday, Swearingin was back in Albany, representing his company and talking with job seekers at the fair.

More than 100 employers had booths at the LBCC Career Fair, said Marci Johnston, career and advising specialist for the college.

More than 700 job seekers attended the Career Fair on Wednesday, Johnston said. That’s down from during the recession, when jobs were scarce and about 800 to 1,200 people attended the event, she added.

“I think a lot of people have jobs already. They’re landing jobs before they graduate,” said Andy Perry, business relations director for Anderson Perry & Associates, an engineering firm based in La Grande.

“I can’t hardly buy a resume, let alone hire anybody. Oregon has a huge need for civil engineering jobs right now,” Perry added.

With companies eager for new workers, Johnston said that some employers are hiring people with backgrounds that they might not have considered years ago. "It's a good time for people transitioning career or people with less experience," Johnston said.

Some companies are hiring students for part-time jobs, but the students must agree to join the company after graduation, Johnston added.

Dan Huang, a doctoral student in chemical engineering at Oregon State University, talked to several companies on Wednesday as she looked for a job.

“Right now, I’m open to all types of opportunities. … I’m still pretty new to the job market,” she said. Huang added that many companies seemed eager for new hires.

Some companies left happy, according to Johnston. "I know that some hires happened on the spot today," she said.

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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