Annual Career Fair Links Students and Job Market

By Kim Uslin
Elm Staff Writer

WC SIFE and the WC Career Center recently held their eighth annual Career Fair on March 21. The Fair, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Field House of the Johnson Fitness Center, provided an opportunity for students and members of the community to network with recruiters and potential employers from 47 organizations.

Representatives from such reputable organization as T. Rowe Price, Fastenal, American University, Benchworks, the Institute for World Politics and others met with students, accepting résumés or providing information about their programs. “It really is more than just a job fair,” said Director of the Center for Career Development Jim Allison. “It’s an opportunity to look at internships, full- time or part- time jobs, graduate schools, and volunteer opportunities. It acts almost as a career preparedness event. Many students use it to practice interviewing skills or to come in and talk to recruiters about opportunities in summer and beyond. Seniors, too, can use it to secure real careers.”

Seniors traditionally count for about 50 percent of the Fair’s attendance, with students from the remaining years and community members making up the other half. This year, there were 263 people present, making it the best-attended Fairs thus far. The most popular majors of attendees were Business, Economics, Psychology, and English, reflecting the dominant majors of WC itself.

At the Fair, students had the opportunity to personally network with potential employers and programs. “I think the most difficult thing for students is to speak directly with a recruiter,” said Allison. “In this day and age, so much of the application process occurs online. At the Career Fair, you can walk right up to the recruiter, and that does help students significantly.”

Of the students who attended the event, 116 received one or more interview requests from organizations at the Fair. 41 people were actually extended a job or internship offer at the event itself.

In organizing the event, Allison said that he contacted hundreds of organizations about participating in the Fair. The internet age, however, is complicating the process. “Generally speaking, employers and recruiters are very apt to do recruiting online,” he said. “If they go to a Career Fair, it’s typically within 30 miles of the office. Participation is often not cost effective for them. In recent economic troubles, companies have had to cut a lot of recruiting and marketing budgets.”

Despite this, however, the WC Career Fair remains successful. “Our Career Fair is almost an anomaly in its success,” Allison said. “The [success] is mainly due to student energy from SIFE and their advisor, Susan Vowels, as well as my great staff here in the Career Center. We have so many good people working on the event.”

In considering the future of the Career Fair, Allison and the Career Center staff acknowledge the changing dynamic and are attempting to adapt to it. In addition to the standard on-campus Career Fair in the Spring, they are working on perhaps having a graduate and professional school fair in the Fall. Another consideration is a virtual career fair, which works essentially the same way as a standard fair but occurs online. Students can browse employers and upload a resumé in the same way that they would hand a physical paper to a potential employer.

Yet another possibility is company-specific visits or student shadow days, in which an emphasis is placed on a particular organization. Events like these are employer-specific and allow for better student targeting.
“It may only be a week after the Career Fair, but we are already planning for next Spring,” said Allison. “We’re constantly trying to do what’s best for our students, to figure out what works and how we can help them.”

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