By Evan Cardin
For senior economics major Nick Malmi, the College’s Career Fair is a prime opportunity to gauge employment prospects. He began attending the biannual event as a sophomore, using it to learn exactly what employers look for in an undergrad.
Now, as he prepares for graduation, Malmi hopes to narrow down his options and make some concrete headway with a firm or two. He’s eager to move forward, but he’s still deciding on the best path to take.
“I’m trying to get as much face-to-face interaction with employers as I can,” Malmi said. “Asking questions is key because most companies have limited information on their websites. If you get the right person, sometimes they’ll open up and tell you exactly what you need to know.”
Held last Friday, Feb. 28, the College’s Spring Career Day brought together hundreds of well-dressed students with employers from all breeds of business. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Recreation Center was transformed from an athletic facility into a bustling forum for employment opportunity.
Although finance companies had the most representation, the variety of offerings was wide and balanced. Displays by U.S. armed forces sat near offerings from the Peace Corps, while corporate giants like Target and Chase Bank shared space with small startups and fledgling technology firms.
For students hoping to create relationships with potential employers, the Career Fair provided a rare opportunity to personally interact with business contacts.
Senior international studies major Elizabeth Maricic found that just a few hours of face-to-face conversation at the Fair provided her with good leads and plenty of information.
“I think the most important part of the event is the personal connection,” Maricic said, looking over information she received from AmeriCorps and Environment America. “At my age, most people’s résumés look about the same. You really need the personal touch if you want to get your foot in the door.”
The prospect of face-to-face contact is a major motivator for businesses as well. Smaller companies use the career fair to pinpoint likely candidates with looming graduation dates, while some larger companies look for underclassmen to groom.
This year, United Way attended the fair in hopes of finding hard-working, impassioned young people with a drive to help others.
“We’re really here to try and foster relationships with students,” said Jenna Johnston, a young United Way employee. “By talking with folks, we can find out who’s interested and who shares our values. Then, we can point out additional skills that the student might need.”
Another newcomer this year was Cinema 6, a recently minted software company from Princeton, N.J. The firm was on the lookout for computer science and graphic design majors with an interest in video editing.
“It’s important to actually meet our potential hires,” Cinema 6’s Stephanie Sotober said. “Our business is just starting out, and our employees need to be able to learn and adapt in a startup environment.”
Sotober knows how it feels to walk the aisles of the Career Fair. As a recent graduate of the College, she put in her fair share of hours asking questions and hunting for leads. One of those leads stuck and led her all the way to a job at Cinema 6.
“Two years ago, I was in the shoes of these students” Sotober said. “I know how important this interaction is, and it’s really interesting to be on the other side of the table.”