By Alyssa Gautieri
Students woke up early on Friday, Sept. 23, dressed their best and headed to the Recreation Center for the College’s biannual Opportunities Fair.
Each semester, the College gives students the chance to build relationships, gain connections and learn about potential employers.
Alumna Megan Hayes (’15), a current employee at New York Life, a life insurance company, said the Opportunities Fair provides real benefits to students.
“Students can meet with employers face-to-face, instead of just sending out resumes where all a company sees is what’s on paper,” Hayes said.
The benefit of meeting in person, Hayes said, is the chance to sell yourself and show employers your personality.
“Finding a good fit is not always necessarily about your experience, but making sure that you mesh well with the company,” Hayes said.
Samantha Zanetti, a junior biomedical engineering major, said the fair aided her job search because she felt she gained an “inside perspective” on potential employers “rather than reading a general mission statement online.”
Nearly 200 businesses attended the Opportunities Fair to seek out the qualities and experiences that come with students at the College.
“The values that TCNJ promotes, such as hard work, determination and respect, are all values Widener University School of Law promotes,” said Barbara Ayars, assistant dean for admissions at Widener University: Delaware Law School in Wilmington, De. “So, TCNJ students are a good fit for us.”
According to Ayars, many students from the College have graduated from Widener University and went on to become wildly successful.
Ayars, who has attended the opportunities fairs for more than 20 years, said the College’s students stand out to employers over other universities.
“Compared to other events, today’s students are dressed more appropriately and it is clear that they take their potential career paths seriously,” Ayars said. “At some schools, the students come up to us at Opportunities Fairs and they’re in their pajamas… You would be shocked.”
Ashley Thorsen, a Target recruiter, also said students at the College have a special quality that no other college students have.
“Out of all the schools that I have been to across the state, TCNJ has produced the keepers for us,” Thorsen said. “The schooling and the background here at TCNJ has produced students capable of success.”
Alumna Samantha Kaplan (’15) is one of the many success stories the College has produced. Kaplan took advantage of the fair to find a job following graduation. After handing her resume to a recruiter from Appraisal Economics, an international business valuation company, she was contacted for an interview and is currently an associate at the company.
“It is all about going up to recruiters and really taking the initiative,” Kaplan said. “You need the confidence to say, ‘This is who I am and this is what I am interested in.’”
Meeting an employee in a setting like the Opportunities Fair is something people remember and it makes a student’s resume stand out among others, according to Kaplan.
“It’s really great to get your face out there and to get our name out there,” Kaplan said.
For all students, it is really important to build connections before graduation because an internship has the possibility of turning into a full-time position.
Tanya Swartz and Alyssa Burke, from Pickering Corts & Summerson, a professional engineering and land surveying company, have attended the College’s opportunities fairs for the past four years. According to the duo, “(their) last four interns have been offered full-time positions.”
Burke, who originally began at the firm as an intern, said it is important to create connections because “most of the time, internships turn into something more.”
The fair offers students at the College a variety of job opportunities and for many students, the connections they create will develop into a life-long career.
However, some students thought the College failed to diversify its vendors.
Zanetti struggled to find vendors that could offer her a career relating to biomedical engineering.
“There was really only one table for my major,” Zanetti said. “The fair is catered a lot to business majors.”
Even though Zanetti did not think she found her lifelong career path at the Opportunities Fair, she still had the chance to gain experience by talking to recruiters before going into actual interviews.
“Also, at the end of the day, I did get some free pens,” Zanetti said.