Career fair boasts 53 potential employers
On Sept. 29, the University of Massachusetts hosted the 2009 Engineering & Technology Career Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the campus center auditorium.
Fifty-three companies signed on to meet with students, receive resumes, answer questions and talk about employment opportunities. Among the 53 visiting companies were Bose, IBM, General Electric, Lockheed Martin and Genzyme.
Finding work in a struggling economy challenges most of today’s unemployed population. Recent and soon-to-be college and university graduates, often without substantial work experience, might feel this usually formidable challenge particularly hard this year.
Because of this, many students feel that this year’s Engineering & Technology Career Fair may have been a more useful experience than it has in past, more economically stable years.
Career fairs are opportunities for students to add a smile and some personality to their resumes and differentiate themselves from others who instead remain faceless job-seekers by applying online.
Cheryl Brooks, director of student and career development at the UMass College of Engineering, said “In addition, companies that come to our engineering career fair are looking specifically to hire UMass students. In a very competitive environment, this is a much more effective strategy than simply applying on the big job boards. ”
Alum Constantina Zapris ’08 made a great first impression and established a good rapport with State Street Financial Group at the 2007 career fair at the Isenberg School of Management, and started working there two months after graduating.
“When I met with State Street, it went really well. They took my name and information, and not long after that, they contacted me about an interview, which obviously went well. It was really good luck,” said Zapris.
“Some students will land interviews as a result of the fair, others will make connections. Seniors are, of course, looking for full-time jobs and the companies coming now are looking to hire spring grads as well as December grads,” said Ginger Goldsbury, associate director of UMass Career Services and organizer of the 2009 career fair.
While today’s struggling economy adds another element of difficulty to the post-graduation job search, many industries represented by companies participating in this year’s career fair have remained stable.
“Construction was down this year, as was manufacturing and commercial products. Other industries such as defense, energy and healthcare stayed steady,” said Brooks of how the crisis has affected industries that tend to hire many technical majors.
Companies that sign up for the career fair aren’t there to make a gesture of community outreach, they are looking to win over and hire accomplished students.
“They get to market their opportunities to qualified students. They are all looking for the best and this is a way to get their name out there or to keep it there as the case may be. Some companies are not household names but have wonderful opportunities. They certainly want to be at career fairs,” said Goldsbury.
This makes the fair particularly relevant to seniors that will soon face the post-university world. Brooks says the fair is also relevant for sophomores and juniors interested in internships or co-ops, as well as freshmen students who might benefit from getting familiar with the skills related to the employment search.
“Few engineering companies hire first-year students because they don’t have quite enough technical knowledge under their belt,” said Brooks. “However, these students would benefit from attending the fair to become familiar with how a career fair works, and to practice talking with industry representatives in a fairly laid-back environment.”
While the fair is said to have a relatively informal feel, students are encouraged to present themselves as they would at an actual job interview. Beyond the professional wear, students might benefit from doing a little research on some of the companies they might be interested in talking to.
“Rather than asking industry representatives, ‘What do you do?’ students should come prepared with some basic information about the companies so that they can talk about specific things that interest them,” said Brooks.
Sophomore math major James Simons said of the fair, “I didn’t know about it, but now that I do, I’ll go.”
Likewise, Kevin Tringali, a junior engineering major, “got some e-mails about it earlier,” but the date snuck up on him. “I think I might go,” he said after being informed of the event’s date and time.
Junior engineering major Travas McCarthy said he wasn’t interested in attending the fair because he already had some interesting job offers.
Michael Toomey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.