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Career Fair draws mixed reactions

October 25, 2007

Students gathered in the University Center Riverview Ballroom Oct. 17, as just short of 100 recruiters from employers and graduate schools visited for the 16th annual UW-River Falls Career Fair. This year’s fair gave students from all grade levels the chance to meet with prospective employers and graduate schools to see what they have to offer.

History senior Hsajune Dyan, 24, came to the Career Fair because he wanted to get more information about the Peace Corps., an organization that sends students who have a two or four-year degree to places all over the globe for volunteer work.

“That’s my only aim so far, to check out the Peace Corps. booth and ask good questions,” Dyan said, prior to entering the event. “I want to go abroad and do volunteer work.”

He spoke with Tammy Duve, a recruiter from the organization. Duve was very inquisitive with students who approached her, and she displayed thorough knowledge about the organization.

“I think service careers are growing in popularity,” Duve said. “I think students who are coming out of any undergraduate programs are more globally minded.”

After speaking with Duve, Dyan said his mission was fulfilled at the Career Fair, and he got what he came for.

Accounting senior Josh Kerr walked around the Career Fair with his head up. He came prepared like most of the students and was well dressed for the event.

“I’m basically looking for internships,” Kerr said. “I’m trying to get some work experience early is what I’m hoping.”

Getting experience while still attending college is a very important step toward success, Carmen Croonquist, UWRF director of career services said.

“It’s so hard to get it [experience] after the fact if you’re a student,” Croonquist said.

Marketing Communications senior Cassie Staubus was the Career Fair coordinator this year. Staubus invited 3,500 companies to the event. The invitation process begins in the summer, and the first 100 that respond are guaranteed a spot in the Career Fair. Open access to the event is required by law, so it is legally impossible to deny a company that accepts the invitation.

Student Jannette Paulu, an animal science major with an equine emphasis, was frustrated that the event did not have any representatives present from a business that catered to her major.

“In the three years [that she has attended] they have not had one horse, barn or equine related employer…” Paulu said. “They need to start diversifying.”

Many of the companies that attend the Career Fair have been doing so for years, and they are quick to accept their invitation, Staubus said. The event is on a first come first serve basis in order to ensure good planning, which makes it difficult to cater to the specific needs of students. Faculty from every department are notified, however, so they have the opportunity to request that certain companies be invited that will be beneficial for their students.

The idea of a two-day fair has been discussed, Staubus said, and is a possibility for the future. The Career Fair has always been held in the gymnasium, so this year the transition to the new University Center was a trial in itself.

Some of the companies that attend the event stick around the University for a few days to conduct interviews, so some students could potentially get hired directly out of the event.

As a result of the Career Fair, senior Chris Kuker was able to get an interview with Mid-America Financial group.

“The next step will be to interview with the District Manager and, if all goes well there, I expect to be offered a position that would start mid-January,” Kuker said in an e-mail.

“I don’t think students realize that, really, they can start this job search process a year before they graduate,” Recruitment Coordinator Melissa Wilson said.

Wilson also wants students to realize that companies, such as those that attend the Career Fair, do not just hire students from one particular educational background. In any company a variety of tasks usually need to be accomplished. An agriculture business for instance, might require employees with several different types of expertise such as business, writing, communication or science.

Despite the frustrations some students had with the Career Fair, Croonquist and Wilson said they think it went well. This year, a total of 1,087 people attended the event.