Organizations represented at Employer Expo are ‘a reflection of how the employers recruit’

Caroline Fassett, Investigative News Editor

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The Career Development Center (CDC) presented the annual Employer Expo on Sept. 20 in the Gerhard Fieldhouse. Each year, the Employer Expo features companies who are scouting potential employees and interns. Though many students were content with the range of employers present at the fair, others were frustrated with the lack of variety apparent in the career opportunities presented. In particular, students expressed their concern that the CDC was specifically catering to students majoring in fields like finance and engineering.

“There’s a lot more opportunities for finance and engineering majors. Coming from [the perspective of someone] from the College of Arts & Sciences, I think that the Career Development Center could work harder to get more variety,” Katie Chambers ’17, an international relations and French double major, said.

“There’s a lot of different companies. I mean, a lot of them are engineering; my girlfriend is an anthropology major so she didn’t even bother coming,” Matthew Nescio ’18 said.

“I hope in the future that there is less of a focus on business and engineering students and more of a focus on students [in the arts & sciences],” Caroline Wenzel ’18, a creative writing and political science double major, said.

“I really enjoy that we bring people here, and the companies we bring are great companies. But they’re not really geared towards anybody other than those interested in finance and marketing,” Jackie Zaybekian ’19, who has not yet declared a major, said.

Associate Director of the CDC Alison Ordonez said that students were not mistaken in perceiving a disparity between the number of opportunities presented for students in the School of Management and the College of Engineering as opposed to those in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The imbalance is chiefly “a reflection of how the employers recruit,” Ordonez said.

“Employers are all very different in terms of how they recruit. Some will come to college campuses, some will only advertise job opportunities on their own websites; some will advertise with schools like [us] on sites like the Bridge. And some just won’t respond to anything,” Ordonez said.

Employers in fields pertaining to management and engineering usually dominate the fall semester’s career fair because industries within those realms typically hire the most employees throughout the autumnal months. According to Ordonez, career fairs and related events in the spring will sport greater quantities of opportunities in the arts–in “magazines, newspapers, anything media, and so on.”

“Companies hire at different times of the year. They all have their own hiring cycles … your big engineering companies, your accounting firms, your finance organizations; they hire moreso in the fall. Come springtime is when you’re going to have more creative, non-profit, public service types of organizations seeking employment,” Ordonez said.

Interim Dean of Arts & Sciences Karl Voss recognized that while there could be better representation for media and the arts available at the spring on-campus career fair, it’s important for students to expose themselves to job and internship opportunities even if these opportunities are unrelated to their majors.

“These opportunities give students a chance to find out about themselves and what they value in a work environment. That kind of information is crucial in helping students make longer terms decisions about careers and job opportunities,” Voss said.

The CDC invites all University alumni to represent and promote their respective occupations at each career fair; according to Ordonez, the CDC “never turns away an organization.” Yet many of these organizations lack the budget and time to travel to Lewisburg, so they will instead opt to post potential job and internship opportunities on the Bridge, an online resource connecting employed alumni with job-seeking students.

“Oftentimes I’ll tell students: get on the company’s website, look and see what opportunities are listed. You’re going to see a lot more than just engineering, a lot more than accounting. You’re going to see more creative types of roles,” Ordonez said.

Still, every on-campus career fair provides students with an opportunity to practice speaking to employers about their personal skills and goals. Moreover, from speaking with employers from various fields, students may discover that organizations which were seemingly disconnected from their interests are more related than they initially thought.

“You look at a company like Coca-Cola and you think: soft drink company, engineering and manufacturing. But think of them as a business; they have a communications department, an accounting department, a public relations and marketing department. They have all of these departments and relations underneath them,” Ordonez said.

“[I am] aware that there are job fairs for areas where there is a tight fit between a group of majors and a group of employers,” Voss said, particularly referring to the fields of finance and engineering. Voss recommended that students participate in off-campus trips “where there are broader groups of employers looking for new employees.”

Ordonez often proposes that students discouraged by the on-campus career fairs attend off-campus events like the NYC Finance Fair, offered during the fall semester, or the D.C. Career Fair and the Communications & Arts Fair in New York City, both offered during the spring semester.

Interim Dean of Management Michael Johnson-Cramer stated that no faculty member, including himself, who aids in developing the relationships that lead to career opportunities for University students “will ever feel like we’ve done ‘enough,’ especially for students in the arts, the humanities, the creative and cultural sectors.” He added that the Employer Expo “will not be the right avenue for every job.”

“These industries–arts, advertising, media, etc.–do not hire in massive numbers, and they operate on a different timeline relative to banks and accounting firms. Active networking, direct connections, and individual student effort (with [the University’s] support, of course) are far more likely to yield those opportunities than a job fair is,” Johnson-Cramer said.

Associate Dean of Engineering Margot Vigeant acknowledged that many companies cannot send representatives to every job fair; regardless, students should take advantage of the tools and resources offered by the CDC.

“We’re fortunate that [the University] has been able to attract more companies to the fair than one might expect for a school our size. The CDC offers many alternative pathways to make contact with potential employers besides the fairs,” Vigeant said.

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