Spring Career Fair: Another shot at internships and careers for 2019
Francesco Corso, Staff Writer
This past Wednesday, the Academic and Career Planning Center (ACPC) hosted their annual spring career fair. Nearly 740 students from the Penn State Behrend community gathered in the Junker Center, where 186 companies had set up booths with recruiters looking to potentially hire students for a myriad of positions.
This career fair saw a variety of different offerings in both the public and private sector, with companies like Welshes and Aerotek being present alongside government organizations such as the Peace Corps and the State Police. In addition to this, there were some companies utilizing technology as part of their recruitment, which included scanning students resumes using a camera.
According to Courtney N. Steding, the director of career services at the ACPC, the student turnout was 30 less than the previous spring. “That’s typical,” Steding said. “What we’ve seen in fall is increasing numbers, so 1300, 1400, and in the spring, we tend to see low to mid 700s.” This holds true for company turnout as well. Steding says that “traditionally, we see more companies on campus in the fall and less in the spring.”
Despite the drop in involvement, this year was the best attendance that the career fair has had by companies. 184 companies were represented at the fair, two more than had ever been showcased before.
With the rise of the internet, it might seem trivial to some to actually attend a career fair as opposed to simply applying online. Steding, however, disagrees with this. “Career fairs give students the opportunity to ask questions, gain information from individuals who work within that organization, and build rapport,” she said. “So, when we start thinking about long term connections, building rapport with that employer is so important, because you get to sell yourself as a candidate beyond a one-page resume.”
Steding stressed the importance of networking and making a connection with individual recruiters, something she says cannot be done with an online application.
Some students had issues with the representation of their majors. Brad Carlin, a senior computer science student, said specifically that he had a problem with the amount of companies looking for his major. “There were not as many computer science places as I expected,” Carlin said. “Last year wasn’t all that great either.”
Similar complaints have also generally arisen from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (H&SS), many of whom don’t think there are that many options for them to choose from. Steding quickly responded to these complaints.
“Our largest major is mechanical engineering, so if you go through that list of career fair employers, there’s going to be a lot of mechanical engineering positions,” Steding said. “However, if we look at H&SS students, I talked to several employers yesterday that were ready to offer summer internships and full-time jobs on the spot to psychology students, DIGIT students, communications students and they said, ‘we didn’t see enough students.’”
Steding noted that companies that may hire students from these majors recruit differently: “They may not have six positions open at the same time, they may not have full-time recruiters who come to career fairs here and at other schools, but when they spend four hours of their day to come to Behrend, they expect to see students.” She added that employers that are coming to Behrend are actually being discouraged by the low turnout from H&SS students.
There were also some issues with the way companies advertised what majors they were looking for. “It didn't help that they didn't have any majors wanted on the sheet of paper,” said William Ghofulpo, a sophomore software engineering student.
However, Ghofulpo’s statement wasn’t entirely correct. The information was available online, but it wasn’t contained within any of the materials given to students once they got to the career fair.
Furthermore, there were some issues with the fact that some companies were listed as wanting to talk to all majors, many of which were for specific positions. “I hate the places that just tick off all the majors,” Carlin expressed. “Like there were so many ‘Business Consultant’ positions that checked all the majors.”
Due to the rising costs of college, it is seen as imperative for many students to be able to find employment after they graduate. “College is expensive,” said Steding. “College debt is real. What we like to do is start that process with students earlier. So, for example, we don’t want you to graduate and say, ‘Oh, I should start looking for a job.’ We want to start that first and second year, so say, ‘What internships can I get, which will pay me, and which will give me experience,’ because it’s that experience that employers want when they hire you for an entry-level position.” She especially noted the importance of that experience to companies, many of whom do not want to be a graduate's first employer.
In addition to the career fair, the ACPC offers other services, such as the number of on-campus interviews with recruiters that took place on Thursday following the career fair. Steding stated, “What we like to do is both individual and group and classroom outreach, so three different venues. Classrooms are great for introducing the services, so what students can take advantage of.”
Steding explained that with classrooms, the focus is a more general pitch, telling students what services they can use. “When we meet in groups,” she continued. “Think student clubs and organizations, what we can do is tailor that job or internship based on the group. So, when we look at the marketing club, we can pitch, or we can create a workshop that’s tailored for what those students need.”
With individual appointments, students can come in and work one-on-one with a career counselor and go over things like their resume. Steding stressed that a major component of that process is making a student as competitive as possible. She noted that “Just because you find something that you like, doesn’t mean that the company’s going to so say, ‘Yeah that’s the student we want.’ So, we want to make the student as competitive as possible.”
The ACPC is located in Reed 125 and is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday.