Hundreds of students flocked to Wake Forest University’s Benson Center last week, hoping to land jobs, internships or gain networking experience during the school’s Spring 2013 Career Fair.
A Wake Forest tradition for over two decades, the fairs, which are held in the spring and fall, afford students the opportunity to come face to face with potential employers without ever having to leave the comfort of their own campus. Mercy Eyadiel, executive director of Employer Relations for the university and a 16-year veteran of the field, said staging the fair on campus is convenient, and it allows the employers to get a feel for the campus culture and academic rigor that is required of students. Many professors use the fair as a resource to inform and enhance what they’re teaching in the classroom by interacting with employers in their field of study, Eyadiel added.
Professor Roger Beahm, executive director of the Wake Forest Center for Retail Innovation, said the career fairs present a welcome opportunity for him to market the Center as well as identify valuable resources his students can tap into.
“I want to learn as much about the opportunities that are out there as possible,” said the University of Colorado at Boulder alumnus. “Companies that participate in this fair demonstrate their interest in our students and obviously, the best place for our students to look (for employment) is with companies that are interested in them.”
Beahm said he encourages all his students to attend the fairs whenever possible.
“The students are a brand they have to sell to their future employers and the first thing they have to do is build awareness,” remarked the four decade veteran of the marketing field. “By going to the fairs, they can introduce themselves in person. That is so much better. They can get through the first and even second stage of the qualification process, and accelerating that process – especially this time of year – is critical. It really is to their advantage.”
Nearly 60 employers were on hand for the spring fair, an increase of roughly 30 percent, Eyadiel said. The Nashville, Tenn.-native said she was hopeful the fair, which was intentionally diverse in its offerings, would help the students that participated get a jump on their careers. “I’m proud of the fact that Wake Forest is really making an investment into the post-graduation outcomes of our students,” she said. “You will see that is a really big part of our culture. We really value and care about what happens to our students once they leave here.”
Cincinatti, Ohio native Wesley Lenear will be completing the school’s Master of Arts and Management program in May. He came to the Jan. 23 fair in search of his next move.
“The career fair is part of our coursework,” explained the Indiana State University alumnus. “We’re required to come out here and get in front of the employers. I think it’s a good thing as well to kind of get us some exposure.”
The Spring Fair was the fifth Lenear has attended and he said he is learning the lay of the land. Wednesday’s fair had a broad sampling of employers, which was appealing to him, Lenear added.
“I think it’s a very good selection,” remarked the 22 year-old, who added that he was considering applying for positions at at least two of the companies he encountered that day. “There’s lots of big name brand companies like Pepsico and GE and you also have smaller businesses as well. It’s a good mix.”
It wasn’t long ago that Connecticut native Justin Stevens was trolling career fairs himself, looking for the right fit. Now Stevens, 23, is working to bring other bright employees into the fold at United Technologies, a multinational manufacturing company. Stevens and three of his colleagues from United’s Charlotte office represented the company in its first appearance at the WFU career fair. The group was recruiting candidates for United’s Financial Leadership program, a two year rotational program that gives participants a taste of every aspect of its varied business ventures.
“It’s a great way to experience a lot of career areas very quickly,” said Stevens, who is in his second year with the program. “It’s been a great experience for me, just the networks that I’ve established and the work experience that I’ve been able to gain over this time period.”
Nickey Owens and her team of recruiters are looking to fill more than 100 full-time positions at Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, which specializes in electronic medical records. Owens, who is based in Raleigh, travels up and down the East Coast looking for strong candidates to satisfy the growing number of positions in the field.
“We’re really trying to target specific schools so that we can get the best quality and not quantity,” explained Owens, who plans to attend 20 fairs during the spring semester. “I made sure this year that this was a target school because this is an active school. I’ve had interns from here working with me in the past, so I know how good the students are.”
Owens said she was not disappointed by the caliber of potential employees she encountered last week.