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Students feel mixed about job fair

Last week’s Fall Job and Internship Fair may have been smaller than in the past, but the sagging economy didn’t weigh too heavily on students’ job prospects, Executive Director of the Smith Career Center Jane Linnenburger said.
“Numbers were down because of this economy, but the employers said they were pleased with the quality of the candidates at the fair and pleased with students’ attendance,” she said.
Only 80 employers came to the fair this year, compared to 130 last year, and student attendance dipped modestly too, she said.
But 175 students secured interviews after the fair, which Linnenburger calls “a good sign.”
A total of 822 students and alumni registered for the event, with almost 400 senior-year attendees. Linnenburger said about 130 attendees were freshmen and sophomores, a sign that some students were attending the fair to network and learn.
“[Freshmen and sophomores] can get a better idea of career opportunities out there,” Linnenburger said. “The goal is to expose students to opportunities and give them experience in meeting people and talking about their skills.”
Senior marketing major Katie Harvey said she gained experience after attending the job fair and securing an interview with ConAgra Foods.
“The fair offered good exposure to different types of employers,” she said. “The interview I had helped me prepare for future interviews in my career.”
But senior organizational communication major Jenny Durham said she didn’t have the same experience.
“Unfortunately for me as a communication major, the fair didn’t have much to offer,” she said. 
Sales, engineering, accounting and management trainers were the most common fields seeking applicants at the fair.
“Engineering and accounting are major-specific, but the others have opportunities for all majors,” Linnenburger said.
Durham said though there weren’t as many opportunities for communication majors as some other majors, she still found the fair beneficial.
“It was good to just practice and pass out my resume and talk to people about what I want to do with my career,” she said.
Many employers said they weren’t hiring, which both Harvey and Durham said was disappointing, but not unexpected.
“It wasn’t ideal, but it’s something we’re going to have to face in this economy,” Harvey said.
Linnenburger said the smaller size may have helped some students, citing feedback from a Career Center survey sent out after the fair.
“Some students said the smaller size was less overwhelming, since employers weren’t spread out,” she said. “It made for easier navigation.”
SCC graduate assistant Josh Hunt said the students that approach their job hunts as a long-term process net more results, even in a faltering economy.
Hunt said one job fair attendee said an employer remembered him from when he attended as a freshman, showing that networking at the fair works.
“More and more organizations are recruiting in the fall,” Linnenburger said. “It’s important to go to the job fairs, meet people and keep your resume on file – don’t leave any stone uncovered.”