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Career fair enjoys high turnout

Eva Binda | Friday, February 2, 2007

Nearly a quarter of Notre Dame’s student body and over 100 employers trekked through snow and ice to the Joyce Center Thursday night to take part in the Winter Career Fair.

“I think this may be our largest and most diverse career fair since 1999,” said Lee Svete, director of the Career Center. “There’s something for every major, which is usually hard to do with a career fair. It’s a mixed buffet table of opportunities.”

Anita Rees, associate director of the Career Center, noted that there was a “constant flow” of students with some showing up at 3:50 p.m., 10 minutes before the fair’s 4:00 start time.

“There was an especially heavy flow at the beginning,” Rees said. “Employers were amazed with the turnout and they’re saying how great Notre Dame students are.”

Students came dressed in business suits and formal attire to network with potential employers and try to land interviews and ultimately, internships or jobs for after-graduation. Class levels ranged from freshman undergraduates to MBA candidates to even PhD candidates.

“I came at the last minute to find a job. [The Career Fair] is practice for interviewing in the future,” said Liz Sarb, a studio art and design major. “I also came as moral support for my friends.”

One surprise of the night was the amount of freshmen that came to the fair to seek out employers, which “impressed” Rees.

Freshmen can have a hard time landing internships or even getting much attention from employers who are often more interested in recruiting sophomores and juniors.

“I’m not necessarily looking for an internship, but it’s good to make contacts and see what’s out there,” said freshman aerospace engineering major Ted Reinhold, who talked to a BP Oil Company recruiter.

Freshman Melissa Dondalski, who attended the Diversity Reception before the fair, echoed Reinhold’s sentiments.

“It was a little disappointing because there aren’t a lot of opportunities for freshmen, but it was still a good experience to meet employers,” she said.

With so many interested students, queues were inevitable at the fair. Long lines of up to 15 Arts and Letters students waited to talk to recruiters from Chicago’s Field Museum while long lines of Finance majors waited at Goldman Sachs.

Students weren’t the only ones who noticed the long lines.

“Employers were amazed with the turnout. They’ve been impressed with how many students have come out,” said Suzanne Thorup, program manager for internship development at the Career Center.

Although Chicago and the Midwest were well-represented, employers came from as far as Seattle and Washington, D.C. to attend the event. Svete called it “a testament to Notre Dame students and what they offer.”

Employers also praised the student body.

“I’ve been in this business for 23 years and have recruited students all over the world, but Notre Dame has the highest caliber of students,” said Sam Long, a recruiter from E&J Gallo Winery, based in Modesto, Calif. “They have strong integrity, great social skills and passion for what they do. They also have the strongest moral compasses of any students I’ve seen.”

Long praised Svete for preparing Notre Dame students so well for the fair and also for the success of the fair itself.

“Lee [Svete] has such passion and integrity. He really wants the best for his kids,” he said.

Many of the corporate recruiters are Notre Dame alumni. Anthony Salvador, a former linebacker on the varsity football team who graduated last spring and now works for E&J Gallo Winery, called coming back to Notre Dame for the Career Fair a “great experience.”

“It’s great to be able to help out the company since I’m familiar with Notre Dame students. I can point out familiar faces who are qualified for positions with the company.”

Svete estimates there will be about 1,000 interviews taking place today as a result of the Career Fair, with about 81 employers scheduling upwards of 15 interviews each.