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SMC goes virtual for career fair

Katie Kohler | Monday, March 26, 2007

Starting today and continuing through April 5, the Center for Career Opportunities at Saint Mary’s will host the first-annual electronic career fair entitled “Opportunity Knocks 2007.”

The fair is powered by MonsterTRAK, a resource for college students seeking their first job. It will feature entry-level, full-time professional and summer internship positions, according to Jeff Roberts, director of the Center for Career Opportunities.

“We are trying to make finding a job as easy and convenient for students to respect their busy schedules,” he said. “We understand that being a full-time student is hard enough, so we are doing something contemporary to facilitate that process.”

Over the next two weeks, more employers will have the opportunity to join the fair, and Roberts said he is hoping to have 50 to 60 organizations in virtual attendance by the time it ends.

“What you don’t see today, may be in the fair tomorrow,” he said. “We are waiting for more to come aboard.”

“Opportunity Knocks” is an entirely Web-based event exclusively for students. It will cost employers $200 to participate, but offers unlimited postings throughout the fair – a rate Roberts said is “far below that of internet and newspaper listings.”

Students participating will be provided a link to register, allowing them to view the openings and submit a resume.

“Students spend an average of three to four hours on the internet a day,” Roberts said. “We are hoping that when they’re online, they jump around our site and utilize the programs.”

The career fair is targeted at Saint Mary’s students, but Notre Dame undergraduates are also invited to participate. While some positions are in higher demand than others, the Center for Career Opportunities is willing to make arrangements to ensure a strong turnout, according to Roberts.

“To fill postings in such ‘high need’ areas, such as special education teachers or nursing, we may also invite additional guests from select programs at area colleges and universities,” Roberts said.

Alumnae are also invited to participate if they are interested in any of the jobs.

“As the fair is designed to feature internships and entry-level professional positions for current students, alumnae seeking this level of work are definitely invited as guests,” Roberts said.

In the past, Saint Mary’s has hosted an annual career fair in the fall called the “Showcase of Careers,” which was suspended this year to prepare for this event.

“The ‘Showcase of Careers’ is undergoing an overhaul and should reappear on our programming schedule in the fall,” Roberts said. “‘Opportunity Knocks’ is a new offering to build strong relationships with high quality employers.”

This new program, however, was not intended to replace “Showcase of Careers.”

“We are always trying to do things better,” Roberts said. “Making it virtual will allow more employers to participate without having to make the trip.”

Roberts said the Center for Career Opportunities is using this experience to “re-tune” the “Showcase for Careers” for next year.

They are also hoping student turnout will be higher due to the timing.

“Now that we are holding it in the spring, more people are looking into the job market for the summer,” he said. “A different mix of students will be present, but the strongest group to participate will probably be liberal-arts sophomores and juniors looking for internships.”

The advantages of the new career fair, Roberts said, is different for each participating group.

“From an employer’s perspective, it is the lowest cost and most convenient may to meet high-quality candidates,” he said. “From a student’s perspective, they get direct access to nationwide opportunities with high quality organizations.”

The College, Roberts said, may be benefiting the most.

“Building effective personal-recruiting relationships with top organizations creates benefits in new student recruitment, fundraising, collaboration with the faculty and career programming,” he said. “It is a positive step in moving Saint Mary’s College toward the upper echelon in national liberal arts colleges.”

The Center for Career Opportunities will work with the participating organizations to arrange interview schedules to screen candidates either over the phone or in the campus offices.

“At this first shot, I would be ecstatic if 500 students participate. That would be overwhelming,” Roberts said.