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Saint Mary’s Career and Internship Fair connects students, employers

| Tuesday, September 12, 2017

On Tuesday, Saint Mary’s will host its third-annual Career and Internship Fair, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center. It is open to all Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross students, Stacie Jeffirs, director of the Career Crossings Office (CCO), said.

“We pretty much start planning from the time that the Career Fair gets over with,” Jeffirs said. “Usually within a couple of days to maybe a week after the Career Fair ends we set the date for the next year’s Career Fair.”

This planning has paid off, as the Saint Mary’s Career Fair has seen steady growth, Jeffirs said.

“The first year that we had it, we had 25 employers,” Jeffirs said. “Last year, we had 35. And then this year, we have almost 50 that are coming. So each year we are kind of growing it. … We outgrew our space in Rice Commons so we’ve had to add some tables upstairs in the Student Center.”

Jeffirs said the Career Fair offers a variety of opportunities to students.

“We have a pretty good list of employers, post-grad service programs, graduate programs that we reach out to to participate in the fair,” she said.

In order to continue drawing new organizations and employers to the fair, Jeffirs said the CCO looks to implement new strategies to increase student attendance.

“We have done a lot more marketing and promoting for the event this year as well,” she said. “We are always looking for new ways to get more students to come to it, because the more students that we can get to come to it the more employers and organizations we can get to come to it as well.”

For students looking to attend, much of their success depends on putting in work both beforehand and afterwards, Jeffirs said.

“A lot of the success of a career fair depends on preparation beforehand and then follow through after the career fair is over with,” she said. “So, the successful student is actually going to spend more time on the both of those than actually at the Career Fair itself.”

Jeffirs said students must also know what to do during the fair itself in order to reap its benefits.

“When you get there make sure you ask questions, get contact information, so that way you can follow up after the career fair,” she said. “Find out what the next steps in the process will be, find out if they’re planning to do interviews in the near future. It’s not too pushy to ask about those because it is a career fair, so they’re coming here to recruit students. You need to ask questions to find out what the next step will be so that way when you leave the career fair you will have a strategy.”

Jeffirs said although some first years and sophomores may feel too young to attend career fairs, there are benefits for them as well.

“You don’t want to necessarily just show up to the Career Fair and you do want to prepare in advance,” she said. “So what first years and sophomores can do is to research the employers and have some ideas about employers they may be interested in now for internships or summer opportunities, but also employers that they may be interested in the future to build a relationship or connection with them.”

This connection is what makes a student’s experience at a career fair successful, Jeffirs said.

“Building the rapport, regardless of your major regardless of your class year and what you’re looking for, that’s the biggest objective coming out of a career fair,” she said.

In today’s digital age, showing up to the Career Fair and getting face-to-face interaction with employers is especially important, Jeffirs said.

“It’s hard to [network] when everything is done electronically, because to them you are a number or you are a page on the screen that they are looking at, so it’s hard for you to stand out and differentiate yourself,” Jeffirs said “But when you go to a career fair, it’s an opportunity to connect with a person and build that rapport.”

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About Jordan Cockrum

Jordan Cockrum is a junior at Saint Mary's studying Communications and Humanistic Studies.

Contact Jordan