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Students network at Fall Career Fair, comment on employer variety

| Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Students swarmed the Joyce Center Fieldhouse for career and internship networking opportunities Tuesday afternoon at Notre Dame’s annual Fall Career Fair.

This year’s fair offered students the opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from 200 businesses and organizations from a wide array of disciplines. Traditionally, the fair was held in Notre Dame Stadium, but was relocated based on employer feedback, Ryan Willerton, associate vice president for career and professional development, said in an email.

Annie Smierciak
Students meet with employers at the 2019 Fall Career Fair. The annual fair is hosted by the Meruelo Center for Career Development and provides students with the chance to explore job and internship opportunities.

Willerton said the Meruelo Center for Career Development has been helping students prepare for the career fair since the start of the school year by hosting workshops and presentations on resume writing, improving interview skills and building literacy with LinkedIn and Handshake, among other opportunities.

“Our staff of 10 career counselors have been meeting with students individually to tailor their approaches to the career fair, and a number of campus departments have scheduled events in conjunction with the career fair to offer students opportunities to meet with alums and recruiters,” Willterton said in the email.

Michelle Feely, a master’s student pursuing an M.S. in engineering, science, technology and entrepreneurship, said she came to the career fair to speak with healthcare companies. Notre Dame’s fair offered a more diverse selection of companies than those she had attended in the past, she said.

“There was a whole row that was filled with healthcare, biotech pharmaceuticals — also life science consulting — so it was really nice,” she said.

Though some students land jobs or internships at the fair, many are there to acquaint themselves with job opportunities and to strengthen relationships with employers.

Sophomore Philip Hough said he was on the hunt for summer opportunities. He appreciated how personable the representatives were, he said.

“There were a lot of people in there that were really great, especially a lot of alumni who seemed like they’re trying to help out,” Hough said. “ … Some conversations lasted two minutes, some lasted 10 [to] 15. Most of them were actually longer conversations”

While the fair saw a high number of companies represented, a disproportionate number were there to plug careers in consulting, senior computer science major Abigail Lane said.

“There’s not a ton of just pure tech,” she said. “So we definitely have room to grow there.”

Senior Emma Shimek, who is majoring in mechanical engineering, said that lack of representation makes it hard for students interested in pursuing careers in technology to network.

“I know there’s people who work for Google and Apple from our school, but they have to work hard outside of what our career center provides to get those opportunities,” she said.

Additionally, some of the lines for employers ran long, Shimek said. Waiting in line could at times take upwards of 40 minutes, she said.

“I talked to four different companies, and two of them were industry and two of them were consulting,” Shimek said. “And that took me two and a half hours, because [there were] so many people.”

This year Notre Dame also piloted a new career search platform, Handshake. Shimek said she finds the platform more useful than the University’s former platform, IrishCompass.

“I think it gives a little bit more access that might be room for us to get more like employers from different areas,” she said.

Students who weren’t able to make this year’s fair need not worry, Willerton said — more opportunities for career engagement abound.

“The Fall Career Fair is just one of the many pieces of the puzzle with the career development process,” he said.

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About Mary Steurer

Mary is a senior sociology major and journalism minor from St. Louis. An aspiring religion reporter, Mary has spent the last year covering conversations about the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis at Notre Dame.

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