Underclassmen, seniors to benefit from FMU’s career fair

Alexis M. Johnson, Staff Writer

FMU will host its bi-annual career fair on Wednesday, Oct. 27 in the University Center.

The career fair, a staple across U.S. college campuses, has been affected by the recent economic downturn.

“Some companies have a hiring freeze which means they aren’t filling any new positions,” Director of Career Development, Dolly Newhouse, said. “And other companies have instituted a new travel policy which means that their recruiters cannot secure funding to travel to university career fairs and community career fairs to meet people.”

Despite the economy, FMU students are fortunate. There will still be approximately 45-50 companies present that students will have an opportunity to meet with at the career fair.

In the coming weeks, students can look for information about the companies on the school website.

“We will post the information about whose going to be here on our website but, we’re still in the planning process so we don’t have that list yet,” Newhouse said. “I would also tell students to check the website frequently because as the date approaches, more employers will confirm, so the list will grow rapidly the closer we get to the event.”

Many students have misconceptions about career fairs. One misconception is that they are only intended for graduating seniors.

“It’s a career fair, which means that there’s actually two purposes for the event. One, it’s an opportunity for graduating seniors to network with employers who have positions they’re trying to fill,” Newhouse said. “It’s also meant to be a resource for underclassmen who may need to explore their field or maybe need to find out more about how they can market their degree.”

Another common misconception is that students are hired on the spot.

“At a career fair you’re not going to be hired on the spot. The career fair is an opportunity for a student in a very short amount of time to meet a lot of people,” Newhouse said. “And the career fair is hopefully a chance make a good impression on some of those people.”

Presenting one’s self to a potential employer requires work in advance. One thing students need to do in advance is make sure they have an appropriate outfit to wear to the career fair.

“Students need to dress professionally, if they can,” Newhouse said. “By professional dress we’re meaning a dark suit – black, brown, navy, charcoal or pinstripe. It means a button down shirt, preferably a solid color; it means a belt and socks. If ladies wear a skirt, then the skirt needs to be the appropriate length – nothing too short or revealing, and they should wear hose and close-toed shoes.”

According to Newhouse, seniors must absolutely wear a suit. If underclassmen do not own a suit, they should try to avoid any casual wear whatsoever. This means no jeans, no t-shirts, no tennis shoes, no sandals, no flip-flops and no hats.

Next to dress, the most important item for a student to prepare in advance is their resume and any other document that showcases their skills and talents.

“Students should bring a resume, and if they do not have a resume, there’s still time for them to create one. That’s something we can help them with here in the office,” Newhouse said. “And if they are in a major where they have a portfolio or a sample of their work, they should bring that along as well.”

Resumes are extremely important, yet there is still information unknown about them. One piece of information that is commonly unknown is the number of resumes to bring to the career fair.

“If you’re just looking in general, you’re just trying to network and get your resume out there, I would say bring at least 10 copies – that way you’ll be safe,” Newhouse said. “However, if a student [has] a particular company in mind, then I would say to that student to create a specific resume for that company that’s tailored to fit that company’s needs.”

Yet another piece of unknown information is what type of paper to print a resume on.

“When [students] are coming to the career fair or when they are mailing out their resumes and they’re mailing out hard copies, they want to print their resumes on resume quality paper and not [paper] you’d print your assignments out on,” Newhouse said.

According to Newhouse, this paper can be found at The Patriot bookstore.

Students, whether graduating seniors or underclassmen, will pick up invaluable information by attending the career fair.

“I would encourage students to take advantage of the fact that there are so many employers here and for students to keep in mind that the employers are here to meet them, and it’s a good opportunity to practice their communication skills,” Newhouse said. “So this is an opportunity for them to pick up the skills in a situation where there’s nothing at stake. It’s better to mess up at the career fair than it is to mess up at your interview when your job is on the line.”

For more information about the career fair, visit www.fmarion.edu/student/career.