Current economy affects Career Fair turnout

Photo by: Marina D'Souza

Alexis M. Johnson, Staff Writer

With the recent economic downturn, many college students are worried that their hard work may go unnoticed. Despite the economic climate, students came out to the fall Career Fair on Wednesday, Oct. 27 in hopes of using their degrees to begin a lifetime of opportunities.

The Career Fair, sponsored by the Office of Career Development, is held twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. Although many seniors attend the Career Fair, it is intended to benefit all students.

This semester’s career fair featured 44 organizations, many of which were local. Among them were McLeod Regional Medical Center, ADP, Inc., Nan Ya Plastics and Mohawk Industries.

Other organizations with branches outside of South Carolina were present, suggesting that the job market is still somewhat stable.

“Many of the companies represented have opportunities at various locations across the region and even the United States,” Director of Career Development Dollie Newhouse said. “Students who are interested in relocating to another region after graduation should inquire about those opportunities when they speak with the recruiters.”

Besides the companies, a number of graduate schools were present. These included FMU, Coastal Carolina University, Southern Wesleyan University and Winthrop University.

According to students, the presence of graduate schools was beneficial. They leave the option open for those who want to go directly into graduate school for occupational reasons or for those seeking an alternative to entering the job market.

“They had different schools come for graduate programs besides Francis Marion,” senior Julialyn Gerrald said. “I think that was very good.”

One student was able to network with a graduate school.

“The dean of the [South Carolina State University] graduate program came here, and he said I could put his name on the application,” senior Ebony Greene said. “That made me feel really good.”

Although other students plan on going to graduate school, having a monetary safety net before entering was a reason they attended the career fair.

“Though I do plan to go to law school next fall, it would be nice to be able to save up some money so when I do leave, I’ll have something,” senior Christopher E. Covington said.

Networking was another reason many students attended the career fair.

“I wanted to see what types of companies were out here, to see what type of opportunities I could get,” senior Samantha George said. “I just wanted to meet different people, to network.”

Many students feel as if they are obligated to one specific career because of their major, or are unsure of what options are available for their majors. This reason was yet another cause for attendance.

“I definitely wanted to see what local companies had to offer, what to look forward to,” senior Cassandra Moncrief said. “Because being a student here, you really don’t know what your options really are. You go through these classes and you’re like, ‘What am I going to do when I graduate?”‘

One student had the same reason for attending.

“I came to get options open for English education majors or just strictly English,” senior Megan Rowe said.

Yet for most students, trying to secure an opportunity for a job was their main purpose for attending.

“I came to the career fair because I’m getting ready to graduate in December,” senior LaVonda D. Glover said. “I was looking to see what kind of openings they had and what I needed to do to get myself situated so when I graduate, I can find a job.”

Attendance at this semester’s career fair was high.

“137 students attended the career fair, which is a great turnout for a fall fair,” Newhouse said. “Fall career fairs are traditionally smaller events than spring career fairs because of the smaller number of students who graduate in December.”

Besides the students, company representatives also believed the career fair was a success.

“Several recruiters commented that they were impressed that so many FMU students were dressed professionally with resumes in hand and had taken the time to research their company online,” Newhouse said. “These students made the right impression and represented themselves and FMU very well.”

Next semester’s career fair will be held on Wednesday, Apr. 6. While students presented themselves professionally, the only suggested improvement is dress.

“Students who attend the spring Career Fair need to follow the example set by the students who attended the fall fair,” Newhouse said. “I hope everyone gets the message that they need to dress appropriately for the event. When the majority of students show up dressed in suits, those students who come in jeans and t-shirts stick out – and not in a good way!”

Students should continue to take advantage of the opportunities that a career fair offers.

“I encourage all students to take advantage of having so many professionals on campus and come out on April 6,” Newhouse said. “Career fairs give students an opportunity to learn how to interact with professional people and to practice their interviewing skills in a non-threatening environment.”

The Career Fair not only gives students practice, but is an opportunity for students who are preparing for the next step of their lives after working hard to receive their degree.

“It’s a great opportunity to give people that are really trying to better their future,” senior Jake F. Cox II said.