Annual fall career fair has mixed results

Staff Reporters

On Tuesday, Career Services hosted the Fall 2005 Career Fair at the Pavilion. Well over 200 companies attended, including over 30 who were not present last year. Preceding the fair was the first annual diversity reception, during which over 50 companies sent their representatives in early to have light lunch with Villanova students of varying ethnic backgrounds. Throughout the day, in full business regalia, employers intermingled with students from all years, and what follows is a brief report and response to the day by one member of each of Villanova’s current undergraduate classes.Francine Gorres, class of 2009: As I walked into the Pavilion, tables were set up everywhere and everyone was dressed in their business attire. It was like the activities forum that I had attended earlier this year, except for the business world. From AFLAC to Abercrombie & Fitch, many of the companies entertained students all around their tables that were eager to hand in a resume. Being only a freshman, I wasn’t entirely sure how I should have approached the companies, considering that I didn’t have a resume and I was an undeclared liberal arts major. My main concern was that the companies present would not be interested in talking with me, but putting the fear of rejection away, I decided to go anyway for the experience. Carefully focusing on companies that were looking for students in all majors, I hoped to obtain as much advice and information about potential careers from the companies. The career fair was conclusively very informative and eye opening. It managed to give me a taste of the professional world and helped put my education into perspective. Speaking with the companies offered me effective practice for interviews and the chance to ask questions. I was able to speak with representatives from the Peace Corps, various insurance companies, communication companies and many other representatives from different fields. I was able to pick up some pamphlets and business cards to keep in contact with the representatives if I wanted to pursue a job position – the meager seeds of networking. The representatives were very enthusiastic and encouraging, and their insights and experiences opened my eyes to the real business world and now I know some of what to expect when I start looking for a professional job.Andrea Lee, class of 2008: I had never been to a career fair before and I felt so overwhelmed just thinking about walking in there with all those companies. This year, however, offered me and many of my peers an additional and non-traditional way to interact with potential employers – the diversity reception. The diversity reception was a good way for me to wet my feet and get to know some of the employers before the official career fair. I found it very personable and relaxed, very different from how the career fair felt when I stepped into the Pavilion again, later that same day. Although there were less companies at the diversity reception, I got a feel for how to talk to or approach employers, what questions to ask, and overall I found more of what I was looking for – a no-risk chance to speak with a possible employer. Ultimately, the companies that I found at the diversity reception also ended up being the ones that I would seek out again during the career fair. The career fair is a good way to get in there, network and meet all the various employers but for me I found that the diversity reception offered a calmer environment where I felt I could really just be myself, without feeling the pressure to sell myself. Make no mistake, I was still extremely nervous walking into the reception, but it was great place for me to start and get a feel for what the fair might be like. In the end, I would definitely attend the diversity reception and the career fair again, but in addition I would highly recommend many others to stop by at future diversity receptions because I think they will find it a good stepping stone to the fair. The idea of a diversity reception is one that I think should definitely be continued in future years, allowing students to find out what they might have to say or who they might want to seek out later in the day, as I did. Especially for a liberal arts major, the reception provides focus during the hectic fair.Alexis Whitaker, class of 2007: Sometimes it takes a while to seriously use all of the resources available to students at Villanova. As a sophomore last year, I constantly heard seniors say, “I wish I knew about that when…” It’s a very frequent phrase, but not one that I wish to say. So I decided to be a little bit more proactive this year, and what a way to start with the annual career fair. It felt like I must have been in there all day. There were many companies who desired majors in engineering, arts and sciences, and business. There was even an impressive amount of companies who came to visit specifically for minorities. That fresh interest in minorities was most apparent during the Diversity Reception which took place a couple hours before the kick off of the fair. The intimate setting was surprisingly nice. While I was a little nervous, and constantly asked myself how I was doing, I found that the lack of hordes of people made me feel a little bit better about approaching the companies. Hopefully, there will be more companies next year that will participate in the reception. With growing representation, the Diversity Reception will most likely be a component of the career fair that will exist for the long term. I did have one complaint. It seems that when I attend these career fairs, I am constantly reminded that though Villanova is a liberal arts university, the fairs are not exactly pertinent to us. As the business students receive the most attention it appears, and I found myself wondering whether or not I was wasting homework/errand time at a career fair, where I barely gave out five resumes that dealt specifically with my major, communications. Ironically, one of the representatives said that it seems it is a hot major here. If we could get liberal arts and sciences back on the map, the fairs would be an even greater success, and therefore more encouraging.Kimberley Fernandes, class of 2005: There is nothing more frightening for a senior in college to think about the future. Yet the first question out of everyone’s mouths is: “What are you going to do after graduation?” It is the question that haunts our nights and plagues our waking hours. In an attempt to find direction, droves of seniors populated the Pavilion in hopes of finding some corporation that would magically solve all of our problems and offer that dream job. Everyone was dressed up in his or her business best – professional faces on and resumes in hand. Underneath the optimistic bravado, however, was a pervading sense of, well, doom. As we walked from table to table, company to company, we listened intently to the business pitches and appropriately responded with questions – all the while thinking, is this it? While there was, I’m sure, positive experiences for some seniors, the few that are confident about their futures and are obviously going into the business or corporate world their lives are set. For the rest of us, primarily the Arts students, we are left to our own devices, with the choice of either graduate school or settling for something outside of our respective fields. This trouble lies ahead for all of us regardless of our majors in that Villanova has spoiled us. After four wonderful years of pursuing our academic and social interests we now have to officially grow up. For even if we delay the inevitable with further education, at some point we will all have to work and be contributing members of society. And although some of us may be lucky and love our jobs, the likelihood that more of us will be working a nine-to-five job and hopelessly dreaming of what our college days used to be like seems high. Although the career fair was an opportunity to be grateful for, the fair part is misleading; it no longer holds the meaning of a fun public arena filled with delights. Rather, it was a reality shock to many of us, a reality that I am not quite ready to face.