This week, students and professionals will be difficult to distinguish from one another as they mingle in business attire in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom for Career & Internship Fair Week.
Over 200 employers will be on campus Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to recruit USF students at USF Career Services’ career fair. Each day will focus on a different group: the all majors fair on Wednesday, STEM on Thursday and accounting on Friday.
“We really do that both for the students’ benefit, so they can kind of figure out where they want to go and spend their energy,” Peter Thorsett, communications and marketing officer for Career Services, said. “But we also do it to help the employers so that, as we’re funneling students into those opportunities, the students are going to help meet their needs.”
The focus of each day is different to better serve both the students and employers who attend, according to Thorsett. A company may attend multiple days of Career & Internship Fair Week to recruit students for different types of positions, which also allows students who want to attend more than one day to be more strategic in which employers they visit each day.
Thorsett encourages students not to focus on the names of each fair, but to go on days that work best for them and their interests.
“(The variety of days) lets you…plan your visit a little bit better so that you can figure out, ‘Which days should I attend?’ because you can attend all of them,” he said.
While attending a career fair may not necessarily lead a student to an immediate internship, it is a way to build important connections with potential employers.
Thorsett calls building relationships with companies at the internship fair “covert networking.”
“That’s really what the values of the fairs are, that personal connection,” he said. “You can show (employers) your resume, your portfolio of work, what you're learning in the classroom and really have an opportunity to sell yourself to a person.”
Thorsett also pointed out that the people students meet at the fairs are often company recruiters who know in which areas organizations are looking to hire.
“We encourage students to remember to ask for business cards for all the people that you meet, because then you can connect with them on LinkedIn and it’s not that shot in the dark,” he said.
Students who are interested in attending the internship fair can find the list of employers on Handshake, a career-matching service provided by Career Services.
Thorsett said that students might not find that their “dream” employer is recruiting at the career fair, but they should still attend so they can learn of related opportunities at similar organizations.
“(Finding similar companies) is important because sometimes, the direct path to the job that you want after you graduate…may not be the easiest way to go,” he said. “You may have to do a couple other things first.”
Companies marked with an asterisk on career fair brochures and maps will return to campus to interview students at Career Services.
“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible, as Google-like as we can, with the added benefit of actually interacting with a real human as opposed to just typing in a search term,” Thorsett said.
He hopes that students will utilize the fairs as a networking opportunity for future internships and jobs.
“We bring so many employers to campus because…this is your show,” Thorsett said. “Nowhere else are you going to have 230-some odd companies in one place over three days.”