USF prepares students for Career Fair Week

While job fairs and recruiting events are great opportunities for both applicants and employers, there isn’t much point if the attendees aren’t ready for them.

USF Career Services will soon hold its inaugural Career Fair Week, a four-day career fair featuring representatives from hundreds of local and national companies looking to hire USF students. 

To help students hone their job-hunting skills and credentials before meeting potential employers at the fair, Career Services will also hold a set of workshops as a part of their Prepare for Career Fair Week.

“I think students get a great education here at USF, but the question is how do you market those skills?” said Peter Thorsett, communications and marketing officer for Career Services.

As listed in the Prepare for Career Fair Week event schedule, students will work on pitching themselves to employers with workshops covering resumes and cover letters, professional introductions and career fair etiquette for approaching potential employers.

Devan Coughlin, assistant director of employer relations at Career Services, said the workshops are meant to help students make the most of the career fair by providing them with extra advice in areas where employers at previous career events noted students needed improvement.

Coughlin said more than 500 employers participate in Career Service events in any given year, and Career Services asks employers about their recruiting experiences every time they are on campus.

“Part of our mission is to make sure students are ready to attend an event like this,” she said. “We want to make sure they have every opportunity to get prepared, so based on some of our employer feedback, we decided to present specific topics during this week.”

Diane Mellon, Career Services’ cooperative education coordinator and career consultant, was the facilitator for Monday’s workshop on the basics of creating a resume and cover letter. Mellon said the workshop was also meant to help students create a resume before Wednesday’s session, which features a day of resume critiques from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Career Services office from employer representatives.

“A lot of these events will build on each other,” Thorsett said. “(Students at Wednesday’s workshop) will be meeting with actual recruiters, HR professionals and other folks from the companies who then can … give them the perspective of an employer.”

The event will also help students learn how to tailor their resumes to companies they are interested in meeting at the career fair.

“For example, one of the employers we have coming on Wednesday is WellCare Health Plans,” Coughlin said. “A student may have a question about particular experience: Should I include this on my resume, and how is it applicable to a profession with WellCare?”

Coughlin added students who come to the event for a certain company can also stick around to receive critiques from other businesses, as the event will feature companies in multiple industries. Other companies include Geico, Ashley Furniture HomeStore and Northwestern Mutual.

“It’s important for students to … really do their homework in terms of knowing which companies are coming, what industries are they in and then the specific things that should go into … documents students bring with them to the career fair,” Thorsett said. “We’re trying to give them as much exposure and as much preparation as possible so they can find success next week.”

Mellon said students interested in checking which companies will be at Wednesday’s event can log onto Employ-a-Bull and click on the career events tab. 

Students can also view a list of businesses who plan to attend the career fair on Employ-a-Bull. However, Mellon said students shouldn’t limit their preparation to only listed companies, as some recruiters might plan on coming to USF the morning of the fair.

Besides the resume workshops, Career Services will also host a personal branding and elevator speech workshop today from 1 to 2 p.m. in SVC 5012, a professional dress workshop from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday in USF’s suit rental center Suit-a-Bull (SVC 2088) and a career fair etiquette workshop from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday in SVC 2087.

Mellon said today’s session will help students learn how to promote themselves to employers, while Thursday’s workshop will help students learn how to approach company representatives. Wednesday’s session will teach students how to dress professionally for the fair and how to rent a suit from Suit-a-Bull.

Other than these workshops, Career Services also holds a walk-in service called Career Express for students who are seeking job-hunting advice on a flexible schedule. These take place 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, at the Career Services office and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the USF Library Job Shop.

Mellon said Career Services will hold future Prepare for Career Fair Week events in the weeks before other Career Fair Weeks in the fall and spring. 

Career Fair Week begins
Sept. 22.