Clayton State students took the first steps toward entering their professions last Thursday at the annual Job and Graduate School Fair hosted by Career Services.
“The organizations are a valuable resource to students because they were all hiring,” said Bridgette McDonald, director of Career Services. “Students had an opportunity to display their professional appearance while articulating their skills and experiences gained inside and outside of the classroom.”
More than 45 companies from the metro Atlanta area attended the fair to recruit students for part-time, full-time and internship positions, McDonald said. Students prepared in advance for the fair by working with Career Services counselors to clean up their resumes, learn some interview do’s and don’ts and hone up on their networking skills.
“The face-to-face networking at a job fair provides students a direct ability to connect with recruiters who can provide immediate feedback about the next steps in the recruiting process which is often an interview,” McDonald said.
Thursday’s fair began with a employer’s breakfast attended by University President Dr. Tim Hynes. The event was coordinated by Charles Howard, assistant director of Career Services, who worked with fellow staff and campus volunteers to put the fair together.
Employers that sought students for open positions said the job fair offers a chance for companies to have a more informal interaction with a potential employee as opposed to a formal interview setting.
“You get to see their personalities, what it is they are looking for and what it is they feel like they bring to the table,” said Hillary Brown, area people director for the South Atlanta metro area of Waffle House.”
Latoya Barnaby, talent acquisition manager for Enterprise Holdings, said the face-to-face meetings can expose students to the company’s culture.
“Something that is a huge component for students entering the workforce now is that they want to feel like the culture is a really great fit for them and they want to feel like they’re more than just a number,” Barnaby said.
Many companies offered internship opportunities, which often is the first step toward getting a full-time position with a company.
Devona Smikle, a senior and intern at Bojangles, said her marketing internship helped enhance what she was learning in her management courses.
“I got a lot of actual experience doing actual marketing within different places instead of just learning about it,” she said.
Employers said the biggest lesson recent graduates need to know before heading into the workforce is to not limit their options for career opportunities.
“Keep an open mind. There’s nothing tying you to your major,” said Solanda Dufresne, operations analyst for the Patient Experience team at Emory Healthcare. “Search far and wide until you find the positon you think will suit you and your interests, and once you are in that position always keep looking to learn and explore what other opportunities are open in the field that you are in.”