Navigating the world of jobs and internships can be difficult and overwhelming for a recently graduated college student. Throughout the academic year, Virginia Tech hosts a variety of career and job fairs to help students find positions that will fit their lives.
Co-sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the College of Science, the Fall Focus Career Fair is designed to let students of all majors and academic levels explore job opportunities, co-ops and internships.
Planning for the Fall Focus Career Fair began in March, with organizers sending out thousands of emails to prospective and past participating employers. Word of mouth is also an important technique to let employers know about the fair. Any vendor that pays the $375 fee can participate.
Currently, 41 companies have registered for the Sept. 28 fair, but companies frequently wait until the last few weeks to register, according to Debbie Wilson, director of career counseling and special programs and one of the co-leaders for the fair. Amazon, Ntelos and local companies from the Corporate Research Center are among those already registered.
“Last fall there were 67 vendors who participated, we expect around the same this year,” Wilson said. “The number doesn’t change a lot.”
The feedback from vendors who participate in the fair usually points out key strengths of Tech students. Employers give positive feedback on students’ preparation and their professional presentation.
The Fall Focus Career Fair isn’t the largest held on campus, but it does have the distinction of providing a wealth of different employers for students of all majors.
Along with the colleges that help organize the fair, the student-run Career Spectrum Council helps with advertising and coordinating the day of the fair.
Brittany Koch, project leader for the Career Spectrum Council, has helped with career fairs at Tech for the last two years.
“I like knowing the inner workings of the career fair and how it works,” she said. “It also allows me networking opportunities. The networking aspect of the fair is fantastic, even if you aren’t looking for a job.”
Koch recommended students come to the fair prepared with an up-to-date resume and having done some background research on specific companies they want to talk to. She also stressed the importance of a good first impression.
Wilson recommended that students come early to the fair, as some employers might leave if student traffic slows down later in the day.
“Students should be able to give a 30-second commercial to introduce themselves,” Wilson said. “I would also say to look at different organizations, not (just) the ones directly related to your major.”
Student turnout is one of the biggest issues with the fair. Last year 876 students attended the Fall Focus Career Fair. No registration is needed — students can just bring their Hokie Passport to attend.
“It is unfortunate that more students don’t take advantage of the fair,” Wilson said. “We try very hard to let students know about the opportunity and how it can be advantageous to them.”