Rutgers career fairs prep students with communication skills necessary to connect with future employers
Every year there are dozens of career fairs that the Rutgers hosts through Rutgers Career Services. Up to 300 different employers await prospective students that may someday join their companies.
Krystyn Kitto, the assistant director of Career Services and Alumni Relations in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said that for the Rutgers’ Mega Career Fair, there are at least 2,500 participants per day. The event runs over two days, holding approximately 300 employers and companies.
For the upcoming New Jersey Statewide Career and Internship Fair on April 27 the turnout is expected to be approximately 2,000 participants and 170 employers, Kitto said. Students, alumni and the public are all invited to attend the fair.
Career Services also holds events and programs like Speed Networking and Career Exploration and Development. Noelia Vicente, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, attended one event and said it was fun and informational. The program helped her get out of her shell and openly communicate with people better.
“It’s just a way to network with professionals and transition from the classroom setting to the actual work environment, and in order to do that, you need to know somebody from the working environment,” said Jonathan Hartman, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, about his second networking event.
Hartman said he recommends that every Rutgers student, no matter what year they are in, goes out and networks. He said that college is not just about the classroom setting, it is also about meeting new people.
These career exploration nights are designed around different career clusters like science, technology, engineering and math, education and public and human services. They draw approximately 70 to 170 students, said William Jones, senior director of University Career Services.
Students are reporting more confidence while speaking with alumni and are understanding what career pathways are available to them, Jones said.
“Usually when you meet an employer for the first time at a career fair, it’s not going to lead to an automatic job," Kitto said. "But it’s those who follow up, and those who do their due diligence and those who keep track of the company that a lot of the time end up with interviews and different job opportunities or just a really good networking contact.”
For students nervous about attending a career fair, or unsure about how to get started, Rutgers offers a class called Career Explorations, which is available for both a full year and a half year.
Jennifer Cleary, director of the Career Explorations Initiative, said that the class addresses a lot of myths that exist about effectively choosing and preparing for a meaningful and satisfying career.
“The class uses data, articles and stories from alumni (to) help students see that, in most cases, your major does not determine your career path for a lifetime, or even right out of college,” Cleary said.
She said the course will help students build marketable career skills and explore the careers that best fit their interests, strengths and the market. It also provides practice with job-search basics such as resumes and cover letters.
The course builds networking skills and shows students a multitude of real-world networking scenarios. Students can network with alumni and professionals, while also attending events from University Career Services, Cleary said.
Living in the age of technology, professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, have also become big players in the job hunt. Kitto said online networking is important too.
She said that approximately 80 percent of jobs are found through networking. The nature of the job search has changed, students apply directly online while employers receive more than 250 applications sometimes just for one position.
“Digital networking has become crucially important as a way for students, and alumni and job-seekers in general, to reach out to job recruiters, to alumni and really makes it easier for folks to connect with people in those industries in which they’re applying," Kitto said. "However, after you make that initial connection, they do appreciate a face-to-face (interaction) to see how you might connect to the company culture, (sic).”