Katelyn Chostner, Editor-in-Chief
Over 300 University of Missouri–St. Louis students and alumni attended Career Service’s 2019 Spring Career Fair in the Mark Twain Building March 15. With 120 companies and organizations and over 275 representatives, attendees were more than likely to find the career they were looking for.
Career Services has been hosting the Spring and Fall Career Fairs for over 20 years according to Teresa Balestreri, director of Career Services. The fairs provide options for all students majoring in different areas, as well as UMSL alumni who have graduated with various majors.
The fall fair helps companies identify summer interns, while the spring fair helps them find both interns and permanent positions for graduates.
According to Balestreri, “Students don’t want to miss out on the Spring Career Fair because in the spring there could be some internship opportunities available… and you’ve got students who are coming close to graduation so it’s a really good time to market yourself.”
The Career Fair provided attendees the ability to speak with companies, such as Ameren, Commerce Bank, Express Scripts, Moosylvania and Saint Louis Science Center. Almost all the employers that came to UMSL March 15 were from St. Louis. This detail is what makes UMSL Career Services’ Career Fair so special.
“We’re an urban institution and we’re here in the Metropolitan area and so the employers that tend to come are our neighbors. With the saying ‘We Educate St. Louis’ we’ve got a lot of alumni that are here,” said Balestreri.
The companies that attended the event asked their UMSL alumni staff members or interns to join the fair to better relate to the attendees who spoke to them. Companies with alumni could be identified with either buttons that said ‘Alumni’ or a sign saying ‘UMSL Alumni Stop Here.’ This helped the companies connect with students and graduates because the UMSL alumni employees had been in their place before.
Many students who attended the event had a positive experience. One graduate, Matthew Taylor, explained why he went to the Spring Career Fair, “I wanted to come here to just explore what kind of opportunities I have. I’m pursuing my master’s in social work right now, so I just wanted to see what kind of jobs were out there that I could get into after I graduate.”
Job seekers were also impressed with the Spring Career Fair, because of the LinkedIn Photo Booth that was in operation. The Alumni Association sponsored this booth as well so that students would be able to use the professional photo for their LinkedIn photo. On top of the photo booth, job seekers were able to download an app to prepare for the event.
Attendees were encouraged to download The Fairs app to get ready for the event. On the app there were video tips on how to prep for the career fair, such as “7 Tips for Researching Companies,” “Career Fair Success,” “First Impressions,” “Professional Dress,” “The Elevator Pitch” and “Your INFOmercial.” People who downloaded the app were also able to look at a map of the event and see what companies were there and their booth location number.
Career Services goes all-out for job seekers when it comes to their career fairs. According to a survey they performed after last year’s Fall Career Fair there were some impressive insights that were shown.
Out of the people that attended last year, 38 percent of respondents indicated that “they had an interview” within three weeks of the fair. On top of that, 18 percent received a job or an internship offer within three weeks. The most impressive statistic to come from the survey was that 92 percent reported that they were more likely to apply for internships or careers because of the career fair.
“Because UMSL is so concerned about our students’ future and where they’re working or whether they are making the transition into the work world, you’ve got faculty, colleges and departments that are very concerned about your growth as well,” said Balestreri. She explained that even though the Fall and Spring Career Fairs cover so many different fields, there are still other career fairs that happen during the school year that target specific areas of studies.
After her time at UMSL, Balestreri has a few tips for job seekers, “You are not necessarily your major. You’re your skill set, and it’s a matter of making that connection and [the career fair] gives you the opportunities to do that.”