Hundreds of students, alumni and employers make countless connections at UMSL Internship & Job Fair
Gus Wehmeier appeared to be on a mission at the annual Internship & Job Fair at the University of Missouri–St. Louis last week, making quick work of the event last Friday. Navigating the busy rows of recruiters in a sharp suit and tie, the UMSL business student had his sights set on one booth in particular.
“I came here for Boeing,” said Wehmeier, a U.S. military veteran currently making the most of the Missouri Returning Heroes Education Act. “I dropped an application with them a couple days ago, so I really wanted to talk to their representatives.”
But that wasn’t his only stop at the Sept. 23 event, which attracted more than 600 UMSL students and alumni – and over 290 organization representatives eager to speak with Wehmeier and his fellow fairgoers.
Held in the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center on North Campus, the fair featured a wide variety of possibilities for career seekers in all sorts of fields. From large companies to nonprofits and from local police departments to graduate schools, the atmosphere was one of palpable opportunity.
UMSL students (and friends) JoAnn Schwieter, Ash Hocking and Sean Burkett showed up together and each said they were impressed with the potential options related to their majors – criminology and criminal justice, education and psychology, respectively.
And though they each have a year or more left of their studies at UMSL, they agreed the fair was well worth their time now as they look toward the future.
Computer science major Philip Phu plunged deep into conversation with U.S. Postal Service recruiters within a few minutes of arriving that morning.
“I’m intent on having a job when I graduate next spring,” Phu said afterward, before heading off to visit another of the more than 130 colorful booths. “We were chatting about Java [software], and they’re looking for proactive people. I’m that type of person.”
With participants pursuing internships, job opportunities and/or further education during the course of the day, friendly chatter and professional attire peppered the busy venue from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. when it was time to pack up.
“The immediate feedback from both job seekers and employer representatives was encouraging,” said Teresa Balestreri, director of Career Services. “There is no doubt that the impact these connections will have on the outcomes of our students and graduates will be very positive.”
A LinkedIn photo booth sponsored by the UMSL Alumni Association was a popular feature of the fair again this year, offering job seekers a free professional headshot.
“We really infuse alumni in this event,” said Balestreri, who also pointed out that many of the recruiters on hand were wearing stickers indicating UMSL as their alma mater.
And for many of the alumni themselves, the unique workday was a fun and rewarding way to give back to both their employer and their alma mater.
“I was really pushing for us to have a presence here,” said Pamela Young, a cell line development scientist at Pfizer and UMSL biology graduate. “I’m excited to be here.”
Two of her fellow alumni, Mark Pozzo and Steve Kolodziej, were also staffing the busy Pfizer booth during the event. Both organic chemistry majors as students at UMSL, they now work in bioprocess research and development for Pfizer, which employs about 450 people in the St. Louis region.
“Just in the last couple years we’ve started to go out to universities locally,” Pozzo said between conversations with a steady stream of job seekers. “We’ve found that local talent is something we’ve come to rely on.”
Junior Alex Chapie, who is majoring in business administration with an emphasis in management, was confidently putting his best foot forward with the Pfizer representatives and many others.
“I like seeing a happy customer at the end of the day,” said Chapie, whose passions include human resources and sales, “and if I can take that to a bigger level, that would be really fantastic.”
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