Career Services at the University of Missouri–St. Louis held its spring job fair last Friday with more than 200 students logging on and participating in the virtual event in hopes of making connections, securing internships or jobs and advancing their careers.
The students – a total of 244 registered – had a chance to engage with about 100 companies eager to identify potential recruits.
This is the second consecutive year the spring job fair has been virtual, after having to rearrange a previously planned in-person fair due to surges in COVID-19 earlier this year.
Students were allotted 15 minutes for one-on-one sessions with recruiters and 30 minutes for group meetings, so preparation was necessary to quickly make positive first impressions in the 773 scheduled meetings that took place as part of the fair.
UMSL Career Services helped students prepare by offering resume review and tips on interview skills such as how to research a company in the weeks leading up to Friday’s event. It also provided guidance on how to navigate the career fair app, Career Fair Plus, as well as other support regarding the fair’s virtual setting.
“We talked about the background filter and the pros and cons with that,” said Teresa Balestreri, director of UMSL Career Services. “We talked about going into a quiet space and making sure their connection is decent.”
With the aid of Career Services and UMSL job fairs, many students have been able to obtain opportunities to further or begin their careers. According to data from the job fair in the fall of 2021, 52% of the attendees received a job offer or internship within three weeks of attending the event.
“Our labor shortage is still a huge concern, so a career fair like this is very enticing to employers,” Balestreri said. “What makes us so special is that our students are very diverse. And I mean culturally, religiously and in age range. We have very strong academic programs that prepare our students to enter the workforce. And then you’ve got the grit. You’ve got the student that has worked through a variety of paths, and they have that grit employers are really looking for. I can say that employers love our graduates. They love the quality.”
The recruiters’ esteem for the students was made evident in how many offered them valuable career guidance.
Charles Crittenden, a senior studying information systems and technology, received a lot of support from the six recruiters he spoke to.
“They gave a lot of tips and suggestions about what I should do for my future or how I should go about my career that really shed a light on what I want to do,” Crittenden said. “They gave me a really good direction on how I should go about the next steps.”
Initially seeking a role in cybersecurity, one recruiter offered Crittenden specific feedback that made him shift his focus to coding.
“He said there’s more job opportunity, and it’s an easier access point to get into than cybersecurity right now,” Crittenden said. “He said there will always be jobs in cybersecurity, but right now they’re looking for coders. You can get a job.”
Recruiters had a valuable experience at the job fair as well.
Micah Johnson, lead recruiter at Abstrakt Marketing Group, was pleased with the job fair and the group of students he connected with.
“It was fantastic,” Johnson said. “The students were informed and engaged. We got some viable candidates in the process.”
Johnson was not only impressed with the overall professional quality of the students but specifically their preparedness.
“They’d already heard of us – they knew about the company and the position they would be interviewing for,” Johnson said. “It was all really cool to see. It makes my job a lot easier. Even though my job is to explain things sometimes, it’s nice just to have them say, ‘I already know why I’m here.'”