“I had to go buy dress pants,” joked Almeraz, a junior biochemistry and biotechnology major. “I realized I didn’t have dress pants that fit.”
Likewise, Ingersoll, a senior biology major, made sure she was prepared to make a good first impression as the annual fair returned to campus as an in-person event for the first time in two years.
“I dressed nice for the first time in a long time,” she said.
Almeraz and Ingersoll were just two of approximately 300 UMSL students and alumni who attended the event Friday at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. Representatives from 86 employers took advantage of the opportunity to connect with attendees face-to-face.
“It was fantastic for both our students and employers to be able to connect in-person, after two years of only virtual fairs,” said Teresa Balestreri, director of UMSL Career Services. “We were strategic and intentional with our employer representation. I am pleased with our student turnout, as we transition to our in-person, campuswide fairs.”
Though, like the previous virtual fairs, attendees were still able to create profiles on the Career Fair Plus app that included details such as major, graduation year, resume and LinkedIn information.
Ingersoll said she came into the event openminded and ready to explore all her options.
“I’m graduating this semester,” she said. “So, I thought this was a good stepping stone to try to figure out if there’s something here that I might want to do or a company that I might want to work with.”
Almeraz knew he wanted to talk to representatives from bioMérieux and Bayer, but he was also interested exploring options beyond the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Both students found employers in a variety of industries engaging and welcoming. Ingersoll was particularly impressed with Safety National, a specialty insurance and reinsurance company headquartered in St. Louis, while Almeraz was surprised to find that there might be a place for him at a federal agency.
“It was really interesting talking with the FBI because typically you don’t think of the FBI having laboratory work,” he said. “However, it was really interesting to hear that they did.”
Sophomore Max Evets came to his first career fair with a game plan and a stack of resumes.
A sophomore in the UMSL/Washington University in St. Louis Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program, Evets aimed to find a summer engineering internship. Ahead of the event, he prepared a personal pitch and a list of potential employers he wanted to speak with, including companies such as Ameren, Boeing, Emerson and World Wide Technology. However, he also took the opportunity to converse with UMSL alumni and visit with companies that weren’t on his list such as Code 3, a safety equipment supplier, and Ross & Baruzzini, an engineering consulting firm.
“Everybody I’ve talked to has been super friendly,” he said after making his way through the Touhill. “I’ve given out a lot of resumes, so it’s been nice. I’ve networked a little bit, taken a lot of business cards and had some people say they were interested in me. It’s been pretty successful overall.”
Nursing students Chinemezu Ohalete and Ugochi Ezenwa were also pursuing internships and were excited to meet with BJC HealthCare. Ladi Bada and Siji Famuyiwa, both junior information systems and technology majors, were on the hunt for internships as well. Friends in their program had previously secured positions through the job fair and encouraged them to attend.
Going into the day, Bada and Famuyiwa were prepared to be put on the spot but found potential employers to be very approachable. They connected with an UMSL alumnus at Bayer’s table, and Famuyiwa said it was nice to talk to someone who could relate to their career goals.
The attendees’ enthusiasm and preparedness stood out to employer representatives. Jerry Hennessy, a supply chain category manager at Ameren, was impressed across the board with UMSL students.
“A lot of them came by with specific questions for Ameren,” Hennessy said. “They all had resumes ready to go and knew what they were looking for. You can definitely tell they came prepared and ready to hopefully find their next step.”
It was a busy day for Hennessey, who was working his first career fair for Ameren, but it was worth it. He noted the value the university has brought to the company and the regional workforce over the years.
“I know there’s a really strong pipeline coming from UMSL,” he said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to come out and meet the next generation and get some great talent. We’re always looking for new people, and this is a tight market now. The more access we can have to the brightest and best coming out of college, the better.”