Students impress potential employers at Spring Career Fair
Emmanuel Morgan had a plan as he made his way through the lobby of the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on Friday during the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ Spring Career Fair.
Morgan, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering in the UMSL/Washington University Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program, had done his homework to figure out which of the 85 employers on hand he wanted to make time to talk to during the fair. Companies such as bioMerieux, POWER Engineers and Code 3 were a few of the companies on his list, and the map function on the Career Fair Plus app made it easy to chart a course through lobby’s two levels.
But Morgan was pleasantly surprised by some of the unexpected conversations he had as he inquired about internship or co-op opportunities with would-be employers.
“A lot of the people here were really friendly,” Morgan said. “I went to another internship fair, and people just wanted to give you information and get you out of there, but here, the people actually want to talk to you and hand you information. They’re like, ‘Sign up here. Sign up here.’ ‘Emmanuel, over here.’ That’s pretty cool knowing I want to talk to them but that they also want to talk to me.”
Autumn Greenley, a transfer student pursuing a degree in mathematics after transferring from the University of Colorado, was similarly struck by how engaging all the recruiters were.
“I’m really connecting with a lot of people,” she said.
Greenley has thought about a career in data science or cryptography, but she isn’t exactly which direction she’d like to go. The conversations she had about potential internship opportunities proved useful.
“There are a lot of diverse companies represented here,” she said. “This is kind of helping me figure out what I want to do.”
Morgan and Greenley were more among more than 425 current students and recent graduates who attended the Spring Career Fair.
UMSL Director of Career Services Teresa Balestreri and her team made sure they had plenty of potential employers in their – and many other – chosen fields. The list of companies on hand included regional giants such as Ameren, Boeing, Edward Jones, Enterprise Fleet Management, Nestlé Purina and Pfizer.
But there are also some smaller firms operating in fields such as bioscience, communication, health care, information technology, financial services, law enforcement and social services, among others.
“We worked really carefully and really hard at strategically vetting which companies were coming so that we were inclusive of as many majors as we could,” Balestreri said.
UMSL alumna Flavia D’Souza was on hand representing Sentio Biosciences, where she serves as the vice president for quality. The company, founded in 2009, counts 36 employees with two FDA-approved pharmaceutical products on the market.
“We’ve talked to a lot of students the biosciences, chemistry and also supply chain,” said D’Souza, who herself holds an MBA and a master’s degree in management information systems from UMSL. “We have some opportunities, which are part time, for students who want to work part-time and then also enhance their experience while studying. I think there are some good resumes, and I feel that we’ll look at interviewing those individuals and hiring some of them.”
Siddhanth Bagudum was one of the students excited to speak to D’Souza. A native of India, who began pursuing his master’s degree in supply chain analytics this semester, he was eager to learn about internship opportunities as he works toward his degree.
He joined friends Jahnavi Rannam and Lalith Reddy, both computer science master’s students, in making the rounds at the fair, and they talked to nearly every recruiter at the event.
“I think it was pretty productive,” Bagudum said. “It actually aided me get a clearer picture, going forward, of how to interact with people or make some connections.”
International students, especially those such as Rannam and Reddy about to finish their degrees, have an added challenge in their job search of finding an employer willing to sponsor them as they apply for work visas.
Karima Moumene, a native of Morocco, knows the stress that can come from the job search. She’s been looking for her first opportunity since she finished her master’s degree in computer science in December.
The job fair was a good opportunity for her to make some inroads with potential employers.
“It’s been so nice,” Moumene said. “I was a little bit scared at first, but I’ve loved it. I did some research about the companies that are hiring for computer science and what their missions and the kinds of projects they’re developing.”
She said she is eager to “get her hands dirty” working on real-world projects and learning new technologies.
Melissa Toby, a senior recruiter with Ameren, had attended career fairs at UMSL before, and she knew to expect to encounter promising job candidates.
“This is always a great turn out,” Toby said. “It’s very well organized. The students are phenomenal. They’re very prepared. They come with resumes. They know about the company.”
Toby said she often recruits specifically for the supply chain, and Ameren retains a strong relationship with UMSL’s Department of Supply Chain and Analytics. The company has hired a number of UMSL graduates. She said her director held a networking event on Thursday night, and a number of the students who attended the event made sure to also seek her out during the fair.
“It’s great to see that,” Toby said.
Toby was far from the only recruiter in demand during the fair. Natalie Nolen and Sasia Roper from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency met a steady stream of students throughout the day.
“We really were very excited about coming over to UMSL to recruit for our positions,” said Nolen, whose sister, Shlynda Hudson, is an academic advisor in UMSL’s College of Business Administration. “We have positions from imagery analysts to human geographers – the core of what we do at NGA with mapping the world and the earth – and then all of the support roles such as information technology, human resources, security and facilities and things like that. There are a lot of students at UMSL that have information technology-type degree programs – everything from computer science to computer information systems and software development – and a lot of students taking business degree programs that align with what we’re actively trying to hire right now, along with a lot of the support roles.
“We have a lot of interest. The students are really eager and inquisitive about NGA and supporting the DOD and intelligence mission.”
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