Fairfield University’s Career Center hosted opportunities for connections and success at their Spring Career & Internship Fair on Feb. 15.

Over 105 companies and organizations represented themselves to 625 university students, open to any major and class year; conveniently, the event took place in the Leslie C. Quick Jr. RecPlex field house. 

Deidre Bennett, the Associate Director of the Career Center and Employer Engagement and leader of the fair, dubbed the event’s main goal as creating an easy outlet for students to connect with employers.

“Career fairs are an effective way to get over 100 employers together in one space so students can connect with many of them in a convenient, effective way,” she said. “No matter what the class year or major, there are employers looking to connect with all students.”

Many of these company representatives are Fairfield University alumni themselves, furthering that aspect of connection between employee and employer, and past and present Stags. 

Sophomore management and marketing major Ainsley Corriveau recognized the impact and valuation of establishing and engaging with alumni while building those crucial connections. 

 “[It was] such a great opportunity to have, and being able to connect with alumni really shows the full circle of the Fairfield community,” she said.

Tables housed with company representatives lined the field house’s interior. Flyers, brochures and informational sheets advertised employers and supplied students with sufficient information regarding each company. Additional and attractive items, such as candy, balloons, interactive games and branded bags, were present on most tables to draw in prospective students and increase guest engagement.

Upon arrival at the fair, students approached a check-in station, in which staff printed name tags through students’ Stag Cards. These name tags included the students’ names, majors and graduation dates.

This business-casual occasion required students to take their own professional initiative. It centered itself around student-led networking in which they approach desired tables, state their “elevator pitch,” and ask representatives relevant questions as well as for their contact information. 

An elevator pitch is a brief introduction used in professional settings. It communicates a person’s key qualifications and experience and expands on future career goals the speaker hopes to achieve.

Students were also encouraged to send thank you notes to employers they spoke with, following up on discussed activities and any significant points of interest within their conversation.

Bennett relayed that the most “rewarding” aspects of running a career fair are “when a student tells us they received a job or internship offer, or when alumni return with their employers to recruit current students.”

These career fairs are certainly no ploy; members of the Career Center have watched their students achieve positions directly by attending the event. 

“A company reached out to us this week to say they extended an offer to a current senior who will start working for them this summer,” Bennett reported. “They met her while at the fall career fair and were so happy they participated.”

Additionally, Bennett conveyed another story of internship successes. 

“We also got feedback from several employers at this week’s Career Fair that they filled their Summer Internships with students they met. Other employers planned to interview many of the students they met.”

Despite Fairfield University’s prominent business school, career events do not solely benefit business students. Stephanie Gallo, Director of Career Planning for the College of Arts and Sciences, reported a career success from a math major after participating in the Fall Career Fair.

“In the Fall, one of my former students, Carly Manzi, made a connection with Pratt & Whitney, which eventually led to a full-time offer,” Gallo stated. “Further proof this is not just for business students.”

A wide array of companies attended the event, with the point of attracting a wide array of student interests. From Girl Scouts of Connecticut to Aptar Beauty & Home and Sherwin-Williams, students were given an abundance of choices not just to browse, but to interact with. 

At the check-in station, students were handed a document with a list of all attending companies, as well as the companies’ table numbers. These companies were also posted on Stags4Hire previous to the event, with the intended purpose of preliminary student research.

Stags4Hire is a career-oriented platform powered by Handshake and used by Fairfield University students. It allows students to connect with job seekers, and job seekers to students, “at all career stages.” Users can create a job profile, upload resumes and supporting documents and receive alerts about job openings and postings. And, Fairfield’s vast array of academic choices provides opportunities regarding any career interest or experience needs.

This outlet is heavily endorsed by Fairfield’s Career Center for students actively seeking job positions.

Aside from the companies themselves, the fair encouraged students to take advantage of several professional resources. A LinkedIn photo booth gave students the chance to update their profile pictures, a printing station was available to print extra copies of resumes and coat racks stood on the sidelines to hang up jackets and backpacks–ensuring a smooth and productive experience for all. 

“Shout out to Fairfield for the well-planned event!” said sophomore finance major Colby Zelano.

Moreover, Career Counselors, Career Peer Advisors and an “Ask an Advisor” table were available at the fair to answer any questions students may have held. 

The University Career Center works diligently, and far in advance, to produce these well-liked career fairs–which occur multiple times throughout the year. Bennett summarized their process, which includes regular staff meetings “to select the date and venue and create the registration process and marketing plan.”

“The staff also works closely with many other departments on campus to coordinate all the logistics,” she said, “such as food, equipment, electricity, parking, marketing materials, setup and cleanup, etc.”

The Career Center takes pride in its students and truly wants them to succeed. In the days leading up to the Career Fair, they hold workshops for students to improve their resumes, networking skills and Stags4Hire and LinkedIn profiles.

“The University Career Center serves as a one-stop shop where students can drop in to meet with Career Peer Advisors, borrow professional attire from the Career Closet and get a LinkedIn headshot,” said Bennett. 

The Career Closet is a resource for students to browse and borrow business casual attire in the instance they do not have their own, particularly for professional events such as a Career Fair. 

Furthermore, the companies who participate in Fairfield University’s Career Fairs hold a genuine desire to recruit the talent of Fairfield University students. According to Bennett, because the university has hosted career fairs for several years, employers look forward to attending each time.

Not only does the Career Center maintain contact with employers to invite them to future fairs, companies independently reach out to them, hoping for student recruitment. 

Additionally, Handshake creates an easy route to bring in dozens of employers. 

“With Handshake, we are able to expand our distribution list to hundreds of employers throughout the region,” commented Bennett. 

Apart from company and faculty enjoyment, students are eager to participate in an event that pushes them even closer to success. 

“It was very engaging and showed me the many paths that I can endure through my career,” said Zelano. 

As an administrator constantly encouraging and creating the success of her students, Gallo noted her sense of admiration towards the event as well.

“I was really impressed with the engagement of our student body. I also can say that students made some wonderful connections,” she said.

This semester’s fair introduced some new faces. First-time attendee and sophomore psychology major Caroline Smith disclosed that although she was nervous, the event turned out to be an exciting and impressive experience.

“I was overwhelmed at first by all the tables, but I realized everyone was super approachable and were excited to talk about their companies and careers,” she said. “I learned a lot about my potential career in behavioral sciences and overall I think it was a great experience.”

The Career Center is continuously hosting events to build the professional futures of students. Each Fairfield University school–College of Arts and Sciences, Dolan School of Business, Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies and School of Engineering–has its own center to focus on the closer details of individual and professional goals.
To learn more about future events or to get in contact with a career counselor, reach out to 203-254-4081 or careers@fairfield.edu.

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