Fairfield University’s highly anticipated Career and Internship Fair was held on Wednesday, Sept. 26 in the Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Recreation Complex. The fair is notoriously criticized by non-business students on campus for having an imbalance of companies that are mostly targeted to students with majors within the business school. However, contrary to the standard belief of most non-business majors, I found my time at the fair inspiring and limitless.
I am a journalism major, with marketing and communication minors. Luckily, due to the availability in my schedule, I was able to attend the fair and speak with several businesses there, including two insurance companies, The Travelers Companies located in Hartford and Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Fairfield. When I arrived, I, and the other students who attended the fair, received a booklet containing a list of the companies categorized by the ideal majors of students they would potentially hire, and a map of where they were located at the fair. After walking around, examining student name tags that displayed their name, graduation year and major, as well as reading through the booklet of companies, it was easy to conclude that the companies attend the fair to attract the business students at Fairfield University. Being surrounded by business majors is an intimidating atmosphere for any non-business student, and as a non-business student myself, I understand how this dominant business environment and the imbalance of companies offered can be viewed as a limiting aspect of the Career and Internship Fair. But to me, this viewpoint was inaccurate, misleading and it should not deter other non-business majors from attending the Career and Internship Fair.
There was an approximate total of 123 companies at the Career and Internship Fair, and every student-attendee, regardless of major, was provided with the opportunity to speak with the invited representatives from each company present. One might ask, “But how can a non-business major thrive in a dominantly business driven environment?” As a non-business major, I can attest that there are three key approaches to successfully maneuvering through the Career and Internship Fair as a non-business student.
The first concept is the understanding of a fundamental characteristic of job searching: networking. It does not take a business major to know that networking is essential to landing a job, and that it takes practice. One-hundred and twenty-three companies translates to 123 potential conversations. Non-business students have every opportunity to improve their networking skills alongside business students who are also improving their skills. Business students, especially those majoring in the popular fields of accounting and finance, do have an extensive list of companies to choose from and network with at the Career and Internship Fair in comparison to a non-business student. However, this does not mean that non-business majors are left without alternatives.
Students should enter the Career and Internship Fair with the awareness that whether or not the companies that attend the fair are targeted to a particular field of study, students of all majors have the chance of getting their foot in the door through the potential jobs and internships these businesses have to offer. Being aware of this concept is the second approach to tackling this predominantly business major territory. Taking the time to converse with a company that a non-business student deems to be outside of their field will not negatively impact the student. Instead, it will provide the student with the chance to see the potential job opportunities and internships that they did not consider because of the restrictions the student set while focusing solely on his or her non-business major.
Thirdly, experience in any field is job experience. College students do not have the expertise nor prior professional experience to pick and choose which companies they are willing to receive career experience from. Jobs and internships outside of a student’s major can greatly benefit them in the future. At the Career and Internship Fair, I was able to learn about a potential summer internship at Travelers, and make myself known to the company’s human resources representative. I have been a summer temp at Travelers for the past two summers, and I am hoping my prior experiences at the company have prepared me enough to become an intern for the company. Journalism is my passion, but it is not the only field I want to gain professional experience in. Searching for jobs only in the field of journalism would prevent me from becoming aware of the numerous job opportunities in other fields that I could just as much enjoy making a living in throughout my future, and provide me with the professional experience and networking opportunities needed to potentially bring me back to the field of journalism in the future.
Although I was pleased with my time at the Career and Internship Fair this fall, I was not always so prepared. My first and sophomore years I was terrified and extremely unaware of how to approach the Career and Internship Fair. I did not attend the fairs offered those two years, and it was not until this year when I became a Career Peer Advisor – one of a handful of students on campus that assist under and upperclassmen in building their own resumes and provide guidance throughout the internship and employment processes in the Academic and Career Development Center (ACDC) — that I became comfortable with the idea of attending. If a non-business student is unsure where to begin when starting the often overwhelming job search process, there are plenty of beneficial tools on campus that can help prepare for it.
I have found ACDC to be the most underappreciated and rewarding area on the Fairfield University campus. The friendly, knowledgeable individuals that work in ACDC, including the head of the Career Peer Advisors, John Hottinger, make the Career and Internship Fair happen. It was through these useful resources on campus and their talents that I was able to gather information about the potential internships and jobs that the companies at the fair had to offer prior to attending, and learn two valuable points in the days leading up to the Career and Internship Fair. One: the list of companies attending the fair is always available under the Career and Internship Fair event on OrgSync prior to the day of the event, and two: Fairfield University’s version of LinkedIn, called Stags4Hire, is an incredibly underrated and powerful tool when searching for internships and jobs through Fairfield University. All students are able to make appointments to receive guidance from ACDC anytime during the work week, and there are walk-in hours every Monday through Thursday from 1-4 p.m. with the Career Peer Advisors.
My outlook on job searching has significantly grown the past three years at Fairfield. From having no prior knowledge of this process, I have learned the significance of networking, how to become more appreciative of other fields of study and to be open-minded to any new opportunities that come my way. I strongly encourage other non-business majors to take the time to learn these approaches for tackling the job search process, too, because in reality, if a non-business student is not willing to go out of their field to gain experience to strive toward their area of interest in the future, or utilize the resources on campus that are provided to them to help them succeed, then the Career and Internship Fair is not what is limiting the student. The student is limiting him or herself. There may be an imbalance of companies represented at the Career and Internship Fair for non-business students, but there is certainly not an imbalance of benefit and opportunity.