By Jenna Brophy
Early Friday mornings on campus usually mean sweatpants and T-shirts for students as they make their way to classes, breakfast or the library. But on Friday, Oct. 3, students dressed in their business best and headed over to the annual Fall Opportunities Fair in the basement of the Student Recreation Center, where job and networking opportunities abounded.
The area had been transformed from an athletic space to an exposition, with more than 150 organizations and businesses setting up tables to talk to students about their opportunities for the future. Handshakes and smiles were exchanged as résumés were passed from student to recruiter, and there was not an unfriendly face in the room as the Rec Center buzzed with the chatter of students and their potential future employers.
Beginning promptly at 11 a.m., students were able to sign into the Opportunities Fair and receive a booklet describing each employer present and its respective opportunities. Whether it was a full-time position or an internship, or even if it was simply relevant to a student’s particular major, it wasn’t difficult to find an eager employer in the sea of tables.
No matter what a student’s interests were, companies gave students a broad spectrum of available internships during their college years as well as post-graduation. Businesses ranged from Target and Burlington Coat Factory to Morgan Stanley and everything in between. The FBI and various state police departments were in attendance as well, as were the Armed Forces.
Businesses were not the only ones that attended the Opportunities Fair — graduate schools had booths, as well, talking with students about furthering their education with opportunities in law or medical school.
Students on campus left the Fair with nothing but good prospects and motivation. Junior management major Nick Samra attended the Fair for the first time and was excited to talk to the companies present.
“They have really good companies here, and if you do your research on a few of them, it gives you the opportunity to find the job or internship you’re looking for.” Samra said.
Junior mathematics major Rachel MacGrath was more apprehensive about her first visit to the Opportunities Fair.
“I’ve never been to something like this before, but I think it’s a great place to learn about things and talk to people,” she said.
Companies were active prior to the Fair, too. CIT, a commercial lending and leasing organization that finances middle-tier business companies, gave a preparation session prior to the Opportunities Fair in order to help students feel more comfortable discussing future employment possibilities. The information session, which occurred on Monday, Sept. 29, featured alumni representatives from the company, giving the room a sense of community and comfort where students could both learn and ask questions.
A brief PowerPoint presentation was given to explain the functions and practices of CIT, followed by a description of their Financial Development Program, in which students from select colleges are chosen for internships at CIT that later turn into careers. The session then moved on to tips and tricks for the career fair. Students learned both what to do and what not to do to make themselves seem marketable to employers. The CIT staff encouraged students to familiarize themselves with five to 10 companies that they were interested in and deliver copies of their résumés to those employers with whom they felt potential.
Perhaps the most nerve-wracking part of CIT’s preparation session was when students were asked to create a personalized, 30-second elevator speech. By tailoring their first-impression strategies, students could network with each other as a way to practice before the Opportunities Fair.
Sweaty palms held shaky pens as the students jotted brief notes about what they would say about themselves, but as soon as they began to mingle with each other, their nerves were put at ease. The CIT employees were friendly and encouraging as they walked around and listened in on the student’s conversations, offering advice on how to make their speeches even better.
“Talking with representatives from businesses and universities helped me feel bright and confident about the future ahead,” junior psychology major Andrew Edelblum said about this week’s career events. “I’m super pumped to get started sorting through all the business cards and application URLs I received last Friday.”