By Hadley Barndollar, Staff Writer
On Tuesday afternoon, Wildcats traded in cozy, winter class attire for blazers and ties as the Whittemore Center became a taste of the professional world for four hours.
It was the University of New Hampshire’s semi-annual Career Fair open to all majors and colleges. Organized by the UNH Career Center, records of attendance and employer registration were shattered, showing that students were hungry for jobs and companies were answering the calls for work.
There were 182 employers present, ranging from engineering firms to a winery and the Boston Celtics. There were almost 50 more employers than the last fair.
“We haven’t had any employer no-shows,” said Krystal Hicks, associate director of career support and employer outreach. “It’s exceeding expectations.”
UNH’s Career Center sports only six full-time staff members, but according to Hicks, “They get the job done.”
“There’s nothing better than 20 minutes into the fair, a student runs up and says ‘I got an interview,’” Hicks said. “We plan for so many months for this very day.”
Hicks referenced that employers were looking to fill almost 500 opportunities, including both jobs and internships.
Many students walked around with pre-printed resumes and their own business cards to hand out to prospective companies.
“I’m always happy with the students that come and you can tell they prepared. They know who they’re talking to, they know what they want,” Hicks said. “If you don’t prepare, it is impossible for me to tell you how much you’re missing out.”
As for student attendance numbers, by 1 p.m., only one hour into the event, over 700 students had already checked in. The estimated grand total for the day was 1346 students. Last fall’s fair attendance was 1290. The Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics was the dominating presence, with 420 students representing the school. The college of engineering and physical sciences took second with 402, and the college of liberal arts and the college of life sciences and agriculture took third and fourth with 251 and 135, respectively.
Senior business major Taylor Ryan hopes to pursue a career in sports marketing, but felt that the fair was an opportunity to gain more knowledge about companies she hadn’t been introduced to before.
“My experience at the fair was really positive,” Ryan said. “I was nervous at first but with so many friendly people, it made it easy to approach companies and trade information.”
As far as specific businesses that caught Ryan’s attention, she found herself leaning towards companies that actively pursued her while walking around the fair.
“I really liked Direct Capital [a company that lends money to small businesses]. It seemed like a good fit.”
Sophomore communications major Ben Nawn expressed his dismay towards the heavy business and engineering nature of the fair.
“What about liberal arts students who don’t want to go into sales or marketing?” Nawn said. “English students? Criminal justice? This is a diverse school.”
Nawn felt there were ways the fair could improve for the future.
“I would just like to have seen a little more that could benefit [more people] than just business majors and engineers. It’s discouraging,” Nawn said. “On the flip side, it was still beneficial to talk to people.”
Ted Gettinger, a senior recreation management policy major, felt his career path was under-represented, but he expected it.
“For this particular job fair, there were only two places that fit for my major: a country club and New Hampshire Parks and Rec,” Gettinger said. “I was looking for the business aspect in [the fair] too, because I’m also a business minor, as many [recreation management policy] kids are. It was a good opportunity to practice those business-related skills in a career fair environment.”
While liberal arts majors may have found the pickings to be slim, the Career Center emphasizes that they do their best to reach out to companies that offer multiple types of positions, for majors running the full gamut. For example, an insurance company may offer positions in social media or copyediting.
While job offers on the spot are a rare, yet thrilling occasion. Hicks affirmed that the main objective for students at career fairs should be networking, making contacts, following up and putting your resume into the hands of a professional in your field.
“A conversation today can turn into a job tomorrow,” Hicks said.