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Student Org Expo reverses traditional career fair roles

By Eliza Sneeden

Contributing Writer

On Friday, UNH students were spotted filing into the Granite State Room in the MUB wearing blazers, ties and sensible shoes. Although this isn’t a rare sight here at UNH, given the amount of career and internship fairs that UNH hosts, this event was different. At the Fall 2015 Student Organization Expo, the tables were turned.

Raina Sarvaiya, employer relations specialist at the career center, and Nate Hastings, coordinator of student organizations and leadership, worked as a team to pull off the first of what is hoped to be many Student Org Expos. Sarvaiya noted the amount of requests she had received from both students and employers for an event that fosters closer contact and interaction between student organizations and employers.

“We thought, ‘Why not have a reverse career fair where student orgs can hold down tables and employers can walk around to create partnerships?’” said Sarvaiya. “So, it’s not just a recruiting focus, like for internships. It’s actual partnerships for the entire organization over a lifetime.”

The students weren’t thrown into the mix unprepared. Hastings and Sarvaiya made sure of that. Planning for this event extends back into August and September, when Hastings held meetings and sent out invitations to a diverse selection of student organizations.

“What you see here represents the orgs that were invited and that could make the mandatory training we did last Friday because we didn’t want to just throw students to the wind,” said Hastings.

Sarvaiya led the training, making sure the students knew how to interact with employers. “The important part of this event is fully prepping and training our student orgs because student orgs haven’t really been on the other side of the table,” she said.

The mandatory training consisted of an hour-long presentation that instructed the students on how to dress, what to do, what to say, and what to expect. They learned important tips such as sitting in front of the table rather than behind it and to engage all employers in order to not miss out on any potential opportunities.

Samantha Sheldon, a senior accounting and management major and an active brother of UNH’s co-ed community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega (or APO), felt confident before heading into the expo. APO, a nationally recognized fraternity, logs around 20 hours of community service per semester.

Sheldon wanted to show the employers what APO is all about.

“A lot of the companies nowadays I feel are focused on corp. social responsibility and community service, so if they can already find people to connect with that are involved in that on campus and then bring those people into their workforce, I think that’s what they’re looking for.”

Will McKernan, a first year accounting graduate student and the chairperson for the Memorial Union Board of Governors, thought the event was going really well. He credited the training of what to expect and what was going to be expected of them. “It was really, really helpful in preparation for it,” he said.

“We wanted to trial this event on a little bit of a smaller scale to see how it does at the end of this fall semester, in hopes to make it larger this spring and even next year,” said Sarvaiya. UNH can expect many more student organization expos to pop up in the coming years.

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