by Sarah Small
Krista Johnson, an alumna of ILLINOIS spent a recent afternoon on the University’s campus. It wasn’t for a football game or visit with college friends, it was for the College of Business Career Fair where Johnson, a representative for her company, Baxter, connected with current students in search of the perfect candidates to join the long line of ILLINOIS graduates at her company.
“U of I is one of our core schools and it has been for a number of years,” Johnson said. “We like to recruit from here because it’s the top.”
She said Baxter has had success with ILLINOIS graduates for many years and sends representatives to the career fair to build upon that success.
The fair ran September 14 and 15, and, split over the two days, 190 companies were represented. Many of the companies that attended the career fair have strong ties to ILLINOIS and an estimated 75 percent of the 800 recruiters wore blue ribbons on which the word “alumni” was printed, said Rebecca Goben, assistant director of the College’s Business Career Services.
Over the course of the fair, more than 3,200 students attended and forged first connections with companies that could ultimately lead to internships or full-time jobs.
“We want employers that have opportunities our students would be interested in,” said Annetta Culver, senior director of the career center.
In the weeks leading up to the fair, the career services center was filled with students attending resume critique sessions and mock interviews, all eager to make their best first impressions at the career fair.
“It’s really amazing that from the beginning of their time here, they’re already understanding: ‘I’m here to get an education so that I can contribute to society, and that contribution will most likely come from my company,'” Culver said.
Like Johnson from Baxter, Kathleen Holly an alumna and representative for Medix also said the reason her company chooses to attend the career fair each year is because of the continued success it has with ILLINOIS graduates.
“(The students) have a good attitude and work ethic,” Holly said. “They fit well with our organization.”
As a recruiter, she said she attends many career fairs throughout the year, and many fall short in comparison to the College of Business’ career fair.
“I like the career fair,” she said. “It’s always really well organized and the students are very well-presented and prepared.”
Ashley Fearday, who graduated with her undergraduate degree in 2008 and her master’s degree in 2010, was at the fair representing the Champaign branch of the American Cancer Society.
She said the organization wanted to attend the career fair because of its proximity to the University and its plethora of young graduates.
As a recent graduate, she said she had attended the career fair many times as a student, but the 2010 fair was her first experience as a representative.
“It’s a lot different to be on the other side of the table,” Fearday said. “It’s not nearly as hectic or stressful.”
Having such a high percentage of alumni representatives at the fair is beneficial to both the students and the employers, Goben said. She said alumni typically volunteer to represent their companies at the fair, eager for the opportunity to return to campus. For the students, seeing the alumni at the fair gives them the confidence of knowing they are a part of a large professional network.
“It helps them understand that they’re part of this huge family,” Culver said. “They know, ‘This is someone who, if they can, will help me.'”
The following companies attended the career fair for the first time:
DAY (1) Fall 2010 DAY (2) Fall 2010
Express Scripts, Inc. American Cancer Society
International Casings Group Inc. Corbett Duncan & Hubly PC
Morpheus Media Farmers Insurance Group
Mueller & Company, LLP Graybar Electric
Prairie Management & Development Inc. PROS Revenue Management
Travelers (last fair was winter ’07) U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services
Onboard Media Union Pacific Railroad