Government and Law Career Fair offers new opportunities

Students attending the Government and Law School Career Fair on April 6 can expect to discover a plethora of career opportunities, including 88 federal, state and city agencies and 12 law schools.

The Government and Law School Career Fair differs from the University-sanctioned All Majors Career Fair in that government agencies are in need of workers from a variety of educational backgrounds, Bertus Ferreira, criminal justice professor and organizer of the Government and Law School Career Fair, said.

The fair is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 6 in the Curris Center Ballroom.

Ferreira

Ferreira

Ferreira said the All Majors Career Fair underrepresents a large portion of the student population and he hopes to offset some of that imbalance with the Government and Law School Career Fair.

“I can’t fix everybody’s lives,” he said. “But here I have a massive solution to part of the problem.”

Ferreira volunteered to bring more federal agencies to the All Majors Career Fair last semester. When he was turned down because of lack of space at the fair, he decided to make his own.

With no outside help, Ferreira organized the Government and Law School Career Fair in hopes of showing students just how many opportunities there are for students of all majors in the government.

Students, such as Desiree Isaac, senior political science and public relations double major from Topmost, Ky., see more specific career fairs such as the Government and Law School Career fair as a solution to the problem of underrepresentation in the All Majors Career Fair.

“While the all majors fair is helpful, the Government and Law School Career Fair offers a wide variety of options for students in specific studies that are sometimes not heavily focused on in the general career fair,” Isaac said.

Joe Caudell, assistant professor of biology, said his past experience working career fairs for a federal agency led him to believe that generalized career fairs, such as the All Majors Career Fair, are not beneficial for most students.

“As an employer, I went to some generalized career fairs,” Caudell said. “I think it was a waste of my time. I might see a handful of students interested in what our agency had to offer.”Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 8.37.23 PM

Caudell said he is excited about the opportunities the Government and Law School Career Fair is giving his students, with recruiters coming from several wildlife agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Careers in wildlife biology are highly competitive, Caudell said. Students are encouraged to accumulate two to three internships over their college careers in order to be competitive after graduation.

“Any contact whatsoever with people in these agencies will be good for the students,” Caudell said.

Ferreira said the demand these government agencies have for students is overwhelming. The FBI is seeking foreign language students. Correctional Facilities and the Military Branches are seeking nurses as well as musicians to play in military bands. Almost all federal agencies are in need of accounting students and computer science students, who often overlook serving their country through government jobs for better-paying corporate jobs.

“I want students to understand that there is an honorable thing in working for the government,” Ferreira said. “You can serve your country working for the government.”

Ferreira said he is impressed by his success in recruiting 88 government agencies and law schools to come to the fair in its first year. He credited his success to actively contacting agencies himself, as well as not charging the $200 a table Career Services does for the All Majors Career Fair.

“Big companies, they don’t care,” Ferreira said. “$200 is pocket change for them. They write it off as a business expense for recruitment. Small police departments, sheriff departments, and corrections agencies don’t have $200 in their budget to pay. That’s why many of them simply won’t come.”

Ferreira also succeeded in recruiting some key political figures to encourage students to serve their country through government jobs. U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield will be speaking at the fair at 11 a.m., he said.

Following this trend, the U.S. State Department will send foreign service officer Mark  Powell to recruit students from all majors for foreign service careers. Powell served as a U.S. Consul General in Leipzig, Germany and worked most recently as Senior Advisor to the Coordinator of the Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications in Washington D.C.

Among the 88 confirmed attendees are the Peace Corps, the Red Cross and the Secret Service, along with the Kentucky and Illinois National Guards, the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard.

Ferreira recruited 12 law schools to come to the fair, compared to the two coming to the All Majors Career Fair.

“You’ve never seen these law schools at Murray State,” Ferreira said.

One of the two law schools attending the All Majors Career Fair is unaccredited by the American Bar Association, which Ferreira described as “a kiss of death.”

Also among the recruiters coming to the fair are the Kentucky State Forensic Laboratories, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Indiana State Police and Missouri Highway Patrol, which are seeking chemistry students to participate in forensic research, Ferreira said.

Ferreira felt that it was his obligation not only to make this opportunity available to the students of Murray State, but also to the surrounding universities and colleges.

He invited 23 universities and colleges, many of which are sending students from hours away to take advantage of what the fair has to offer.

“It is a big deal for the University to serve the community colleges in Kentucky,” Ferreira said.

Anticipating the success of this year Government and Law School Career Fair, Ferreira has already booked dates for more fairs in the next two semesters.

“It is the opportunity of a lifetime for students to have this,” Ferreira said.

Story by Zachary Orr, Staff writer