Career Fair dedicates day to STEM students, employers

Story by Bailey Bohannan, Staff writer

The Career Fair connects employers looking for students and students looking for employers, but this year, the Career Fair was stretched across two days and the first day was specifically for STEM students and employers.

On the Curris Center third floor, 49 employers set up tables and booths March 1 for the Spring 2016 STEM Health Career Fair. March 2, the third floor was flooded with over 65 employers at the Spring 2016 All Majors Career Fair.

Ray Karraker, Career Services Specialist who helped organize the fair this year, said this two-day career fair divide was extremely necessary because the fair was outgrowing the third floor of the Curris Center. Starting last fall, Karraker said they began to break down the Career Fair into two days.

“It was getting to be a logistic nightmare because we were getting to the point that we were simply running out of room on the Curris Center third floor,” Karraker said.

Karraker said he did not want to divide the fair by the second and third floor of the Curris Center and began looking for other ideas. At this time, Karraker said, members of the STEM departments approached him and asked for a STEM-specialized day at the career fair. It showed great results and because of its success, Career Services is looking into expanding the division and specialization even more in the future.

“Now, this is early on, but we can see where the All Major will perhaps even be divided into three so that we can look more at specific areas to the greater degree,” Karraker said.

Two Occupational Safety and Health majors who participated in the STEM Career Fair were very pleased with the specialization of days.

Tanner Neese, senior from Greenville, Illinois, attended the fair on March 1 to collect business cards and speak with future employers.

“I come to this Career Fair because I believe that our program is one of the best in the nation and we have the best companies that come here to recruit us,” Neese said. “It is worth my time and effort to come here and work my hardest in my department in order to achieve this.”

Another student, Kaitlin Budnick, graduate student from St. Louis, said she comes to the Career Fair each year and she usually spends almost two hours trying to speak to all the employers. This year, she went to the STEM Career Fair, and only had to stay for approximately 30 minutes because of the specialization of the day and because she said she knew what industry she was looking for.

“This is the first year safety has really been involved in this Career Fair and so it’s nice to have more companies focused towards safety,” Budnick said. “The general Career Fair has a lot of people there looking for a lot of different majors, so it’s nice to go to one that’s specifically looking for us.”

Although Budnick said she was looking for very specific companies, she said she would be taking advantage of the second day of the Career Fair, too.

“One of the reasons we go with two consecutive days with STEM and with All Major is the fact that just because a company is classified as a STEM company – they need engineers, they need scientists, they need mathematicians – just because they need those, that’s not the only thing they might need,” Karraker said.

Karraker said he encourages all students to take advantage of the Career Fairs, no matter their major.

“Just because they’re an XYZ major, that doesn’t mean that they will be eliminated because a lot of employers list ‘All Majors,’” Karraker said. “We want to do whatever we can in order to give our students whatever opportunity to look at employers.”