Put ‘careers’ back into career fairs
One of the main reasons students attend a university is to find a job.
In 2012, 87.9 percent of incoming university freshmen were motivated by economic conditions.
One of the ways UH and other universities across the nation provide employment opportunities is through career fairs.
In Houston, and on campus, there are over eight career fairs that happen every year, and I always thought that the purpose of a career fair was to find a job.
To an extent, pre-business junior Hoc Nguyen disagrees.
“Career fairs aren’t exactly meant to employ, but rather, help a student build his or her network.” Hoc said. “(It’s) a chance for them to meet companies, establish contacts and learn about the companies. A student getting employed as a result from the career fair would probably be the student’s goal, but there’s no guarantee.”
In other words, career fairs give students the chance to experience professional life in a somewhat low-pressure environment and network. These benefits are apparent, especially to underclassmen and students who want to explore their options.
Are career fairs truly worth it if most companies don’t hire candidates they meet?
Some wonder if career fairs are a thing of the past. Business Insider disagrees, but I am not so sure when reality greatly differs from the ideal.
Ideally, students who meet the requirements of the recruiters for a company would be invited to an interview later.
But in reality, the massive number of applicants vastly outnumbers the number jobs actually offered at career fairs. One recruiter mentioned that she literally received thousands of emails after a career fair and consequently stopped handing out her business cards at fairs.
According to Forbes, Katharine Brooks, director of Liberal Arts Career Services at The University of Texas at Austin, believes career fairs are still relevant.
“(But) sometimes companies send a representative just to have a presence at the event, even if they don’t have jobs,” Brooks said.
“While they think they are building their company recognition, they are actually detracting from the experience and creating a bad impression on the job seekers.”
Some employers and recruiters simply instruct candidates to go online and apply as if they’d never even been to the career fair at all. This is sending the wrong message to the next generation of employees.
“At the very least, they should have a wider variety of career options present so that students can find careers that they never thought about,” said pre-med sophomore Syed-Mohammad Raza.
Perhaps my standards have changed after I learned about SASE (Society of Asian Scientists & Engineers). This society is open to all students, and they will host a national career fair from Oct. 8 to 10.
They will offer one particularly unique element at their fair: hiring on the spot.
Employers will meet candidates from across the country, inviting certain individuals to interview the same day. After the interview, candidates may be offered a position at the company on the spot.
While I realize the job market for various industries are different, encouraging companies to engage in this process will draw out the best candidates.
Assistant opinion editor Sarah Kim is a political science major senior and may be reached at [email protected]