By Olivia Lewis, For The Miami Student
In a sea of black and white corporate finery, Career Fair is a lot like stumbling onto Wall Street, that is, if Wall Street was made up of impassioned, high-powered youth rather than 50-something big wigs.
The click clack of patent leather heels and wing-tipped oxfords emanates throughout Millett Hall as students flood inside, their expressions ranging from unflappable to apprehensive. They pass by a variety of kiosks, settling by the ones that seem to fit them most. Firm handshakes are exchanged and the daunting process of nabbing a job after college begins.
Miami University seniors David Perkins, Zach LeCompte and Luke Jones are but three attendees at the event. Together, they brave the masses, doing their best to strike favor from recruiters with each of their distinctly different skills.
For Perkins, the journey of obtaining a job position for after graduation began long before the date of this year’s Career Fair. As a double major in marketing and interactive media studies, he prepped himself by running his resume by the people around him and engaging in workshops offered by the Career Services. The result was a student who felt ultra prepared.
“I’d say that the most successful part of Career Fair was the fact that I already researched where the companies I wanted to visit were, so I just bee-lined my way by,” Perkins says.
On the other hand, Jones, who’s majoring in history, did all of his preparation in a class during summer term. Known as Miami Professional Institute for Management Education (PRIME), the four-week program was designed to acquaint non-business majors like himself to the meat-and-potatoes of the business world.
“Oh god, yeah, it was helpful,” Jones says. “I thought I was just going to stay in school until somebody told me, ‘Luke, it’s time to come out,’ but now I think I’m going to go into business because it’s very interesting stuff. It showed us how to make the non-Farmer kid look like a Farmer kid.”
But, as valuable as PRIME was for showing Jones a different side of himself, he describes feeling anxious about securing a job position with a history degree.
“There’s always that stigma that if you’re not getting a business degree, then you’re not going anywhere,” Jones says. “You’re always told to either get a business degree or an engineering degree. I’m sure it’s pretty true in reality, I just hope that they have some scraps to throw.”
LeCompte, who is majoring in sports management, experienced similar worries. This was his second time attending Career Fair, so he wasn’t surprised when there weren’t many companies geared toward his exact field of study.
“I guess I was little nervous about going around, especially since it’s now senior year and the pressure has turned up to find a job,” LeCompte says. “Everyone, including family, are now asking what I’m doing next year, so I’m trying to at least have something to tell them.”
With a little persistence, he succeeds in finding the Cleveland Indians and Columbus Blue Jackets and plans to meet with both of them again next spring.
“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated with baseball and the inner workings of it, like trading players, acquisitions, baseball drafts and international signings,” LeCompte says. “I’ve just always followed it all closely and it’s always been a hobby of mine.”
While LeCompte navigates the chaos for potential employers, endless chatter now greets Perkins’ ears as he saunters past clusters of students. He dons a dark suit, a Christmas gift, he explains, and, though it’s the expected attire, it’s accompanied by an underlying gleam of confidence.
“I’ve been going to these Career Fairs every semester for at least three years, so I feel pretty comfortable with it,” Perkins says. “Once you go in there, there’s always those little pre-show jitters for a little bit, but after the first one or two places that I talk to, my nerves [calm] down and it gets better.”
As the sun sets, the milling crowds at Career Fair begin to dissipate, their suited forms lighter now due to the trail of resumes left in their wake. Recruiters manning a variety of kiosks scoop up the piles of leftover complimentary stickers and pens, while others hasten to whisk away the vibrant, motivationally worded displays that represented their company all afternoon.
It’s a hectic picture, but one that offers a bounty of benefits for those who put in the time.
“Research the companies that you want to talk to,” Perkins says. “That way, when you walk up and start talking to them, you know what they’re going to talk about and what they need from you. Then, you can better initiate that conversation.”