With the declining economy and Florida’s notoriously high unemployment rate, this year’s fall USF Career Networking Fair focused on networking and not necessarily employment.
“Networking, targeting employers, and making connections with employers is what this fair is about,” said USF Career Center adviser Terry Dowling.
The career fair featured approximately 80 different companies during Wednesday’s all majors accepted fair and 44 during Thursday’s fair, which was specifically for accounting, science, technical and engineering majors.
Organizers said that the number of employers on campus for the event did not rise appreciably this year.
Isaac Taylor, a graduate student studying computer science, noticed this year’s focus on networking and said it’s just another task to which seniors must commit.
“I went to this fair with a list of companies in mind that I wanted to apply and hopefully get a job from,” Taylor said. “But when I talked to the companies, I felt the pressure more on myself to make a personal connection with them instead of just submitting my application online.”
Taylor said many of the companies handed out business cards and pamphlets that were about the company image instead of application-related information.
“It seemed like many companies told me to check back with them next semester to see if more job openings were available,” Taylor said.
Claire Stephens, an employee and representative of ConnectWise, focused on making student connections during the fair.
“I’m an IT support employee at the company and am here to help students make a connection with ConnectWise instead of just handing out applications,” Stephens said. “I want to make sure students know and appreciate the company before they apply.”
According to the ConnectWise website, “ConnectWise is a leading provider of IT services to companies in the Tampa market and the publisher of the industry’s most widely-used business operating system.”
The difference this fall with the career fair, Dowling said, is that many students are realizing the job market is declining and becoming more competitive. No longer can they easily rely on their degree for a job. Thus, the focus of this year’s career fair is no longer getting employment but making connections.
Dowling advised students to make connections outside of Tampa Bay to better secure future employment.
“It might be a good idea to expand the scope of one’s search to go beyond the Bay area and to even consider other regions of the nation,” Dowling said. “Treat this fair as a way to start and continue your networking and targeting of employers.”