The annual Career & Internship Expo prepares students and alumni to enter the workforce.
Who likes networking? Does anyone love the horribly awkward feeling of walking up to a complete stranger, who could be the key to you getting a job or not, and starting a conversation? Do you, like so many, second-guess every word you say? Every word you didn’t say?
Regardless of your personal feelings towards networking—you could be one of the lucky people who loves showing off your bubbly personality to strangers—it has become a requirement in today’s job market. As is often said, it is no longer about what you know, it is about who you know.
While this statement is only partially correct—after all, you have to know something to start that conversation in the first place—networking is a vital part of looking for a job or internship. Over 400 Rollins students and alumni used their networking skills to talk to 65 potential employers at the annual Career & Internship Expo last Thursday, March 27.
Students and alumni perused the many tables of employers in the Alfond Sports Center, asking about internships and jobs with companies ranging from Universal Studios to the CIA. While some students used this opportunity to network, others were actively seeking jobs for after graduation. “I had a great time, it was really good practice for us to learn how to network,” said student Jen Joki ’14. “I was able to learn about opportunities that I would never have known about otherwise—I was lucky enough to get an interview on the spot!”
Student Nicholas Bowers ’14 agreed about the value of the fair. “Definitely. Anything that gets you out of your comfort zone and puts you in front of potential employers is a meaningful experience.”
While many students enjoyed the fair, others did not think it was as helpful as it could have been. “It’s a great event. I think it should continue to happen every year,” said Armando Santin ’16. “That being said, my main criticism is that if you’re not majoring in business or marketing, the event doesn’t have much to offer you.”
Rollins has participated in planning a Career and Internship Expo for many years. Rollins Career Services department used to participate in an annual large-scale expo with ten other private colleges in downtown Orlando. In 2005, Rollins chose to create a more intimate experience on campus, bringing the employers to the students.
Director of Career Services Ray Rogers was thrilled with the turnout this year. “Anytime we are over 400 [in attendance], we are very happy with that number.” Students and alumni have come to realize that this expo is the “one place where you are going to find 65 employers under one roof interested in Rollins. Whether students are looking for an internship, a part-time job, a full-time position, or just a safe place to practice networking or learn about different industries, the expo provides a great opportunity.”
This year, Career Services planned a few additional components to entice students to come: in addition to talking to the multitude of employers, students were able to take a professional LinkedIn profile photo taken by Rollins photographer Scott Cook. A highly sought after activity, over 100 people were photographed, with some students waiting in line for this photo for a large part of the three hour expo. “Waiting in line for 45 minutes might have seemed unnecessary,” said Jaime Saure ’14, “but I’m glad that I knew the photographer. He made sure every person was happy with their shots.”
This booth was sponsored by the Rollins Alumni Career Network for the past two years. The photos will be made available to students via a private Flickr album by April 11. Director of the Alumni Career Network Cat McConnell Hackenberg ’07-‘09MBA notes the importance of this service. “Professional headshots can cost several hundred dollars, and in less than two minutes per student/alum, Scott was able to make [students] feel comfortable, look natural, and allow them the ability to choose the shots that best represent their professional brand.”
“We want to make sure students know what a valuable tool LinkedIn can be for exploring careers and connecting with alumni,” said Hackenberg. “We encourage everyone, even as students, to join the Rollins College Alumni Group.”
In addition to the profile photo, the first 25 students and alumni to arrive received a $10 Panera gift card. All participants entered to win two free tickets to Universal Orlando, and everyone walked away with a business card book to hold all of the cards students picked up from various employers.
All students, including those who did not attend the expo, also had the opportunity to submit their resume to various Resume Books that were provided to all of the potential employers after the event as another way to try to win employer’s over.
Just because this year’s expo is over does not mean that networking or the job and internship search have ended—for many they have just begun. “It is important to proactively follow-up,” said Rogers. Students “need to be assertive.” He recommended that students send a thank-you email to employers they spoke with, thanking them for their time, reconfirming their interest in the position, and possibly attaching a copy of their resume. The students that follow-up are often more likely to be contacted by the company.
Career Services held many workshops specifically to prepare students to attend the expo, and they will continue to hold multiple workshops a week on resume writing, interviewing, internships, and LinkedIn networking.
Those workshops as well as the questions table at the expo helped continue to prepare students for the job search, leaving a favorable impression with companies. “Many employers mentioned how impressed they were with how prepared our students were,” said Rogers. “Our students are always a cut above, and this year they were particularly impressive. I’ve been here twenty years, and this was the best career fair we’ve ever had.”
Do you think the career expo was a helpful experience?
It’s a great event. I think it should continue to happen every year. That being said, my main criticism is that if you’re not majoring in business or marketing, the event doesn’t have much to offer you. – Armando Santin ‘16
Definitely. Anything that gets you out of your comfort zone and puts you in front of potential employers is a meaningful experience. – Nicholas Bowers ‘14
It wasn’t really that helpful because when I went for the first time I went in with an impression that I was going to walk out with a job, but that’s not what career fairs are for. They actually come to market their own company, for example, Schwab, CIA, FBI etc. I’ve never heard anyone getting a job from them via career fair. – Sneh Patel, ‘14