Job fair overcast by anxiety, frustration

From lower-division students passing through to their next class to graduating seniors eager to find work, yesterday’s Job Fair connected students to 73 hiring companies.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in recent years,” said Career Center Director Cheryl Allmen-Vinnedge, in response to what she says is a 38 percent increase in employer turnout at the fair. “I’m excited.”

In addition to this increase, Allmen-Vinnedge said an even larger growth — 59 percent — is visible in the number of jobs on SpartaJobs, the virtual listing the center manages.

Despite this growth in hiring employers, the Career Center faced budget cuts, and held the fair in the Student Union instead of its usual place, The Event Center.

“We’re limited to building capacity,” Allmen-Vinnedge said. “We didn’t expect it to be like this.”

Caught in a line that snaked through the hallways of the upstairs ballrooms, graduating senior Hitesh Oberoi is itching to find tech work. As a software engineering major specializing in networking, he said he hopes to land a job with a high-tech company.

“I hope I’ll get a job,” he said a few minutes before entering the room where tech companies Synaptics and Aruba Networks were set up.

Oberoi said he waited an hour to get through two lines before getting to where he was.

“What’s the point of having a job fair?” he asked. “(The employers) just say go online to apply.”

Jessica Bothwell Keay, a recruiter for translations.com, a language services provider, said that that feeling is just a myth.

“We’re hiring for our San Francisco office,” she said. “I’m going to personally pitch the resumes I get today to our departments.”

Allmen-Vinnedge said that though some students may doubt the importance of these fairs, the employers do track applicants.

“They want to hear stories about relevant internships, related work experience, and applicable skills — they love to hear good stories,” she said. “We encourage developing relationships with potential employers.”

Theresa Nino, regional manager for First Investors Corporation, noted that her company had seen several students fitting the scope of their open positions. She said one key thing that impresses her is the “opening line” — a pitch that says who you are and what you want to do.

“Approach us as if you’re already a first-round candidate,” she said.

Nino said she saw several people approach her table asking the wrong questions about what her company does, wearing the wrong attire and simply not cutting it.

Alex Patel, a sophomore marketing and decision sciences major, said that she was told that employers were all looking for people with more experience. Despite this, she persisted to try to find the one internship that would take her.

“I just want to know that marketing is right for me,” she said. “I want to get experience without having experience.”

The fair was also host to non-profits such as JusticeCorps, an AmeriCorps subsidiary focusing on law that hires students.

“It was my first job fair today,” said political science junior Aaron Martinez, who said he would apply to JusticeCorps. “I really hope I get this job.”

A common thread of employers’ desires is the search for the “unique” skill of merging both people skills from the “sales” world to the technical skills of the industry-rich “working world.”

One such employer, Baytech Interactive Web Solutions, said they were looking for a systems engineer that had people skills — something they said is hard to find.

Baytech employee Amanda Hsueh found frustration similar to Nino’s, in unprepared students.

“Do a little research on the companies that are coming,” she said. “We’re all looking for that right student.”

Allmen-Vinnedge said the center’s focus is to get students ready for the working world. From review sessions developing resumes, to lectures on wearing appropriate attire to events to strengthen networking skills, they host over 100 workshops and three to five career fairs like this one a year.

“We want to get everyone a job,” she said.