Career/Internship Fair draws increased attention in a struggling economy
Three local TV networks sent teams to join the job seekers and employers looking to connect at this year’s Career/Internship Fair. The extensive media coverage was a first for the event, and unusual for any event that is offered annually.
The cameras were there for a reason: the networks were hungry for any cause for optimism that might offset the onslaught of bad news coming out of the struggling economy.
In fact, the fair was buzzing, drawing a healthy mix of recruiters and career hopefuls.
“I can only speak for WFRV-TV, but certainly our interest in the job fair had to do with the state of the current job market,” said WFRV-TV Channel 5 executive producer Carmelyn Daley. “We have a responsibility to cover what’s going on in the economy and the job market, and many times, that reporting has to deal with job cuts and downsizing.”
This event, however, gave the network the chance to “find the positives that still exist in this economic climate. We also wanted to show viewers what types of companies are still making an effort to recruit employees,” Daley added.
Almost 200 St. Norbert students and alumni attended the March 3 event. “It’s the most we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said
Jerry Donahue (Career Services).
While the total of 56 companies represented was down from last year’s 62, Donahue said, “We did better than we thought we would in terms of the economy. We want companies to come that actually have jobs available. We’d love to have more employers if we can get them, but, yeah, it’s tough.”
Interestingly, this year’s roster included a greater number of non-profit agencies than in the past – about 20 percent of the total exhibitors, Donahue estimates. When business is booming, non-profits often have a hard time competing for the young workforce. “They realize that when the private sector is down, students may be looking.”
This year saw the first time a government agency – the Social Security Administration – was represented at the fair. “They usually don’t need to advertise,” Donahue says. “But they’ve got to start finding young people to fill positions.” As Baby Boomers approach retirement age, it is predicted that the workforce will lose qualified professionals in greater numbers than those entering employment.
Marc Evans, manager of the Green Bay office of Wells Fargo, said his company has attended the fair since its inception.
“We feel it is a great opportunity to meet the students and get a feel for each individual, see where their interests lie and find a place for some of them in our company,” said Evans, adding that Wells Fargo has hired St. Norbert grads in the past.
For both job seekers and corporate recruiters, the fair provides a networking experience that may lead to job placement.
“It’s a down market, but it’s not as bad as you think,” said Donahue.