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Plenty of students, less companies at career fair

BY MICHELE DANNO | FEBRUARY 27, 2009 7:30 AM

With graduation approaching, UI senior Ashley Danielson had applied at a handful of companies, but she didn’t land an interview until Wednesday’s Spring Job and Internship Fair.

“Before the fair, I was getting really nervous because I wasn’t hearing back from companies,” she said. “But after the fair, I felt a lot better about my job search.”

And she wasn’t the only student vying for employment in the unstable job market.

Roughly 1,500 of her peers lined up in the IMU on Wednesday, dressed in business attire, carrying résumés, sporting name tags, and donning nervous smiles. They anxiously waited to file into the room filled with colorful display boards, balloons, and hundreds of potential employers.

The annual fair is sponsored by the Pomerantz Career Center.

Angi McKie, the Pomerantz Center director of marketing and public relations, said 110 companies set up shop in the IMU Main Ballroom to meet with students about opportunities the business could provide.

The fair was slightly less crowded than the one in the fall, McKie said, which had more than 130 companies. She doesn’t necessarily blame the poor state of the job market for this, though.

“Our career fairs vary from semester to semester,” she said. “But still having more than 100 organizations in one room is just a fantastic opportunity for students.”

Danielson agreed the economy isn’t keeping businesses away from the fair.

“There are still companies out there that are doing well and still looking to hire, so I’m glad for that,” she said and noted that she has an upcoming interview with Wells Fargo, a company she visited at the fair.

Alan Moorhead, a recruiter from HNI Corp. in Muscatine, said he thinks students might find increased competition at career fairs now.

“We noticed that there were fewer companies than in previous fairs,” he said. “We also noticed more students were in attendance.”

The average number of students in the fairs is between 1,300 and 1,600, McKie said.

Jane Schildroth, the senior director of corporate and community relations at the Pomerantz Career Center, said the UI’s upbeat students keep companies coming back each year, despite the economy.
“There were fewer employers at the fair, but it wasn’t a huge drop-off,” she said.

Companies may not send representatives to the fairs because of high travel costs, she said.

“I also hear companies say they are being cautious, which might mean they are delaying hiring until they know what will happen with the economy,” she said. “Other companies are saying they still have jobs, maybe not the same number of jobs, but they still need to continue.”

Scott Carlson, a recruiter from Command Transportation in Skokie, Ill., offered an encouraging word for nervous graduating seniors.

His company is growing very quickly, he said, and it is looking to hire students right out of college.
“We came to the Iowa fair last fall and hired one student,” he said. “I think it takes a few semesters to really get your presence on campus, and Wednesday was great.”

Carlson received roughly 55 résumés.

“But I would love to have gotten more,” he said. “I would love to meet more and more Iowa students.”


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