Job fairs bring optimism at Tech
BLACKSBURG – Hundreds of Virginia Tech students were able to connect with employers during the 30th annual Business Horizons job fair on Tech’s campus last week.
The event, which brought more than 160 companies and about 2,500 students together, was catered toward students in Tech’s Pamplin school of business. It was one of several job fairs on campus in recent days, including a Monday fair for computer science majors with about 80 employers and a Tuesday fair for engineering majors that hosted more than 250 companies.
Stuart Mease, the director of undergraduate career services for Pamplin, said there was so much interest from potential employers that for the first time ever there are plans in the works for a spring job fair as well. Mease said this year’s Business Horizons was the largest ever.
Companies large and small gathered in Squires Student Center to mingle with students, take resumes and questions and hand out promotional items like pens, folders, and, in some cases snacks.
“I’m amazed,” said Raman Kumar, a professor of investment management who was checking on some of his students during the fair. He said he believes the quality of his students is part of what attracts employers.
“We are helping prepare students for jobs and bringing in employers,” Kumar said.
Mease, who began coordinating the fair last April, said each company paid about $675 for a booth.
Mease noted that not only is the fair beneficial for student job-seekers, but recruiters can bring big bucks to Blacksburg. Each company brings between two and five recruiters, who all need hotel rooms, food (eaten out or catered), and other services like rental cars.
Mease said the majority of the companies at the fair were from the mid-Atlantic, ranging geographically from the Baltimore, Md., area to the Charlotte, N.C. region.
Recruiters Amanda Martin and Mike Patterson from the Roanoke office of Tek Systems said they took about 75 resumes during the event.
“I think it’s been really successful and informative for students,” Martin said.
The most highly represented majors were accounting and information systems, finance, business information technology, marketing management and general business, according to data collected from student registration. About 43 percent of attendees were seniors who are graduating either in December or May.
Senior Jennifer Balatinos, an international studies major, wasn’t able to find many companies to talk to, but she said she felt like attending the fair was a good chance to practice introducing herself to potential employers.
Balatinos’s friend, senior economy and business information technology double-major Jason Pan, said he talked to about 20 companies during the fair. Pan, who plans to be in school for five years, was mainly looking for an internship for next summer.
According to data Tech collects from grads each year, about 51 percent of the class of 2011 was working six months post-graduation (Class of 2012 data is not yet available.). And about 25 percent of the class of 2011 had plans to attend graduate or professional school, leaving only about 25 percent of recent grads in limbo.
Many of the folks who came to recruit current students are Tech alumni. Jason Wheeler, who graduated from Tech in 2009, was back on campus helping to recruit for BB&T.
Wheeler said he hopes the job market is getting better for new grads.
“When I was coming out of school, we [BB&T] had 40 slots for new hires for the whole year. Now we have 80 this year,” he said.
Overall, most students and employers at Business Horizons seemed optimistic about the future.
“There’s plenty of jobs if the student is willing to learn valuable skills,” Mease said.
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