Alumni Tim Gancer speaks with a participant in the 2017 Fall Career Expo. Photo Credit: Ann Curtis, The Observer
Thousands of students will descend on Notre Dame Stadium this Wednesday evening for the annual Fall Career Expo. The Expo, which is the Center for Career Development’s largest career fair of the year, will take place from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. and includes representatives from 247 companies looking to hire students majoring in everything from English to biochemistry.
“The Expo is open to all students — undergraduate, graduate, everybody’s welcome to attend,” Ryan Willerton, associate vice president of career and professional development.
Planning for the Career Expo began last spring with choosing a date and reaching out to repeat employers and potential new employers, director of employer engagement LoriAnn Edinborough, said. The planning is a huge undertaking requiring organization of countless moving parts to ensure employers and students alike have a productive and rewarding experience.
“A lot of the employers will say we offer one of the best career fairs around and I think we just want to make sure they have an unsurpassed experience while they’re here from our end of, you know, providing it for them,” Edinborough said.
Edinborough said that due to the excessive heat expected for Wednesday evening, the dress code of the Expo has been switched to business casual attire to ensure a more comfortable experience. She also said one of the biggest developments this year is a new app, ND Career Expo.
“With this career fair app, you can do a quick search, have a quick definition of what that company is and the industries that they’re seeking, so you have a little bit of a synopsis while you’re waiting,” Bridget Kibbe, director of undergraduate career services, said. “Then you can ask more of a strategic question instead of coming up and asking, ‘What do you do?’”
On the student side of the planning, Kibbe said her team streamlined the way they did student preparation, switching from 30-minute appointments to resume reviews and workshops covering resume writing, general preparation and interview practice.
“I think the big part is making sure we plan well in advance, and I think this year we certainly did a very good job in doing that,” Kibbe said. “We offered [workshops] across, you know, every day of the week, Monday through Thursday and on Friday and at different times, again, very well-attended, so that’s been a huge plus for us.”
While some students may regard networking and trying to “sell themselves” to employers as their worst nightmare, Kibbe said that the career counselors work to dispel that view of the career fair in their meetings with students, urging students to instead focus on the valuable conversations they can have with alumni and employers.
“We certainly want students to feel that if they have no idea what they want to do, this still is a great place to attend because it’s a discernment tool,” Kibbe said. “Just talking to alums who have probably been through this before themselves, you know, what was their career path, what did they get involved in on campus, what classes did they take, what activities.”
Kibbe said all students, no matter where they are in their educations or career discernment process, should attend the career fair to begin to understand how the skills developed in their classes are preparing them for future careers.
“It’s not about your major. It’s about your skill sets and what’s developed, so we don’t want students to feel like your major defines your career path,” Kibbe said. “For so many employers, it is about your competencies: your comfort level in communication, critical thinking skills, things like that.”
Notre Dame to Host Annual Fall Career Expo - Ciara Hopkinson, The Observer, September 5, 2018