Issue 518: 11 / 11 / 2013

Career Fairs Organizers Reach Out to Engage Students

Career Fair organizers are (standing ...

Career Fair organizers are (standing, L to R) Brenda Williams, Career Services Office Supervisor Wanda Coopwood, and (seated) Career Services Specialist Angela Banks.

The Scoop staff spoke with Director of Career Services Brenda Williams about Southwest's 2013 Fall Career Fairs and the Career Services Department's efforts to engage more students.

Scoop:  What new strategies did you use to inform and engage Southwest students?

Williams:  "After receiving feedback from employers regarding the lack of preparation by some students attending our spring 2013 Career Fairs, the Career Services staff decided to try something new. Our plan was twofold … we wanted to make sure that students knew about the upcoming events and also be prepared for them. Our hope was that by getting the information out early, students could come prepared and make meaningful employment connections. During a brainstorming session at one of our staff meetings, several ideas were discussed and we settled on signs that could be put on both main campuses to convey three important messages to students. The result? This semester, with the help of Robert Jackson, coordinator of projects, Communications and Marketing Dept., we acquired eye-catching, colorful signs and put them out a couple of weeks before the Career Fairs. These signs were used in addition to traditional methods such as emailing students, asking faculty to announce information to their classes, promoting the events on our website and posting flyers."

Scoop:  What new companies were present?

Williams:  "There were 11! Allied Barton Security Services, Diamond Comic, Kroger, Lexington Asset Management, Performance Toyota, JM Smucker Company, Rural/Metro, Sears, Stryker Endoscopy, Tennessee Dept. of Revenue, and United Elevator Services."

Scoop:  Why did you select the new location on the Macon Cove Campus; was it more effective?

Williams:  "With all of the HVAC work being done in the Farris Building, we initially had safety and access concerns about using the Farris first floor hallway, as we have done in the past. Once we found out that 25 employers had registered to participate, we knew we needed a larger space in order to accommodate their displays, and the several hundred students and alumni who typically attend."

Scoop:  What kind of feedback are you getting from the vendors?

Williams:  "I heard many positive comments from our employer representatives throughout the day. One said that there was a nice steady flow of attendees, rather than a large crowd all at once. Several mentioned that they were able to talk to many potential candidates."

Scoop:  What is our current placement rate?

Williams:  "Ninety percent of Southwest’s 2012 A.A.S. degree and Technical Certificate graduates are working related to their major; 97 percent are working overall."

Scoop:  What kind of feedback are you getting from the students?

Williams:  "We collected a few hundred evaluations from students in attendance and will be looking at them in the next few weeks."

Scoop:  Is there anything you’d like to add?

Williams:  "Students and alumni who attend Career Fairs have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with area employers regarding jobs, hiring expectations, and career information in general. In a time when so much of the job search process is handled online, it is an advantage to be able to speak to employers directly. More information about services offered by Career Services is available at: www.southwest.tn.edu/career-services/."

View the 2013 Fall Career Fair Photo Gallery.