Career Expo Adjustments Make Positive Impact on Engineering Students, Employers

Many students were seen trekking across campus last week, garment bag and resume in hand, to the Carl Maddox Field House, a new location from the previous years when the Expos were held in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC).

This year’s annual Career Expo, held Sept. 9-11, featured major changes to better accommodate both students and companies.

“The PMAC was a bit more confined than this location,” Olinde Career Center director Jesse Downs said. “There’s plenty of space here for both students and employers.”

Though there was more space in this year’s venue, the location was brimming with students and companies alike. According to Kendall Edwards, assistant director of assessment for the Olinde Career Center, there were “148 students and alumni queued and checked in before the doors even opened at 1 p.m.”

By the two-hour mark, there were 977 students and alumni who had checked in, and by the close of the day, there were 1,494 students registered.

This year’s Expo spanned three days, instead of the usual two. The first two days were geared toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors. The final day was for students who study other majors, such as business or liberal arts.

“Having STEM majors be the focus for the first two days offered more flexibility for companies and students,” Downs explained.

That flexibility garnered much appreciation from STEM students. Some chose to go one day, while others chose both.

In the past, the midday timeslot of 10 a.m to 3 p.m. cut directly into most students’ class schedules, they said. This year was the first time that the Expo featured a 1 to 6 p.m. timeslot on the first day.

Mechanical engineering senior Tucker Algero took advantage of this more convenient time window.

“Having two days is awesome,” Algero said. “I was able to check the first day schedule against the second day, and it just made scheduling around class and work much easier than last year. Most of the companies I was interested in were on the first day.”

Mechanical engineering senior Giselle Medina has already secured employment with Shell upon graduation, but she chose to attend both the Career Expo days to secure some extra funding for her capstone project.

Medina explained that while the Expo had a networking reception in its formative years, the event’s second day still offered more time for students and companies to pursue each other and to review job opportunities.

“I actually have a friend who spoke with a company on the first day and was told to come back the second day, so they could talk more,” Medina said. “So, that second day allowed even more time for actual follow up with the company.”

Although the location changed, a few features remained within the event. There were stickers available for each student participant to place on their nametags, which allowed for easy identification of what they were seeking: full-time position, part-time position, internship or just browsing.

Upon entering the building, students could hand their personal belongings, like backpacks, to volunteers to hold while networking with industries. There were also several designated student prep areas, specifically for students to go over resumes and similar paperwork once more before meeting with company representatives.

There was even a LinkedIn photo booth set up for students to have a professional headshot taken for the business-oriented social networking service.

“I’m pretty sure this booth was set up last year,” said graduate assistant Jessica Waggoner, who manned the booth. “But it really is necessary for students to have a good photo to go with their profile. And the photo is completely free, provided by the Career Center.”

The Olinde Career Center also offered students a host of career expo preparation resources on their website including maps, handouts, employer lists and tips to succeed at the Expo. This year, these resources were made available via mobile app, Careers by Symplicity.

Director of Project Management at Bentley Systems, Inc. Sam Migliore remarked that the preparation of LSU students is noticeable and refreshing.

“I’ve done a few of these career fairs, expos around the area. I’ve seen students that were seemingly unaware of why they came, at some schools,” Migliore said.  I can definitely say that LSU has some of the better prepared, best communicators I’ve come across.”

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For more information, please contact M.B. Humphrey at 225-578-5660 or marissah@lsu.edu.