Career Fair sees jump in attendance

Whether it was the improving economy, businesses who are ready to hire or college students who are looking for jobs and internships, last week's Career Fair held at the University of South Dakota was busier than usual.

Last year, 115 students stopped by the Muenster University Center to talk to businesses, both local and national during the fall Career Fair.

This year, over 300 students took advantage Nov. 4 of the opportunity to network with about 50 businesses at the MUC, according to Clarence Pederson, a specialist with USD's Academic and Career Planning Center.

"That's a big increase," he said. "It could be that students realize they must take an active role, or it could be a better job of advertising, but it got on the radar screen."

Just over 50 businesses participated in the career fair offering a variety of different jobs.

"We try and balance it a little bit with different majors, and employers who are attractive to a variety of students," he said. "We were very pleased with the variety of companies and the turnout of the students."

Daktronics, which is based out of Brookings, was one of the many companies that was on hand for the fair.

Daktronics recruiting manager Tracey Deatherage said she enjoys coming to USD's Career Fair.

"We have been very pleased with our USD hires in the past," she said. "Typically, we are here every year, sometimes twice a year."

Deatherage said the Daktronics looks for full-time employees and interns. The type of jobs Daktronics offers range from sales and  human resource to accounting and software development.

"On average, we have about 30 openings, and some of them we fill twice, so about 60," Deatherage said.

For Kraft Foods Company, it was the business' first time at the fair.

"Kraft is always looking to bring in more graduates to the work force," said Jeff Donovan, Kraft's retail sales manager out of Sioux Falls. "We want to keep a steady pipeline, and we are always looking for good help."

Kraft Foods was at the Career Fair looking for people with backgrounds from human resources, accounting, business, political science and even English majors or professors.

"If you can speak to a class, you can speak to customers," Donovan said.

Even though many employers were on hand looking for new workers, Pederson said students shouldn't expect to get a job during the fair.

"If you have the idea that you are going to get a job, you are going to come away disappointed," he said. "If you go in with the idea of making some good contacts, you will be happy. It's in the follow-up that you get the job."

That's exactly what Andrew Sitz, a senior at USD who is majoring in business management, did.

"It's a good time to socialize, and I wanted to get my name out there, see what my skill sets were and what I needed to change by talking to the businesses," he said. "I came and created more contacts."

Building contacts wasn't the only thing that drew students to the career fair.

Some students, like USD freshman Samantha Eliason, came to figure out what kind of job or major they want to pursue.

"I'm not really sure what major I want to do yet, and I was just seeing what jobs are available," she said. "I'm still up in the air."

Eliason is having trouble deciding in between dental hygiene and psychology, both which have always interested her.

She was convinced of one thing though.

"I am going to do what makes me happy," she said.

The 50 plus businesses are also hoping to go home and find workers who they think will be happy with their companies.

"We met a lot of great people, and we are looking to bring some people on board soon," Donovan said.

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