Fall Career Fair Draws Record Number of Recruiters

All that “My name is…” business at Wednesday’s Career and Internship Fair felt a bit like speed-dating: Every conversation was shortened by the fact that someone else was waiting.

This year’s fair was the largest ever: More than 1,000 students attended. They lined up for 160 different companies, including Microsoft, Target, Coca-Cola and ExxonMobil.

Nick Morganti didn’t sweat it. He’s a senior, within reach of a degree in mechanical engineering. He wants a job with a local company: CMI, Indeck, or maybe Lord Corp. He walked up to the tables without rehearsing.

“I figure it’s better to see where the conversation goes and just be open to it,” he said.

“You don’t want it to sound too scripted,” said Julia Schroeck, a 2012 graduate who stood with him, comparing notes. “They see right through that.”

The recruiters have their own strategies. They bring Frisbees, ice-scrapers and little rubber Aflac ducks. That draws students to the table.

Jill Thomas brought an intern, Nicole Waldron, a senior in the interdisciplinary business with engineering program. She hoped Waldron’s classmates would see her and stop to talk.

Thomas works for Enterprise, the car-rental company, where revenues have more than doubled since 2003. The company plans to hire 8,500 management trainees in the next year.

“We’re growing,” Thomas said, “and we like hiring people right out of college.”

A few booths over, at the Viking Plastics table, recruiter Shawn Gross talked about his business, which manufactures clips, caps, brackets and fasteners for major automotive companies.

“This is our career fair of choice,” he said. “We’re always impressed by the students who come through here.”

Not all of them were ready for jobs, however. A few were just a month into college.

“I’ve talked with a number of freshmen today,” Gross said. “They’re testing the ice, trying to get some practice.

“Those are the ones you want to see again,” he said. “They’re putting the effort in.”