Optimism and eye contact overshadowed any nerves at Penn State Behrend’s spring Career and Internship Fair, which brought recruiters from 134 companies and community organizations to Junker Center on March 16.
While the fall program offered the first in-person recruiting opportunity at Behrend since the start of the COVID pandemic, the spring fair was a full return to the traditional format: This time, facemasks were not required.
That was an adjustment for some students, said Kyle Danzey, director of career services in the Academic and Career Planning Center at Behrend.
“Some have a little anxiety, because they have mostly been in enclosed spaces and are now coming into a large room full of people,” Danzey said. “Others are extroverted and ready to shine. Those are the ones who are going to put themselves out there.”
Ashley Taylor, a senior in the mechanical engineering program, preferred being in the in-person format.
“It’s a little strange, but it’s nice to be able to see people again,” she said. “It’s better than seeing a profile picture on Zoom. I definitely got some practice and got to work on some of my communication skills.”
Being able to see a recruiter’s expressions made the interactions more genuine, said Tyler McMaster, who will graduate in May with degrees in international business and marketing.
“Last time, I felt underprepared,” he said. “This was definitely a better experience. I got to talk to more employers, and they all seemed more optimistic about hiring right now.”
The recruiters, too, saw an advantage to meeting students face-to-face, without masks.
“It’s easier to get a feel for their personality and how they would fit in our team,” said Matt Rogerson, manager of development for ECCA, an Erie software solutions company.
ECCA was a first-time visitor to the career fair. The company’s recruiting team included Skye McCarthy, a Behrend graduate who now works as a software developer.
“I had a great experience here, and I came out very prepared,” she said. “That prompted us to come and try to open that relationship between us and Penn State.”
The Class of 2022 should have plenty of options, Danzey said. The number of companies at the spring fair increased by more than a third from the fall. Twenty-eight companies remained on campus to interview candidates for open positions.
“The job market is positive right now,” Danzey said. “A lot of people left their jobs during the pandemic, and employers need to fill those positions.”
Assistant director, news and information, Penn State Behrend