As Evan Martins walked through the 29th Annual Saint Peter’s University Fall Career Fair, he had one goal — to find full-time employment with a company that deals with computer science, his major. As Martins strolled from table to table, he spoke with many friendly recruiters, but by the end of day, he realized that not many companies at the career fair cater to his interests.
After the economic collapse of 2008, many businesses in the United States continue to struggle, but there is some glimmer of hope. As of September 2012, the national unemployment rate is down from over 8% to 7.8%, according to the US Department of Labor. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in New Jersey is at 9.8%. Even with such a high unemployment rate in New Jersey, the students of Saint Peter’s University were optimistic and headed to the career fair to chat with the 48 recruiters and hand out résumés in hope of landing a job or internship.
The gym, where the career fair was being held, was particularly crowded around 11:00 AM, which speaks volumes since in previous years, the career fair was most packed around noon.
“I’m just happy to be here,” said a bright-eyed Jesse Daniels, a freshman studying business management. Although many recruiters were looking to hire seniors or juniors, the companies seemed to be open to the idea of hiring a freshman or sophomore as an intern. Jesse Daniels was not the only person happy to be there. The recruiters were enjoying talking to the students.
“I like a lot of people so far. A lot of people seem very interested and engaged. They’re really serious about getting their career started. That’s exactly what we’re looking for,” said Michael Panagis, a recruiter for ING Financial Partners Inc.
Many of these recruiters said that starting salaries at their companies varied. Only Stephanie Weisberg of Fidelus Technologies gave an actual figure. “Depending on their skill set, starting salary is usually anywhere from $35,000 to $45,000 annually,” said Weisberg, whose company had been affected by the 2008 US economic collapse.
“We were affected, but we’re back. We’re stronger than we were before,” said Weisberg.
Meanwhile other companies fared better. “No, it did not affect us at all. We did not take any bail out money,” says Panagis confidently. “We’re doing well. ING, they’re the second largest financial banking conglomerate in the world.”
When asked if the recession affected The Hudson Auto Group, Subaru representative Christina DiFeo said, “Oh geez, that is a hard question. We’ve had our ups and downs, I guess. I guess it didn’t really affect us.”
DiFeo also mentioned that The Hudson Auto Group offered full benefits to any full-time employees, much like many other companies at the career fair.
“Full benefits. Medical, dental, 401K, and pension also,” said a smiling Ray Enyada of Sherwin Williams.
Ray Enyada, much like many other recruiters, was very friendly and personable.
“They were very nice. I was very impressed in how they treated me and how helpful they were in finding me a job,” said Evan Martins, a junior majoring in computer science. “Even if they didn’t have one, they’d refer me to another one.”
Nick Pucci, a senior and accounting major, had a very positive and productive experience at the career fair. “On a scale of one to ten, it was a ten. Biggest turnout ever,” said Pucci who had received some very helpful information from the recruiters of Asner Emper LLC and BASF Corporation.
Not every student at the career fair was lucky as Evan Martins and Nick Pucci. Others found searching for a job opportunity rather difficult.
“I’m majoring in healthcare administration and business administration, but I haven’t found anything,” said Tanya Chopra, a sophomore who came to the career fair in search of an internship or part time employment.
Chopra, like many students, came because it was required by one of her professors, but not everyone at this career fair was even a current student of Saint Peter’s University. Jonathan Ocasio, who graduated in May of 2012 with a BA in Physics, had returned to SPU for the career fair in hopes of finding a job.
“I’m here just to look around and see what kind of jobs there are. I’m trying to go to graduate school and I need a job to pay for it,” said Ocasio.
Outside of the fair stood Malcolm Alexander, a junior and biology major, who opted not to go to the career fair at all.
“I wasn’t aware that they had options available to me. They always make it seem like it’s a business major thing,” said Alexander. “It is pretty much catered to business majors. They don’t even have to go to class; they just go to the career fair.”
Some students such as Vanessa Acosta, senior and accounting major, claim that there are “the same companies every year,” which may have been the reason why Evan Martins was unable to find many computer science companies.
Martins did meet with recruiters who were more than willing to help him find full time employment. However, Martins, like many other students left the career fair disappointed and wanting more. He will have another chance to look for work. The next career fair will be held next Spring.