The University of Idaho Spring Career Fair brought hundreds of UI students and 122 companies from across the U.S. together to find new opportunities with each other.
Some employers were local, only coming to UI’s Career Fair and yesterday’s Career Expo at Washington State University. Others were larger and sent recruitment teams from Boise, Seattle and other cities.
Necia Ching recruited for Dannon, the yogurt company, and said many of her conversations involved reassuring students that their degree has a place in the manufacturing industry.
“You have to get past the thought process that yogurt is you and bunch of hippies and a bucket mixing,” Ching said. “It’s high-end equipment.”
She said many careers exist for non-STEM majors, but most people don’t realize it.
“I think as a whole, manufacturing recruiters or companies need to do a much better job about being on campus and being visible and helping professors speak with the students about the opportunities that are in manufacturing,” Ching said.
At each table there was a banner that listed areas of study the different employers were interested. One of the areas on Dannon’s banner was business management.
“So all of your finance kids will go under here. All of the communications, all of your sales and marketing,” Ching said. “That’s a pretty big umbrella for all of your liberal arts programs.”
The Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) banner listed just one thing they were looking for — innovators.
“Innovators is where ITD is heading,” said Kirby Kirkham, an engineer for ITD. “ITD as a whole is encouraging ‘How can we get better as a department?’ If you have an idea, let’s get it out there to make our job better and more efficient so we can be a better department.”
Kirkham said ITD tabled because the department has jobs all over the state.
“We want to get our name out there because most people think we’re just civil engineers or transportations, but it’s amazing how many job opportunities are available anywhere from human resources, public relations, IT, GIS.” Kirkham said.
Violet Gomm, a sophomore studying electrical engineering, said she looked for a summer internship and to find out what employers are looking for in a new hire at the fair. She said she hoped to find an engineering job where she could interact with people as well.
“That’s what I’m hoping to sell,” Gomm said. “That I’m a personable engineer as well as smart.”
Gabriel Riggs and his twin brother Jacob are juniors, both studying mechanical engineering, and said they were looking for a job in design engineering.
“I’m looking for internship, get experience hopefully. I’d like to at least get a starting-level job, or apprenticeship or something.” Gabriel said. “If it’s paperwork I’d do it, but I’d like to start at a computer and start designing stuff.”
Gabriel said he spoke to several employers and realized there was a lot of competition in his field.
“I’ve learned there’s a lot of places that aren’t in Idaho,” Gabriel said. “A lot of people want permanent jobs and there’s not too many mechanical engineering openings.”
Robin Zadzora recruited for Hill Air Force Base in Utah and said the UI Career Fair stood out from other similar events.
“This one has a great staff, and when I tell people which career fair I like to go to it’s always the University of Idaho,” Zadzora said. “They’re so catering to the recruiters that are here, it’s wonderful to come to this one. And the students are genuine. They’re always nice and open to talk to. It’s just a good group of people here.”
Chris Cook, the director of career services at UI, said his office prioritizes the employers’ needs for the event. He and his staff make sure employers can set up, move their things and have extra resources available.
Cook said the positive environment is beneficial for students and employers.
“I want them to be successful. I want them to be in a positive frame of mind when they’re interacting with our students,” Cook said. “They keep coming back because of the quality and caliber of the students, but us having great customer service and treating them extremely well, that’s just like frosting on top of the cake.”
A pathway between tables was blocked by 11 attendees in a circle who examined a piece of fabricated metal a recruiter was holding. Matt Milenkovic, from Exotic Metal, said it was all part of the company’s unique recruitment process.
“This is actually our first round interview,” Milenkovic said. “It’s how they interact with (our lead engineer) and the group. How they come up with solutions to manufacture that piece you see. That’s going to determine who gets a phone call tonight for an interview tomorrow.”
Jack Olson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org