Last Wednesday, from 1 to 4 p.m., the Career Center hosted the Fall Career and Internship Day in the May Room of Wilson Commons. As a sophomore without a declared major, but who is interested in psychology and Spanish, I wasn’t sure how beneficial the event would be for me, but I figured I’d see what it was all about.

Making my way upstairs around 1:15 p.m., I didn’t know what to expect and, much to my surprise, there was a line of about 25 people waiting to sign in. At the front table, we each filled in the sign-in sheet and made a name tag including our year and major(s). Needless to say, I felt a little weird writing “Undecided” when others had “Neuroscience,” “Financial Economics” and “Engineering” written on theirs. We also each received a map with numbered tables that listed the companies represented, as well as a Directory of Employers so we could learn about each company based on an included blurb and some statistics.

With 64 employers present, this Career and Internship Day was one of the largest that the University had seen in a number of years and, just after walking in, it was certainly believable. Student attendance at the event was over 500 (34 percent seniors, 17 percent juniors, 22 percent sophomores, 11 percent freshman, and 9 percent graduate students). The walls of the room were framed by long tables, while rows of tables were arranged in the center and filled with representatives from companies such as Walgreens, Microsoft, General Electric Energy, the Democrat and Chronicle, Sherwin Williams and the U.S. Air Force, just to name a few.

Before the fair, I met with Senior Assistant Director of the Career Center Amber Graham, and a major point she stressed to me was that “the fair isn’t only for engineering majors.” Huge misconceptions that I think many people have are that these events focus on engineering majors alone, that the companies are only looking for engineering students and that those of other majors won’t find anything of interest.

This was not the case by any means – I received information from Teach for America and New England Center for Children, just two of the organizations that were interested in people with majors other than engineering. There were other organizations with similar interests, as well.

What I found really impressive about the event was how well it was organized and executed. The maps were straightforward and the directory was a great tool to have when walking around. Also, counselors from the Career Center were standing at the first table where students entered to provide assistance. As Career Center Director Burton Jay Nadler wrote on the welcome page of the Directory, “Career Center staff can identify field-focused resources that would be of value. Our tables are first for a reason.”

There were people asking questions and being directed, and I thought that was important, especially for students like myself who don’t have a specific major or field of interest. As I moved through the room, employers were standing up with their materials and engaging students, rather than just sitting, waiting for students to approach them. As hectic as it was, I found the atmosphere exciting just because there really is such potential to work for different companies and have different careers. The employers exhibited at the fair were certainly only the tip of the iceberg with respect to opportunities out there.

So now that I told you all about the fair, what types of companies attended and what the atmosphere was like, you might be wondering what you can really take away from this article. There’s another Career and Internship Day in the spring, but that’s months away. The truth is, I think many students don’t realize we have a great Career Center to help us find internships, on-campus jobs, off-campus jobs, summer programs and just talk about potential careers. The Center is nestled in the back of Meliora Hall near the Bursar’s office and that in itself probably makes people forget it’s there. This fair was a great success in my eyes, and it is only one event of many that the Career Center puts together each semester. Counselors are there to speak to you about anything having to do with your future – they’ll go over what types of jobs people who pursued the same major as you accepted and more. Before this event, I hadn’t even considered just talking to one of them; I hadn’t really considered what career I want to pursue and, as a sophomore, now’s as good a time as any to start. Graham also noted that, “We at the Career Center tailor to what it is a student is looking for, identify companies that will attend the fair or other companies/alumni in different fields?We make the job search work for you.” That sounded pretty good to me the first time I heard it, and it still does. I think for those of us who don’t have majors chiseled in stone yet, the Career Center is definitely a great resource worth taking advantage of – a place to help point us in a good direction. And even for those students with majors, some help planning certainly doesn’t hurt. My suggestion? Make an appointment with a counselor and see where it leads – the Career Center really is there to lend a hand to all of us and channel our years at UR into something to serve us for the rest of our lives. Doesn’t that sound like a place worth visiting to you?

Siegel is a member of the class of 2010.

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