Students at job fair hopeful but weary

UCF students graduating soon are hopeful and confident in the beginning stages of their job search, while recent graduates are quickly becoming discouraged. Both groups tried their luck at the fall Career Expo on campus earlier this week.

Recruiters have deeper pool to choose from

UCF Career Services held their biannual job fair today, hosting hundreds of students and 123 companies at the UCF Arena. While this may sound like a good turnout, it’s actually a significant decrease from last year.


The amount of students in attendance has risen, but the number of employers has severely declined due to the economy, according to Amy Kleeman, director of employer relations for Career Services.

The Career Expo in fall of 2008 drew 223 employers, nearly double the amount of today’s event. Kleeman said most universities are experiencing a similar decline, and that although companies aren’t spending as much money on recruiting, they’re still hiring fresh-out-of-college students.

Todd LaPierre, commercial rental manager for Ryder, said all that has changed in their hiring process over the past couple years is how selective they are due to a rise in applicants. Ryder is a transportation, logistics and supply chain management company and has hired two UCF graduates in the last three years, LaPierre said.

The Orlando VA Medical Center has seen a rise in applicants too, particularly in administrative positions, recruiter Paula McClard said.

Using the Internet as a search tool

There was a balanced mixture of students graduating in December, next May, and recent graduates as of August. All came dressed in their best suits for the same reason: to hand out resumes to the companies that interested them.

One drawback, however, was the lack of diversity among companies, according to recent graduate Erica Livengood, an interpersonal organizational communication major. She said the fair seemed to highlight mostly business and engineering companies. She also said the fair was her first attempt at finding a full-time job aside from perusing the Internet.

“I’ve hit the Internet up, which isn’t very legit I guess,” Livengood said.

Caitlin Lincer, a civil engineering major graduating in May 2010, doesn’t have much time to look for her first full-time job while still in school, so she has applied to a couple companies she is interested in through their Web sites, she said.

“I’ll be more nervous when April comes around,” Lincer said.

Kleeman recommends students explore different “avenues” for employment, including the UCF student and alumni online program Knightlink, she said.

One Day, One Job is a blog created by Cornell University graduate Willy Franzen and profiles one company each day that is hiring entry-level applicants. With over 3,200 subscribers and 1,203 Facebook fans, it provides background information on well-known and up-and-coming companies.

Franzen recommends graduating students begin their job search as early as two semesters before they walk across the stage, particularly if they’re applying for jobs in the most competitive fields of finance and consulting.

“The most competitive jobs are recruiting between now and December, and they’re competing for the best talent,” Franzen said.

But, he said, there are lots of companies that don’t come to UCF to recruit, so students need to reach out to them and find out when they’re hiring.

“The most [job searching] traffic is in January, so you can never start too early,” Franzen said.

Reaching out in person

Most important for job seekers, Kleeman said, is to maintain contact with those in your professional network, as it is the best way to get a job in any economy.

According to a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, networking accounts for at least 69 percent of all annual hires.

“At least start networking and talking to people and asking questions,” Franzen said. “You need to prove that you’re going to add value to a company and you’re going to solve a problem.”


One Day, One Job Web site

UCF Career Services’ Knightlink job database