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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Inside the Career Expo

Students looking to make the transition from the classroom to the workplace filed into the third floor Campus Center Ballroom last Thursday for the Workforce 2004 Career Expo, organized by University Career Services.

The expo featured nearly 50 different employers representing myriad industries including healthcare, community services, retail and financial services. The Ballroom was filled with students looking for internships or their big break. Michael Gaskins, a Career Services counselor in attendance described the event as “successful.”

Company representatives found the event worthwhile and UMass students amicable. “It’s been outstanding,” said Kyle Woodward of American Express, adding, “Every year we have fantastic candidates from UMass.” Sue Ann Fox of Harvard Pilgrim Health commented, “We’ve had lots of interest.”

The firms in attendance were offering more than just a wage to prospective employees. Fox insisted that the jobs did not just offer competitive salaries but also a “good opportunity to learn that industry.”

Judy Siggins from the Charles River Association for Retarded Citizens called the positions available “hands-on opportunities to make a difference.” Anthony Lattizzori of John Hancock Financial stated, “There are very few careers in the world where you help people and you get paid very well for doing that…and Hancock is one of them.”

Despite the enthusiastic statements from companies, the reactions from students were mixed. “It appears pretty narrow,” Sam Davis, a management student, said of the offerings. “I am disappointed,” said Basar Poroy, adding, “I am looking for a marketing job. There is not much in the way of that.” There was also little to be found in the way of IT jobs. Bayu Hardi commented, “To some extent I am a little disappointed but I was expecting not to find a lot of IT jobs today.”

Other students found the expo very helpful. Olga Lavrenko, a management major who found an internship through a past career fair, called it a “great opportunity,” saying, “I was lucky to get an internship.” Although economics major Tonya Molina was only interested in a few firms at the expo, she reported that “Overall I would say it was good.” Matthew Long, a non-degree seeking student called the job offerings “great.”

Some students also criticized what they called “low-wage” jobs being offered. An English major who wished to remain unnamed said, “Some of these jobs are labor jobs not related to academics,” and characterized them as “working-class.” In the past, Career Services has been criticized for hosting a high concentration of blue-collar jobs at the expo.

Gaskins defended the choice of participants, saying “Our fairs have featured companies that reflect jobs that are available given the state of the economy,” and that “[Some students are] looking for an opportunity to supplement their income while they’re in school and we try to fulfill that student’s need as well.”

Even if you didn’t find a job or internship at the expo, there were plenty of opportunities to network and many of the firms were giving away goodies, such as the free massages compliments of the Muscular Therapy Institute which was recruiting new students.

While the Career Expo is the most obvious of the efforts to connect students and employers, Career Services can be found at room 1100 on the first floor of the Campus Center. There they offer interview tips, résumé assistance and a résumé referral program.

Gaskins advised students to look beyond the job fair offerings. “Awareness is the key to success,” he said, advising students to follow up with companies and inquire about other positions and to check the career services website at www.careers.umb.edu. He urged students to make appointments with career counselors to review job search strategies and use the exclusive UMB search engine located at monstertrak.com.