Under blue and gold balloon arches flanking the main floor of the William Pitt Union, students and employers swapped handshakes and resumes for the third time this semester.
Typically, Pitt’s Office of Career Development and Placement Assistance sponsors two large-scale careers fairs in the fall and spring. According to the CDPA, the events are designed to provide an opportunity for students to talk about their skills and career objectives with a wide range of employers.
This year the CDPA decided to experiment by separating the fall career fair into two weeks and two smaller events: one on Sept. 28 and 29, for science, technology, engineering and math majors, and the other, this Wednesday and Thursday, for business, humanities and social science majors.
Cheryl Finlay, associate dean and director of the CDPA, said in an email that the decision to separate the career fair was the result of student feedback and research into past fairs.
“An overwhelming number of students wanted an opportunity to have a ‘niche experience’ with employers who reflect their areas of career interest,” Finlay said.
Whether it was due to the split in career fairs or the fact that there’s one day left in the humanities fair Finlay could not say, but employers and students perusing the fair Wednesday afternoon said they were unimpressed with this year’s turnout.
Andrew Levandoski, a junior computer science major, attended the STEM fair last Thursday to land an internship opportunity, but said he was disappointed in the array of opportunities.
“I kind of thought that it was mediocre,” Levandoski said. “I mean, there were a lot of people there, but I think I was expecting more in terms of the opportunities available. There weren’t really a lot of opportunities for computer science people like myself.”
Nearly 250 different organizations were scheduled to attend the separate two-day events, according to the CDPA. Employers in attendance varied from corporate organizations to government and nonprofit organizations from across the country, including UPMC, the National Security Agency and Every Child, Inc.
In the past, The Pitt News has reported that about 200 employers and 3,000 students attended the one-day fair. This year, Finlay said about 2,000 students attended the STEM fair last week, and she did not give an estimate for the first day of the business, humanities and social sciences fair.
She added that through the inclusion of so many different employers, the fair — despite its changes — presented even more opportunities for students than what were previously available.
“It’s hard to compare attendance at this four-day event to past events, because past events have incorporated all majors into one day,” Finlay said. “We’ve also heard from students who have said there have been much better opportunities available than what were available at fairs in the past.”
The location of the fair was also moved from its prior location in the Petersen Events Center to the William Pitt Union. The CDPA office thought the central location would attract greater numbers of students and employers.
After hearing about the turnout for the STEM fair from the CDPA office, some employers and students expected a large crowd for the business, humanities and social science fair.
Abhinav Sharma, a first year MBA student, said he expected to wait in line to talk to the employers.
“I honestly was surprised that there were so few people here,” Sharma said. “It was relieving almost because in India, where I am from, everyone is very focused on getting jobs, and it would have been a mad rush of people to certain employers if an event like this was held there.”
While some of the nearly 250 employers saw numerous students stop and deliver resumés, others didn’t have the same sentiment.
Dustin Nulf, a realtor with Keller Williams Realty, said that he felt “bored in a sense” due to the lack of interest at the first day of the business, humanities and social science event.
“We’ve been here for two years now and three different career fairs, and this is the least amount of people I’ve seen at an event like this,” Nulf said.
Kelsey Kerr, a listings coordinator for Nulf, who was hired after attending the career fair last year at the Petersen, agreed with her boss that the event wasn’t up to expectations.
“I honestly was overwhelmed by the number of people at the fair last year when I was a student, and now seeing this, it’s nothing in comparison. We really haven’t had many students come by at all,” Kerr said.