Job fair caters to STEM field students

SIU students recently had the chance to meet with employers in some of the largest growing fields in today’s job market.

The Student Center’s second floor was filled Wednesday morning with company representatives and prospective student employees looking for jobs or internships in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Employment in professional, scientific, and technical services related to STEM fields is projected to grow by about 29 percent, which would add about 2.1 million new jobs between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employment in computer systems design and related services, which are also considered STEM fields, is driven by a growing demand for sophisticated computer network and mobile technologies and expected to increase by 47 percent, according to the statistics. Additionally, the statistics anticipate a 58 percent expansion in management, scientific and technical consulting services employment.

“This is a discipline- and academic-specific fair,” said Michelle Garrett, recruitment coordinator at SIU. “These are extremely hot fields right now, and employers recruiting those students like to come to events that are specific to those particular academic programs.”

Garrett said STEM job fairs are a growing trend on college campuses. She said these job fields are extremely competitive and a student’s grade point average is important.

She said students have to put in a lot of work that includes developing a resume early, preparing what they will say to an employer, and researching the fair’s organizations before attending to make sure they know which one they can join.

“It takes a lot of prep and homework to really work at a career fair in the best possible way,” Garrett said.

Students who attended the event, she said, have a chance of finding employment because the companies pay money to come to the university. She said this means employers are looking specifically for SIU students, and SIU alumni work for most of the organizations.

Garrett said multiple employers return to the university every year to look for potential workers. However, she said the school does not rely on them and tries to branch out to new organizations.

She said students should worry about finding summer internships and jobs before the end of the year.

“We see this all the time,” Garrett said. “Students who are going to be May graduates, they don’t start thinking about their job search (un)til March … and by that time they are really behind.”

Various companies came to represent themselves for the fair. Some were even former students.

Steven Brown, a Hansen Corporation employer and SIU alumnus, said his company was at the fair to look for quality engineering interns from the university. He said he went to a job fair like Wednesday’s when he attended school, and returning as an employer shows its impact.

Another company that made itself available to SIU graduates was State Farm Insurance.

Erica Lindamood, a State Farm systems analyst, said SIU is one of the company’s target recruitment schools. She said there are a lot of SIU alumni who recommended the company visit the school to look for future employees.

Despite the increasing STEM employment demand, students who visited the fair said they came for various reasons.

Brandon Tanner, a senior from Tunnel Hill studying civil engineering, said he came to the fair to check out job opportunities and obtain job experience.

Tanner said he has been preparing his resume for a while and thinks he has a good chance of getting hired. He said the fair really shows that SIU has an impact in the career world and companies are eager to hire SIU students.

Zachary Anslinger, a freshman from Evansville, Ind., studying engineering and another fair attendee, said he was looking for an internship at the fair.

Anslinger said he did not think he would have a chance as a freshman, but he wanted the experience so he could eventually get a job.

The job fair attracted non-SIU students as well such as Eusene Fox, a senior from China Community College studying information technology. Fox said he prepared for the fair for weeks and had a list of companies he would try to get a job from. He said he thinks SIU offered many different connections to jobs and was pleased with the amount of opportunities offered.

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