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Career fair prepares students to do a great job

I

n October 2019, over 150 companies occupied seven basketball courts in Purdue’s Córdova Recreational Sports Center to participate in one of the nation’s largest agricultural career fairs. The college was planning to expand its Fall Career Fair further in 2020, but then everything changed.

“The pandemic forced us to make a lot of last-minute adjustments and go completely virtual,” recalled Lela Mixon, assistant director for Career Services and scholarship coordinator. “Thankfully, we learned a lot from that experience.

“Now we are in a stage where virtual is part of all of our processes,” said Mixon. “This year we are applying what we learned and offering the best of both worlds: a virtual and an in-person fair.”

Fall 2018 Career Fair (Photo by Tom Campbell) Fall 2018 Career Fair (Photo by Tom Campbell)

Approximately 90 companies will meet with students in person on Oct. 5. Another 45 employers, like Rachel Schuler of Black Gold Farms, opted to attend this year’s virtual fair on Oct. 7.

“Last year was our first online career fair. We loved it,” said Schuler, who represented Indiana’s largest potato grower. “It was so efficient. We could see the resumes and decide which candidates we wanted to speak with ahead of time. We found two amazing interns who I would recommend to anyone.”

96% of the college’s May 2020 graduates found employment or continued their education within eight months.

Hannah Lynch, a regional technology specialist for Ceres Solutions, plans to attend both fairs, aiming to meet as many candidates as possible.

“My first trip to Purdue’s career fair as a recruiter was a great experience,” recalled Lynch. “I was genuinely impressed by how well the students had prepared. You could tell their teachers and courses had set them up for successful interviews.”

Both fairs will incorporate a new interactive tool called Career Fair Plus. The application lets students receive updates on their phones, read employer profiles, share digital copies of their resumes and find booths.

Other available resources include resume reviews by employers on Oct. 4 and professionally photographed headshots on Oct. 5.

“The career fair has opportunities for everyone, not just recruiters and graduating seniors,” explained Mixon. “Every student can learn about our industry, create contacts and develop their professional identity. Those valuable experiences are why I encourage all students to attend.”

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