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Annual Career Expo hooks up students and employers

Although receiving an education from the University of Miami may boost a student’s self esteem with regards to finding a job, whether he or she will actually find one is still a nerve-wracking question for many.

This is one reason why UM sets up job fairs such as the Fall Career Expo. This year 1,002 students and alumni attended the four-hour long event on Sept. 20 in the Wellness Center, with approximately 190 companies set up on the first and second floors.

Because the job fair was an hour shorter compared to last year, the Toppel Career Center, which hosted the event, did not expect such a high turnout.

According to Natalie de Rojas, assistant director for recruiting services at Toppel, 544 representatives participated in the fair, 62 of which were UM alumni. Alumnus Petr Proy, who majored in economics and marketing, said he remembered coming to a past expo with no expectation of finding employment. To his surprise, Target recruiter Beth Reese, who also participated in this year’s fair, discovered him.

“[The job] allowed me to use skills I learned in school and to fully exploit my potential,” Proy said. “What UM did was to help me see the why’s behind what Target does.”

No guaranteed job

“Some people have a misconception that they will leave [the expo]with a job,” said Christian Garcia, associate director of employer relations at Toppel. “It’s a process. You go through various interviews.”

Amyl Headrick, a senior recruiter for Abercrombie & Fitch, said that the company’s hiring process involves two interviews. If these go well, then the student may begin management training.

“We are here to find the best students,” Headrick said.

Garcia said some students leave frustrated after hearing that they have to apply for positions online.

He explained that most companies do this to avoid favoritism. Some students who participated in a face-to-face meeting still have an advantage. Contrastingly, others felt the advantage is found online. Ryan Amundsen, a junior and audio engineering major, came in search of an internship.

“There are a lot of companies that offer [internships],” Amundsen said. “[There are] not too many audio engineering opportunities, so I feel I am going to have to go online.”

Amelia Guzman, an alumna and recruiter for Totalbank, was hired in July after having attended about six different expos with high hopes. She knew which fairs would be more productive by being aware of the businesses attending.

“When you’re looking for a job, you have to dedicate yourself like [you would to]a class,” Guzman said. She added that finding a job within one’s field that also pays well takes patience and research.

Matthew Lee, a sophomore majoring in international finance and marketing, found most of the positions being offered were solely for juniors and seniors; however, he said the fair would have been more productive for him if he had prepared a resume at least a week in advance.

Advertising versus hiring

All companies that participate in the Career Expo partner with Toppel and are contractually obligated to abide by certain guidelines.

The basic requirement is that the employer must be looking to fill a part time, full time or intern position. This and other policies check and balance the businesses so as to prevent pure advertising, yet Garcia acknowledged that it is inevitable.

“The reality is they’re all advertising,” he said. “In essence, they’re selling what they are all about,” Garcia said.

He added that this is done in part because the companies know students are going to be well-qualified, so they are doing what they can to hire the best.

“[Abercrombie & Fitch is] promoting a lifestyle,” Headrick said. She added that the clothes sell themselves, but the lifestyle is something the employees have to maintain, something that is done by requiring employees to constantly wear Abercrombie merchandise while both on and off the job.

Other promotions of the “Fitch” lifestyle by their table at the expo included images that appeared with their company name, such as a billboard portraying a muscular male model.

For Target, recruiters also sought to promote the business’ quality and name. When asked what she would change about the expo, Reese said she would put bullseyes, the company’s logo, all over the floor.

Past hiring trends

About one-third of UM graduates find a job within six months of graduation, said Jim Smart, the director of the Toppel Center.

Garcia said the Toppel Center does not keep a record of the students hired through the expo but sometimes receives news from graduates who contact them. Those students often participate in an online newsletter sent out to students and employers spotlighting a UM student who found a job through the expo.

Fanny Olmo may be contacted at f.olmo@umiami.edu and Walyce Almeida at w.almeida@umiami.edu.

September 26, 2006

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.