This past Tuesday, the Office of Career Services held its 11th annual Majors Fair in the Student Center ballroom. Students who have yet to choose a major, were considering changing their major or who simply wanted to learn more about their own major were encouraged to come and have any questions they might have answered.
“Students had the opportunity to go around to any majors they would consider, some that they don’t even know anything about, and sit at the tables and learn what’s here for them. Students who are already in a major—say sophomores and juniors—and are beginning to question their choice can come and discuss other majors with alums and upperclassmen and learn what they can do with their major,” said Marge Dussich, Associate Director of Career Services.
“The main focus, though, is the freshman, sophomores and a few early juniors that aren’t quite sure yet about their major.”
Attendance was high at the event. “We had about 370 students come and sign in at the door, and several more that we didn’t manage to count came as well…. It was the most attended majors fair I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been doing this,” Dussich said.
Most of Tech’s majors had at least one representative present, and several of the pre-professional programs sent representatives as well. These representatives ranged from academic advisors, to professors, to alumni and even a few current students.
The format of the event itself was rather free form. The ballroom was broken down by major, with similar majors grouped together at a table and larger or dissimilar majors at separate tables. Students were encouraged to wander around and either ask questions or listen to the representatives explaining the job opportunities, research areas and study options for each major.
Several alumni, both recent graduates and people who have been in the work force for years, discussed examples of projects they had worked on, explained the different work environments present in their respective industries and gave advice for students interested in pursuing particular interests. Professors and older students were also present and described their current projects and studies.
At the Computer Science table, for example, three alumni discussed their past work experiences, outlined the pros and cons of working on a contract-by-contract basis as compared to a salary employee and described how different study plans open up different options to new graduates.
“We sent out emails to every academic department here…and it’s pretty much a given that the departments are going to want to participate. It’s like a tradition here now. For the alums, it’s more difficult to get them to come,” Dussich said.
“Often, we reach out to our partner companies and ask if they have any [representatives] that would be interested in coming and talking…. For those majors where we can’t secure any alums, we notify the departments, and they often have better luck.”
All in all, the mood was very relaxed, not so much an information session as it was a chance for students to see what their major (or potential major) would like in the real world.
The majors fair, of course, is not the only service Career Services offers Tech students, nor even the only service geared towards students unsure about their current career path. In addition, Career Services offer one-on-one career counseling, informational seminars on different majors and careers and, of course, career fairs each semester.
Career Services also offers several services to students currently in the process of looking for a job. During walk-in hours, students can have resumes and cover letters critiqued, have job hunting related questions answered and receive advice on how to conduct a successful interview. For a schedule of available walk-in hours, see the Career Services website.
Students wanting a bit of practice before a big job interview can also schedule a practice interview, where a computer program conducts a mock-interview, keeps track of the student’s answers, and observes the student’s actions via web-cam. This resource is accessible on the Career Services site and, for students without access to a webcam, in the Career Services office.
Career Services can also help connect students to companies looking to fill positions (both internships and full-time). Their online tool, Career Buzz, allows students to post resumes, apply for positions, sign up for interviews and more. Another online tool is a large collection of podcasts available from Career Services’ webpage.
Finally, Career Services offers information sessions on topics ranging from acquiring internships, to business etiquette, to grad school applications and more.
A library in the Career Services office in the Student Success Center is stocked with a variety of publications, books and brochures on looking for jobs, applying for jobs and comparing job offers, as well as career planning and advice for students considering graduate school.
Dussich says, “I think career counseling is incredibly important, because without that clarity of the direction [students] want to go, everything else doesn’t really fall into place.
“They need to be as clear as possible about their direction, and the career counseling piece of Career Services is extremely important to this. [We hope that we] can get the word out to all the freshman in particular so that while they’re here, they know where to come for that help…. Wwe will sit down with them as often and as long as they need it.”