By Kelly Curran
Despite a troubled economy, a record number of employers turned out for the Fall 2008 Career Fair held Tuesday and Wednesday in Baker University Center Ballroom.
The Career Services event attracted 176 companies from across the country, including Microsoft, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Ernst & Young and The J.M Smucker Co. Last year, some 135 companies took part.
"We're looking for the next best thing," said Shannon Davis, a representative for Target stores. She said that even considering the economy, "we haven't slacked at all" in recruitment.
The same is true for Key Bank. Although the company is being prudent in hiring, officials know it's important to attend, said bank representative Kelly Goshe. "You always need good people."
According to Brandon Bute, assistant director of Career Services, companies are looking ahead -- and preparing -- for the future.
"The economy will swing back up,'' Bute said. "Baby Boomers are still going to retire, and (companies are) preparing for that."
Bute and a team of Career Services workers and volunteers started both days at 6 a.m., attending to last-minute details and helping company representatives set up booths.
"We try to put on the best career fair for employers," Bute said. "We strive to be the best they see."
According to Director of Career Services Thomas Korvas, the hard work pays off for students and companies. "Our ultimate goal is giving our students as many opportunities as possible," he said.
Ohio University students took advantage of the opportunity to network. Over the two-day event, 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students attended, searching for jobs, internships and post-graduate opportunities, Korvas said.
Eric Miller, a senior majoring in political science, said the fair changed his thinking about careers.
"I'm trying to keep my options open, see what's out there and gather info," he said. "This helps narrow things down."
Miller said he met with a law school representative and decided that law "doesn't really sound like something I want to go into."
But a stop at the booth housing Teach for America, which recruits students to work in low-income schools, gave Miller some new ideas. "I didn't consider it until a few minutes ago, and now it's something I'm really thinking about."
Miller, who said his education is being paid for by his family's investments, was feeling anxious about searching for jobs in an economically unstable time. So was Ashley Gorman, a senior organizational communications student looking for a job in event planning.
"Companies hire event planners to get that competitive edge," Gorman said. "But those are usually the first jobs to go, so there are really no guarantees that I will find something."
Other students had confidence the economy will turn around quickly.
"I feel some pressure going into the job market, but I have faith that it will get better sooner rather than later," said Jim Fuhs, a senior studying sociology who's looking for a sales job.
Junior retail merchandising student Lauren Moore agreed. "It doesn't scare me," she said. "I know it is going to get better, and I'll end up getting a job somewhere."
Overall, the students made good impressions, company representatives said.
"I don't see a single one texting," said Cate Shearer of Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services. "Everyone's been uber-professional, well-prepared and dressing the part."
Brian Kogut of the St. Regis Resort Aspen commented on students' preparedness for life after graduation.
"I go to other universities and students don't have realistic expectations. They want to make $50,000 today," Kogut said. "I always tell people that they should take a job for the opportunity and not just the pay, and that's the mindset students have had here today."
The Career Services Center, located in Baker University Center 533, will host its next career fair on Feb. 3, 2009, and a teacher recruitment fair on April 20, 2009.