To kick off the start of a new school year, the University of Maine’s Career Center held its second annual CareerFest. Starting on Tuesday, Sept. 12, the event brought a new approach to the dreaded phrase every college student will one day have to hear — job search.
Created as a three-day event, the fair was filled with presentations, interviews, roundtable discussions, Q&As and chances to meet with career counselors. CareerFest is meant to help ease students’ anxieties about finding a job after college and to make the process a little less stressful.
“Walking into the fair, I was a little bit overwhelmed,” Claire Klaus said. “But once I became comfortable and met some of the hundreds of friendly people who offered their help and advice, I realized just how amazing the event was, and how important these skills are that people can learn here. It was a great experience and I plan on coming to the fair every year it is held.”
Having planned and organized the event since early April, career consultant Samantha Wheeler, Director Crisanne Blackie, as well as many other staff members at the Career Center, took part in the setup and organization. They took time to make sure the event would be appealing to students and had enough resources to make it beneficial.
“There was so much to do at the event. There were so many meetings and presentations, you could always find something that interests you and can help you,” Klaus said.
Along with other, more formal, career fairs held in October and February, CareerFest was created by the career center to be an educational experience that could connect students to resources not usually available to them. With tents, banners and balloons, CareerFest was not something you could easily walk by without noticing.
“We tried to get around six employers to be at the fair to provide industry advice, resume reviews, and other things related to their field,” Career Consultant Wheeler said. “We get different companies to attend, many located around campus. They help us bring these resources to students.”
While the staff discussed how the fair could be improved, and also reviewed and evaluated feedback from last year’s career-readiness events, the Career Center started revamping their events to appeal to the everyday student. To introduce provide support for students, they kicked off their first annual CareerFest that took place last September.
“What’s different from last year’s CareerFest is the addition of roundtable discussions. They are quick 30-minute discussions about networking, internships, job applications and more. They give students snippets of information they can take with them into their career field. Students can win free food, t-shirts, gas gift cards, and things similar to last year that added an exciting and laid back feel to the event,” Wheeler said.
The Career Center aimed to help make the process less overwhelming, making it more casual than the formal career fairs. They also wanted to give students the chance to see friendly faces who are more than happy to help them on their journey.
“I think it is so important for students in college to be prepared for these kinds of things [interviews, applications, etc.] that come with life after college,” Wheeler said. “It is a much more satisfying journey for the students who start this process earlier rather than later, and they will have all the time they need to tweak their resume and make the changes that will make them stand out from the rest when applying to jobs.”
By introducing college students to this information early on, the Career Center hoped that the connections and interactions made during the events will make lasting impressions on students, and on their futures.
The fair was an action-packed, eventful three days that provided much needed insight, advice and lessons to those who wanted to start their job searching journey.
The Career Center is open during the week for questions, walk-in appointments and event suggestions. Appointments can be scheduled at the front desk on the third floor of the Memorial Union or by calling 207-581-1359. To contact Wheeler email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.