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Over 100 companies attend Career Center Fall Job and Internship Fair

Private companies paid up to $700 for a booth at the fair

The Fall Job and Internship Fair was held Wednesday and Thursday in Newcomb Hall.
The Fall Job and Internship Fair was held Wednesday and Thursday in Newcomb Hall.

Over 100 companies were in attendance during the University Career Center’s 2018 Fall Job and Internship Fair in Newcomb Hall this Wednesday and Thursday. Companies were required to pay registration fees to reserve a table, with prices depending on company type. Private companies paid $700, nonprofits paid $350 and startup organizations paid $100. 

Companies who wished to participate in the recruitment process of the job fair completed a profile through the third-party website Handshake and registered for the event. 

While these components were the only criteria for determining which companies were at the fair, David Lapinski, the University’s Career Center Director of Employee Relations, emphasized that their biggest concern was providing diverse opportunities and company interactions for students. 

“We never want cost to be an issue, so we offer discounts or special promotions,” Lapinski said. “We know, for example, there’s continued interest among students in start-ups, and we know startups don’t necessarily have the resources as other organizations do so we offer a $100 rate.” 

The 2018 Fall Job and Internship Fair was located on the third floor of Newcomb Hall and included a wide variety of fields and employers. Among the companies represented were NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, American department store chain Belk and startup accelerator White House Labs. The career fair is one of several programs instituted by the Career Center’s employer relations division, which oversees programs related to recruitment including career fairs, information sessions and interviews. 

Lapinski said that over the course of the two days when the career fair is offered in the fall, approximately 2,000 students attend to talk to potential employers, pursue a specific internship or job opportunity or just become more comfortable with the recruitment process. Students from every graduation year are welcome to attend the fair and their reasons for attending vary. Many agree their overall goal is to become more comfortable with the recruitment process so that the feel prepared when they actually plan to pursue those opportunities. 

“I guess I decided to come because I think a lot of people at U.Va. are very much internship driven,” second-year College student Annie Chapman said. “My focus or goal was to just come and talk to people and get some experience with talking to professionals. Hopefully an internship comes out of it, but you can’t really expect that.” 

Third-year College student Sarah Bonyak said her main goal was to pursue specific opportunities and internships related to marketing or public relations, but agreed that the job fair provides a comfort level that is hard to achieve at other recruitment opportunities.

“The fact that it’s done through U.Va. makes it easier to process,” Bonyak said. “It kind of makes me more comfortable, because we’re all U.Va. students, we’re all going through the same stuff.” 

Bonyak also said she would like to see bigger companies with a national or global focus

in the future as the career fair grows. 

The event was described on Handshake as “come as you are,” though both Chapman and Bonyak were dressed in business casual, including dress pants, blazers, cardigans or button-downs. Both students said they wanted to make a strong first impression and demonstrate they cared enough about the opportunity.

“I don’t know if I felt pressured as much as I want to look like I take this seriously,” Chapman said. 

As for why employers seek out the fair, University alumnus Berhaneu Bultha of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center cited the reputation of the University and its students as a primary motivation for attending. 

“We know U.Va. is a very good school,” Bultha said. “We’ve had summer internships —   students from U.Va. — so we wanted to spread the word out here. All the experience we’ve had has been good so we wanted to get more students from U.Va.” 

In regard to attending any career fair, however, Lapinski stressed the importance of students coming in prepared, connected and confident. 

“There’s the research, there’s connecting with that career counselor, and also engaging with peers,” Lapinski said. “Don’t be afraid to go up and ask, just learn about organizations … these organizations, they’re here on Grounds, it’s the one time in life that they’re coming to recruit you as students so don’t be afraid to just go up and ask questions, and then talk to them and have a conversation.”