Dressed in an MTSU blue business blazer and with copies of resume tucked firmly in hand, Hayley Marshall of Murfreesboro left last week's Fall Career Fair at Middle Tennessee State University with a better perspective of what options await her in the area job market.
The senior psychology major, who hopes to graduate in the spring after transferring to MTSU from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville last year, was among hundreds of students and alumni who made their way to the second floor Student Union Ballroom to visit the dozens of employers set up inside looking for prospective employees and interns.
Downstairs on the first floor were representatives from two-dozen graduate schools from around the state sharing information for those looking to pursue advance degrees.
"I'm wanting to work with children, so there were two or three (employers) that focused in on that. I'm probably going to follow up with the places I went to," said Marshall, who spoke with representatives from Youth Villages and the Peace Corps. "There are a lot of employers in there ... I sort of mapped out where I was going to go, so it wasn't as stressful as I thought it was going to be."
The 32nd annual MTSU Fall Career Fair was free and open to current MTSU students or alumni. Organizers said one of the primary purposes is to educate students about career options and connect students and alumni with employers for entry-level and internship opportunities.
Hosted by the MTSU Career Development Center, this event is the university's largest on-campus fair of the year, with a diverse group of 98 employers and 25 graduate and professional schools attending and up to 1,000 students expected during the three-hour event. Employers ranging from corporate giants such as Verizon and PepsiCo to locally based companies such as Demos' Restaurant and Ingram Content Group set up booths filled with brochures and various giveaways carrying their brand.
This year's fair moved to the Student Union, a change from the normal location on the track area at Murphy Center and one of increased visibility inside a popular student gathering place. A waiting list includes about 30 employers hoping to make next year's fair.
Just two months into her position, Aflac administrator and recruiting coordinator Samantha Marfield recalls being at a career fair herself not that long ago. She was pleased with the crop of MTSU students and alumni who visited her booth Thursday, calling them "very driven" and "goal-oriented."
"This will become an annual event for us," she said.
And while she was recruiting for internships in human resources, marketing and sales, Marfield emphasized that the insurance provider wasn't just looking for business majors, but people "who are open-minded, who want to be successful and take on a leadership role in an organization."
MTSU senior Brandon Galloway, dressed neatly in a gray business suit and leather carry case strapped to his shoulder, felt optimistic about the contacts he'd made Thursday. The criminal justice major from Memphis, who hopes to graduate this coming spring or summer, knows he needs to "get to the next point in life, trying to decide what I want to do and how I want to go about doing it."
"A lot of information was given to me and a lot of questions were answered that I needed to know," he said.
Through a connection with one of his professors, Galloway said he thinks he has a strong possibility for a summer internship with the Murfreesboro Police Department, one of the recruiters at Thursday's fair.
That's the kind of news that pleases Dusty Doddridge, assistant director of employer relations for the Career Development Center. His office helps students before and after such job fair with polishing their resumes, honing strong "elevator speeches" to employers and taking the proper steps to transition from interview to hire date.
"We were really pleased with the quality of the employers and the quality of opportunities for our students," Doddridge said. "It's all about connecting students and employers."
For more information about the MTSU Career Development Center, call 615-898-2500 or visit www.mtsu.edu/career.