MTSU students filtered into the Student Union Ballroom at a steady rate Thursday (Aug. 30), with about 100 in the opening hour of the Student Employment Fair to find part-time work while going to college.
Many students gravitated to the Kroger table, where Karla Nipper, human resources manager at the South Church Street location, counted 14 applications completed in the first 45 minutes.
A Connection Point activity to help students get more deeply involved on campus, the Career Development Center-led Student Employment Fair tries to match students seeking work with a local employer.
Nipper and HR colleague Chris Brooks from the Veterans Parkway Kroger offered enticing incentives -- including a $3,500 yearly tuition reimbursement program, Ford automobile purchase, other perks and discounts -- to the job-seekers for the company's seven Murfreesboro locations.
Nipper and Brooks could tell inform students of current department openings at various stores, and she even called the Lascassas Pike store when a student inquired.
"Kroger believes in and does promote from within," Nipper said. "We've been wanting to do this for a while. It's important (since) students are taking care of both school and family life."
Alex Hancock, 18, a freshman chemistry major from Hendersonville, Tennessee, and May graduate of Beech High School, thought the job fair was "very convenient and very effective."
"I was not really looking for a job, but I did see one I would enjoy -- coaching soccer with kids -- with Soccer Shots," the former Beech soccer player said.
Students of all ages -- from 17-year-old Jon Johnson of Memphis to 67-year-old Richie Zaitz of Murfreesboro -- pursued the opportunities.
"The school (MTSU) is really supporting students," Johnson said. "Students have a lot of financial issues. Having a job fixes that."
DoubleTree Hotel brought its well-known chocolate chip cookies. Other off-campus businesses included Adams Place, Coca-Cola Consolidated, Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc., Demos' Family of Restaurants, Belk, Macy's and more.
Pleased with the turnout of both students and companies, Dusty Doddridge, interim director for the Career Development Center, said "we love it when students and employers connect."
Doddridge added his staff may look at rebranding ideas and keeping the three-hour event in the ballroom instead of being in the Student Union Commons.
Next week, the MTSU Department Fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, and the Volunteer Fair will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5. Both are scheduled for the Student Union Commons.
MTSU has more than 300 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.