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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

UC Davis Internship and Career Center invites students to further their career journeys at upcoming fairs

Both the Business and Public Service Career Fair and the STEM Fair at UC Davis will cater to students and alumni


By LYNN CHEN — features@theaggie.org


For college students, entering the post-graduation world may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, the Internship and Career Center (ICC) at UC Davis is here to help students navigate their first steps.

On Oct. 18 and 19, the ICC will be hosting the Business and Public Service Career Fair as well as the STEM Career Fair that are open only to students and alumni. Each event will last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will take place at the University Credit Union Center.

Employers will come to the fair to recruit potential UC Davis students to their respective companies. 

“Rather than having students who have to go out and find these employers, we bring them to campus,” Executive Director at the ICC Marcie Kirk Holland said.

At events like these, students usually arrive dressed in formal business attire with polished resumes in hand. Some undergraduates research the attending companies beforehand in order to rehearse elevator pitches to these recruiters. 

The Business and Public Service Career Fair, like the name suggests, will feature employers from areas like finance, management consulting and marketing, but also fields like public policy, education and sustainability. On the other hand, the STEM Fair will have employers in interest areas like biomedical engineering, food science and agriculture.

Splitting the usual Fall Career Fair into two separate events is a new move by the ICC, according to Holland. 

“Traditionally, in the fall, [we] offer a fall career fair […] [however], there were so many employers interested in hiring Davis students that we couldn’t fit the demand of all the employers,” Holland said. “So we [looked] at how to maximize student access to the most employers possible and decided to split [the fair] into two days.”

However, Holland emphasized that students going to the Business and Public Service Career Fair may also find opportunities at the STEM Fair. Just because a company has a STEM mission doesn’t mean it can’t offer business-related positions. More importantly, Holland stressed the importance of students going to the fair in general.

“For many students, [applying for a job] is brand new to them, and it’s human nature to avoid things that are difficult and you don’t know [about], but avoiding looking for a job until you graduate has consequences,” Holland said.

“I don’t want to freak people out,” Holland said. “You look when you look, and it’s never too late, but the kinds of jobs that are available at career fairs in the fall are different from the kinds of jobs that will be available to students if they wait to do their job search after graduation in June.”

For many organizations, especially larger ones like Fortune 500 companies, as part of their strategy in university recruiting programs will have a set number of jobs that new college graduates can fill. These deadlines are usually in December.

As such, quarter-system schools like UC Davis are already at a disadvantage as they start university later than schools on the semester system. 

Some students have already engaged with recruiters early on through virtual career fairs that the ICC hosts before fall quarter begins. For others who did not attend virtually, the upcoming career fairs will represent a second opportunity.

Furthermore, even if students are unsure of what specific career positions they’d like to pursue, certain companies at the career fairs next Wednesday will offer management training programs for students.

These programs rotate interested students through cycles lasting from six months to a year to try out different roles within a company or industry. Once the programs are over, participants get to decide what is the best match for themselves within the company. 

A student may work in a finance rotation program at a bank, a position they were able to acquire in the fall through the ICC career fairs, according to an example by Holland. In contrast to students who applied for a job position at the bank in June after graduation, the student in the finance rotation program would be able to acquire a more desired job position. Thus, a student like this would be on a faster track for advancement within the company.

“There are jobs that tend to have a career trajectory to them,” Holland said. “[The jobs] include mentoring [as well as] the intent [to] hire the right people first and then see where they fit.”

“There are these really great opportunities for students, [but] not enough UC Davis students are taking advantage of these opportunities that we want them to have,” Holland said. “[These opportunities] can really set them well up for career success.”

The ICC has made several efforts to help undergraduates get a head start in their careers. Other than splitting the usual fair into two to aid students in accessing more employers, the ICC hosted a Career Fair Prep Week right before the two fairs. The week-long event included activities such as Resume Boost, lessons on preparing for the fairs and drop-in advising sessions for students looking for interview tips and ways to refine their LinkedIn profiles.

The ICC will also be tabling a booth at the upcoming fairs for students who don’t feel prepared for the events.

“On one hand, we want students to do their research on companies, have their resumes, dress well and all these things, but we don’t want students to think if they haven’t done all that they shouldn’t come,” Holland said. “There’s still value in coming.”

Holland encourages students to just explain their situations to employers — such as being in workout clothes — and express a genuine interest in the recruiters’ companies.

“We’ll have people at our ICC booth [during the fair] coaching students on how to be ready to go talk to an employer,” Holland said.

Holland also recommends those attending to find a company of the right fit. 

“Certain organizations have more name recognition but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best match for somebody […] There are lots of small to mid-sized organizations that have really great opportunities for students, but [students] may have never heard of them before,” Holland said.

Additionally, it is best for attendees to set realistic expectations for themselves and not feel discouraged if certain interactions with some employers are not ideal. “If you have a less than positive experience with one, move on to the next one,” Holland said.

The ICC also posted an Instagram video detailing advice employers have for Aggies planning to be at the career fairs.

Lastly, for those who are hesitant or unsure of attending, especially undergraduates who have never attended a career fair before, Holland advised those to still attend the upcoming events to get a feel for the experience and explore potential future career options.

Despite mental obstacles that may deter some undergraduates from attending, many students have set their minds on being present at the career fairs.

Phoebe Chu, a third-year sociology organizational studies major, expressed her hopes of being able to use the ICC fairs to her advantage. 

“I think that if I really am able to find [companies] that I’m interested in, meeting with the recruiters in person definitely gives [me] some edge,” Chu said. 

Chu is interested in positions related to human resources and seeks to find an internship for next summer.

Mihini Jayasinghe, a third-year political science major and human rights and education minor, expects to explore the many opportunities the fair will offer her. Her current career plans are to apply to law school after college and become a lawyer specializing in child advocacy.

Jayasinghe will also be tabling for the Sacramento Valley College Corps, which has a focus on career outreach for fellow students. 

“I’m really interested in getting to walk around and seeing all of the different opportunities and employers that are available,” Jayasinghe said. “[There will] just be a lot of me being involved with the fair and also me being excited to see what’s happening there as well.”

Like Holland explained, “[For] most things, it’s just that first step that’s the hardest, right? And that’s why we have career fairs — to make the first step as easy as possible.”


Written by: Lynn Chen — features@theaggie.org