It's never too early for students to start researching employers and occupations, especially in this very competitive market, according to Judy Colburn, associate director for Student Development at the University of Washington Tacoma.
Since 1995, Colburn's department has organized an annual event for students and employers to meet, exchange handshakes and size each other up. This year's UW Tacoma Career and Internship Fair is scheduled for Wednesday, April 22, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., at William W. Philip Hall. Around 60 employers are expected to be on hand to meet with students, talk about their organizations and collect resumes. Last year's career fair drew hundreds of eager job-seekers.
"A student does not need to be actively seeking a job to attend the fair," Colburn says. "It's a wonderful networking opportunity to make contacts with employers from many different areas, which can always lead to other contacts."
Graduating seniors looking for their first job after college, as well as those with experience seeking more advanced opportunities, are encouraged to attend this free event. Juniors, sophomores and freshmen looking for internships or part-time jobs also benefit from the Career and Internship Fair. Alumni, too, are invited to scope out the companies and government agencies for job information.
The fair will feature business, non-profit and government organizations. Among the participating employers are PC Bank of Puyallup; DaVita, which has offices in Tacoma; Moss Adams LLP, headquartered in Seattle; and Dwyer Pemberton & Coulson PC, located in Tacoma. Other organizations range from The Children's Museum of Tacoma to Group Health, to Target Stores, to the Peace Corps to State Farm Insurance to Metro Parks of Tacoma. You can review the complete list online (growing daily).
Colburn recommends that job-seekers research the list of employer participants and come prepared to ask questions, talk about their skills and experience, and bring resumes. "They should prepare as if they were going to an interview," she said, adding that UW Tacoma offers workshops on creating resumes and preparing for a career fair. More information about the event and how to prepare for it is available online.
"Prospective employers are impressed with the non-traditional aspect of UW Tacoma students," Colburn said. "Many of our students have work experience and a good work ethic, which employers find valuable. In their evaluations of the event, employers tell us that students are prepared to talk about themselves, have resumes in hand, and have a focus." She added that the employers collect hundreds of resumes and hire many UW Tacoma students.
"We'd like employers to attend even if they don't have any jobs or internships available right now," Colburn said. "It's such a good opportunity for them to gain visibility and for students to learn about the work world and make contacts." Employers can register to participate online.