For most students, going to college and getting a higher education is a way to prepare and qualify them for a career. To help prepare students in as many ways possible, Virginia Wesleyan holds a Career and Internship Fair annually.
This year’s Career and Internship Fair was held on Mar. 8 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and featured businesses of many varieties, such as Chick-Fil-A, Geico, and NATO, as well as several local organizations like the Virginia Beach Aquarium and the Virginia Beach Friends School.
The variety of employers in attendance is a result of careful research done by the Career Development and Internship Program of the Lighthouse. “We really look at a lot of the academic programs here on campus to make sure that we are getting a good representation for all the majors,” Mollie Dunmyer, director of the Career Development and Internship Program, stated. Many of the employers at the fair also cater to more than just one major or interest. The Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, for example, offers opportunities and internships for a wide range of majors, from Environmental Science to Political Science to English and Journalism.
It is recommended that students have a resume prepared before attending the fair so that they may offer it to any of the representatives of the businesses and organizations that they are interested in. Students are also encouraged to do research about the companies present before attending the fair, so they know more about the employers as well as what opportunities are offered, instead of going in blindly. Besides research on the attending employers, students should also come to the fair prepared to answer questions about themselves and their interests, as the representatives they talk to are likely to ask about these things.
Many of the employers who attended the event all shared the same belief that the most important thing a student should come prepared with is their passion. When asked about what stands out about a person most when meeting them for the first time, DeeDran Talbert, the school counselor at the Virginia Beach Friends School, simply said, “Enthusiasm. Just a real passion for what he or she is doing.” Experience in the field of interest is another important skill that the employers like to see on resumes.
The three-hour event gave the students at VWU the opportunity to practice face-to-face interactions and begin to understand how to network and the importance of making a good impression. The Career and Internship Fair is a great way for students to perfect their first impressions and conversation skills in a relatively low stress environment. “The first interaction with an employer shouldn’t be when it matters. It doesn’t need to happen when there’s a job or internship on the line,” Assistant Director of the Career Development and Internship Program Steven Young believes. The event allows students to talk to many different employers in person which builds their ability to make themselves memorable to the representatives. “These people get paid to remember you,” Dunmyer said. “It’s natural to be nervous about it; it would be unnatural if you weren’t at least a little nervous.”
It also was a way for them to represent the university to the community outside of campus. “When the students are dressed professionally and are actively engaging with the representatives, it shows the ambition and drive of the students here and makes the employers want to come back next year,” Dunmyer said.
The Career and Internship Fair has many benefits for students of all levels, including underclassmen. “We encourage students to come to a fair as early on as they can because it allows them to build on their experiences and prepares them for future years,” Young remarked. The sooner students begin to build experience, the easier it will be for them to be successful in their job or internship search later on.