JOB FEARS: ISU Job Fair Puts Things In Perspective

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Tuesday, Iowa State University students found out just how crowded and competitive the job market is.

Hundreds of students turned out for the engineering job fair on campus. There, employers could meet with potential employees and interns face to face.  But many discovered that the competition for those limited positions has heightened.

Employers at the fair were impressed with the crowd, saying, “They are all very well qualified. I am amazed by the amount of experience that they've gotten,” and “There are really good candidates. The students seem to be well polished.”

It was a pleasant surprise for those looking to hire, but a rude awakening for those seeking employee as they realized just how tough the competition is.

“The scary thing about it is they`re not just looking at our school, they`re coming for a bunch of different schools, people from other major engineering schools, and people that are applying online that have been out of school,” said Sara White, chemical engineering senior at ISU, hoping to graduate in May,. “Some aren’t even looking for people right out of school so it’s like, ‘we have two openings and we’re looking at three different universities plus all the online applicants.’”

White has considered the scenario that instead of a paid full time job out of college, she will have to an unpaid internship. But that’s something she is willing to do. And a job fair, like the one at ISU, allows her to pave the way for both opportunities.

“If I’m just a faceless resume then it’s not very likely to get your foot in the door and so it’s really important because they can see my face and hear my sincerity and get a taste of my personality,” said White.

But White is not the only one preparing.

“I think it’s a lot of people realizing that the economy is tough,” said Peggy Blitz, the Human Resources Director at TriStar, “and they have to be a little more prepared to come out because you are going to be competing with students that are coming out of school, as well and other people that have experience and have been laid off. So the competition is tough.”

And because of the size of the employee pool, employers can be pickier.

“There’s been a few stand outs but I mean a lot are just on the same playing field,” said Rhonda Frederking, a Marketing Recruiter for Caterpillar, Inc., talking about the potential employees she met at the job fair. “To be considered there’s got to be some stuff that stand out or some leadership qualities, even overseas assignments they’ve done, and studying abroad helps as well.”

And that's what many students plan to work on between now and graduation.

“I made sure to ask what kind of classes do you want me involved in, what kind of extracurricular activity do you want me to be involved with, what are you going to look for, when I come around looking for a job,” said Joseph Kopacz , a Mechanical Engineering major with a nuclear minor at ISU.