Written by Sara Hook // Photo by Balazs Balassa
The Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) hosted a STEM job fair on Thursday, March 23, offering opportunities for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to network and meet potential employers. This year’s fair had 17 employers and over 60 registered students, said events and marketing coordinator Hallie Beth Beck.
“Usually there are more students who show up and don’t register on Handshake,” Beck said. “A lot of students don’t know about Handshake, but it’s really great.”
Handshake, said CPE assistant director Cindi Ingram, is the primary way for employers and graduating students to connect and is the CPE’s biggest resource for finding employers. Many employers return yearly, Ingram said, and they want to hire Harding students.
“We invite anyone who’s STEM-related,” Ingram said. “We just maintain a relationship with them, and it’s something they look forward to coming to every year, because we have a good reputation with them.”
Events like this are not just limited to seniors. Networking is one of the big benefits, Ingram said, even if you don’t get a job out of it.
“You’re starting your networking by going there and meeting these employers and forming relationships with them, so that when you do get to your senior year you already have built relationships because you’ve seen these people every year,” Ingram said. “It’s also just a good opportunity to get more comfortable in that setting.”
Beck, who is in charge of many of the career fairs, said she especially loves them because of the connections she makes.
“You just get to talk to people and make connections and network and get to interact with not only students but also employers,” Beck said. “The interactions with people [are] my favorite part.”
Harding typically offers several career fairs throughout the year, but many departments were previously in charge of their own individual fair, Ingram said.
“We’ve taken on more fairs this year,” Ingram said. “There’s been a lot of learning with that.”
Other fairs the center has worked on include a youth ministry fair, nursing fair, and education fair. Senior Zachary Bishop attends all the fairs through his work with the CPE and said they are always full of energy.
“The CPE and Harding want students to get a job after they leave this place,” Bishop said. “They don’t want students to get stuck in the college bubble forever but instead want them to find their calling in the world, both professionally and spiritually. Our career fairs serve as an avenue for finding opportunities to work and people to connect with and learn from.”