COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech’s career fairs bring opportunities to students and employers in the community, the state and throughout the Southeast.
This fall brought two full days of career fairs, with more to come. On Sept. 21 the business government and nonprofit organizations fair was held, followed the next day by the STEM engineering fair.
“Employers come to campus and they’re looking for one thing and one thing in particular, and that is talent that is being grown here at Tennessee Tech University,” Russ Coughenour, Director of Career Development at Tech, said.
The university’s large career fairs take place in the Hooper Eblen Center on Tech’s campus, most recently the business, government and nonprofit fair and the STEM engineering fair. Coughenour said he has a feeling of pride when he looks around [the Hoop] and sees all these tables filled with employers ready to recruit the students.
“It’s talking about opportunity. And so it’s just refreshing, I think, to see our students show up and respond to that. They’re dressed up, they’ve got their padfolios, they’re ready to talk about their elevator speeches and hopefully make a really great impression on these employers. And usually they do.”
Career fairs have evolved over time. What was once campus wide events known as an ’employer expo’ or ’employer connections’ are now more targeted to their industrial classifications.
Now there are specific fairs for engineering, education, business, Agriculture, nonprofits and others.
“And it allows us to be a little bit more diversified and maybe not have such one great, big, fair, where everything can kind of get lost a little bit,” Coughenour said. “We start taking registrations, believe it or not, about five months in advance of the job fair and employers will register for the event and get ready for [it]. Students can monitor who’s coming and registering in real time.”
This allows students to start examining the companies, doing research on them and start figuring out how their skills and their major uniquely qualifies them for these companies.
This time frame also allows students to get their resumes updated, their professional attire ready and their interview skills honed in at one of the many workshops offered by the Center for Career Development.
It’s an easy process for the students to get their names and resumes out to a large number of employers at one time.
“The employers are happy to be there because, in a very short period of time, they can collect quite a number of resumes,” said Coughenour. “And it’s very, very cost and time efficient for these employers to do that.”
Students also make quick contact with employers. Employers then follow up with a student with a phone call or an email. And that’s how the process gets started.
Employers are anxious to be involved in things like this according to Coughenour.
Tech’s career fairs have participation from corporations, companies, nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, manufacturing organizations, power companies and many others. These career fairs benefit both large employers who may wish to hire dozens of employees or those small employers who wish to hire one or two.
“Employers come from all over the place now,” added Coughenour. “We primarily influence, in my opinion, the Southeastern part of the United States.”
Companies have had success with Tech students in the past and continue to come back year to the career fairs year after year.
“We have regular customers, and you’d have to put a fence around the Tech to keep them away,” said Coughenour. “We have both returning customers, and we have brand new customers. And, the goal is to keep the companies coming back and wanting more.”
Hundreds of employers take advantage of the opportunities provided by Tech’s career fairs every year. For the companies that are unable to be physically present on campus due to their company mandates regarding travel due to COVID-19, Tech offers virtual solutions.
“We feel very fortunate to be able to hold a face-to-face event,” emphasized Coughenour. “But we’re keeping our fingers crossed that, for spring, maybe we’ll be on the back end of this COVID-19 thing, and everybody will be able to come back to campus.”
Career fairs are held on Tech’s campus in both the spring and the fall.