Career fair: Building success through networking

The executive director of Career Services, Kim Barberich, signs in Johnson & Johnson employer Brad Updegrove at the career fair.
The executive director of Career Services, Kim Barberich, signs in Johnson & Johnson employer Brad Updegrove at the career fair.

By Julia Corrigan

The internship and job markets are “strong and continuing to grow,” according to new Executive Director of Career Services Kim Barberich.

The growth of the job market is good news for the students and alumni who entered the fall career fair on Oct. 8 with aspirations to make connections for future opportunities in the job market. The career fair featured approximately 100 employers from all different professional domains looking for students to intern or work at their companies.

One way to alleviate the worry over career fairs is to “practice the one-minute elevator speech and introduce yourself,” said Barberich. “Introducing yourself is one of the more practical areas of professional development.”

She said students should really get used to talking about themselves and talking to people they don’t know.

Barberich came to Rider in September from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Social Work, where she was a director in the career office. Prior to that she worked in Human Resources for American Express. Earlier in her career, she performed five years of research at Harvard University on a project that studied the professions and people who do work that is both ethical and successful.

As executive director of Career Services, Barberich “manages the career services team that includes career advisers and employer relations,” she said. “The career office is twofold in that it has an education and advising aspect, but it also has a partnership aspect with employers.”

She feels career services is essential for students because of the cost of attending college.

“I’m here to really think about the changes that are going on right now in education,” she said. “Career Services is becoming increasingly important for universities, because higher education is expensive and students and families want to know if there is going to be a return on the investment they made.”

Students who attended the career fair, like junior accounting major Nick Ziegler, went so they could find and secure internship opportunities.

“I’m here to find an internship for the summer and get some experience,” he said. “I want to get my name out there and have people know who I am.”

Employers, on the other hand, looked for students and alumni who genuinely care about their company.

“The number one thing I’m looking for is interest in the company,” said Kathy O’Reilly from Johnson & Johnson. “Number two is that you have the qualifications. We also look for someone who has confidence coming around in the career fair.”

Brad Updegrove, also from Johnson & Johnson, added that the company looks for “talented and motivated people who really have a passion for healthcare.”

Prior to the fair, students had the opportunity to fix up their résumés and get ready for meetings with employers.

“To get students prepared for the career fair, we did a series of different workshops including ‘Utilizing the Career Fair,’ ‘Résumé Reviews’ and ‘Corporate Etiquette,’” said Barberich. “In addition, we had a ‘Résumé Review Blitz Day,’ and the career advisers always offer weekly drop-in counseling.”

The Rider career fair occurs twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.

“The career fair is a great opportunity to showcase our students and our campus to the employers and partner employers,” said Barberich. “It gives students the chance to network and become comfortable with networking. It also gives students the opportunity to work on those skills, and lets them connect with employers and find out about opportunities.”

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