Sydney Burfitt (left), a senior liberal studies major, speaks to a store manager from the Shane Company on Oct. 10, 2012, during a job fair at MTSU in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of MTSU)
When it comes to current students and graduates finding internships and employment, Middle Tennessee State University has quite a pipeline to media outlets in Nashville.
“We have a lot of interns and a lot of employees, too,” said Barry Cunningham, business manager for WKRN, which was one of nearly 120 registered organizations that attended the annual Career Development Center job fair Wednesday in Murphy Center. “The (College of Mass Communication) is the closest communication major in our area.”
University officials were hopeful 1,000 students and alumni would attend the fall fair, which was sponsored by Panda Express and featured 10 Fortune 100 companies and nine Fortune 500 or Global 500 companies.
“This is a good fair,” said Bill Fletcher, director of the Career Development Center. “The economy is looking good for graduates. The numbers are looking good: For all of last year, entry-level postings saw a 34.6 percent increase. Certainly, it’s trending in the right direction for college graduates.”
Murfreesboro resident Natalie Miller, who graduated in 2008 with an undergraduate degree in social work, works full time for the state of Tennessee.
She said she is “looking for part-time work to supplement my income.” Miller added that the companies she talked to gave her “job titles to the positions that I was interested in and have given me good feedback on that.”
Baltimore native Matt Sikorski, a first-year industrial and organizational psychology major, said he studied the vendor layout and walked around looking at the setup for the “very specific program, looking for an internship” to meet a practicum requirement.
Dressed in suit and tie, Sikorski met the recommended attire request that can make a first impression a lasting one.
As for some of his peers, wearing jeans and casual clothing, Sikorski said he “wanted to walk up to them, tap them on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, it’s really important to dress to impress the first time you meet someone.’"
"I would not do it in a judgmental way," he said. "My potential human relations placement would be in giving them a bit of advice. I’ve seen people come to career fairs, see how other people are dressed, leave and come back.”
Mechanical engineering graduate student David O’Brien, who is originally from Jackson, Miss., said he was very impressed with the fair.
“There seems to be more choices than years past, a lot of variety — definitely a great opportunity for students,” he said, adding that he had spoken with the TVA, Nissan and Calsonic representatives.
Jill Scobey, associate recruiter for Nashville-based HCA, said students visiting their booth were ”outgoing, introduced themselves, and gave a very strong handshake."
"We’ve seen some good candidates based on the majors we listed," Scobey said. "We have lots of jobs in information technology. Mainly, what we’re looking for is entry level in IT, and I’ve heard that MTSU has good programs, particularly in computer engineering.”
Former Lady Raider volleyball player Oyinlola Oladinni, who is working on a master's degree in biology, said she visited the Aegis and HCA booths and came away “most intrigued by the different programs people are offering now that are along the lines of what I want to do.”
Kevin Campbell and John Wallace, both chiefs with the U.S. Navy recruiting office in Nashville, said they hoped more students and alumni would visit their booth in the final two hours of the fair.
“We’ve been getting more freshmen, that’s good for the student, but the companies want to see more seniors,” Campbell said. “For the military and other companies, we have openings.”
New employers to the fair included Cavalry Logistics, Ingram Content Group, Mass Electric Construction, Nestle USA, the Tennessee House of Representatives, Tyson Foods and United Rentals.
In addition to the Navy, armed services participants included the Tennessee Air National Guard and U.S. Marine Corps.
Governmental agencies participating included the Brentwood, Murfreesboro and Metro Nashville police departments, as well as the U.S. Social Security Administration and the Tennessee Department of Audit.