A Chance for Conversation

As the fall semester Cardinal Job Fair approaches, staff speak about the benefits of the semesterly event.

<p>Employers and students line up in Worthen Arena for the Cardinal Job Fair Sept. 15. All attendees were required to wear masks to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic. <strong>Richard Kann, DN</strong></p>

Employers and students line up in Worthen Arena for the Cardinal Job Fair Sept. 15. All attendees were required to wear masks to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic. Richard Kann, DN

Each semester, the Ball State Career Center hosts the Cardinal Job Fair. With over 180 employers scheduled, current Cardinals and Ball State alumni have the chance to speak with businesses in their search for a job, and potentially a long-term career. 

For the fall 2022 semester, the Cardinal Job Fair is Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. at Worthen Arena. Brandi Swift, coordinator of Employer Relations for the Ball State Career Center, said planning for the event starts six months out, whether that be contacting and securing every employer, ensuring the event doesn’t run alongside any athletic events, posting yard signs, printing flyers and anything in between. 

She said the Career Center does everything possible to make things easy for students while planning the job fair.

On the opposite end of the scale, Robert Tucker III, associate director of Employer Relations & Recruitment Programs for the Career Center, began his position for the Career Center less than a month ago. Though he has been with the department for a short amount of time, Tucker III knows how much time and effort is put in to organize the event, saying the four hour event takes “a few hundred hours” to put together. 

He said the planning never stops. The day after the spring job fair is held, the Career Center starts planning for the fall job fair. That said, Tucker III said the resulting opportunity to host over 180 employers at the Cardinal Job Fair is huge for those hoping to find a job. 

“To be able to say, ‘Hey, I was able to have the opportunity to be with 180 employers,’ that's an opportunity that's pretty rare,” Tucker III said. “Think about the amount of time it would take a student to connect with potentially 180 employers…what could take days and weeks [at the Cardinal Job Fair] they get the chance to at least have an opportunity to in a few hours of time.” 

Through planning, Tucker III said the Career Center continuously looks for ways to make events such as the Cardinal Job Fair best for those who attend. 

“A big core concept of our Career Center team is making sure we have both the pulse of the students or alumni, but also the employers kind of listening to that feedback just to get a good gauge for what people are looking for,” Tucker III said. “... I think it's always continuous learning: the process of what can we do different, what can be more efficient, what better fits students needs, what better fits employer needs and then kind of being the connector of all those things for our future fair.” 

A student talks to employer recruiters at the Cardinal Job Fair in Worthen Arena Sept. 15. 140 employers set up tables to recruit Ball State students at the fall 2021 fair. Richard Kann, DN

As a Ball State employee of seven years, Swift described the Cardinal Job Fair as “an excellent networking opportunity for Ball State students and alumni to come with upwards of 180 employers from a very diverse pool.” Swift said the event is most important to the university and its students/alumni because, in a way, it almost rewards them for their time spent as a Cardinal. 

“Oh my goodness, the return on investment,” Swift said. “Students spend four years of their time here at university. The long term goal of that is to snag the right job at the end. I think this is an opportunity to do just that.” 

According to the Ball State Career Center’s website, some statistics are presented to highlight the importance and results of the Cardinal Job Fair. 

  • “Nearly 2,000 job candidates representing every field of study are highly qualified, experienced and interview-ready.

  • Ball State University representatives are on-site to answer any questions and facilitate connections and follow-ups.

  • The Cardinal Job Fair contributes to Ball State University's 93 percent career placement rate — a leading percentage among comparative schools.”

According to Jim McAtee, the assistant vice president and executive director for career and professional development for the Career Center, Ball State’s job placement rate has been between 91 and 95 percent. Not only that, but McAtee said of the 180 plus employers at the job fair, approximately 91 percent of them look to recruit students of multiple or all majors. 

Tucker III said he believes the Cardinal Job Fair’s continuous success is due to the ability of students and alumni to create one-on-one relationships with employers. 

“At the end of the day, it's a great opportunity for our students or alumni to have a face-to-face conversation,” Tucker III said. “Not having to go through a website or apply online directly, having the chance to do an on-site interview the day after, this career fair really gives our students a leg up, maybe compared to others that maybe don't have this opportunity to at least be able to make a connection.” 

Contact Kyle Smedley with comments via email at kyle.smedley@bsu.edu or on Twitter @smedley1932.


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