Representatives of 74 employers, including small business owners, not-for-profit leaders, and managers from large corporations, manned booths throughout the Kelley Student Center, meeting with students to accept résumés and talk jobs.
Prospective nursing student Kaylu Hiatt, who is also majoring in psychology, looked for opportunities to develop her skills for her future career. Serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer appealed to her for that reason, but she was keeping her options open.
“Volunteer work stands out on a graduate school applications, while helping me build skills I can apply to my job,” said Hiatt, from Logansport. “It would be nice to be able to find a better-paying job too, especially in my field. This fair gives me a chance to see what is available to help me use what I am learning in class.”
Students, most prepared in business attire, visited employer booths, introducing themselves and checking the options available. Each booth was color coded with purple, white, or red balloons, indicating if they were looking for employees, interns, or volunteers.
Tracy Springer, manager of the career and accessibility center, encouraged them to examine every booth, even if it did not appear to have jobs in their career fields. For example, she said many students were surprised to learn that Kokomo Grain was looking for an IT internship, and they would have missed hearing about it if they hadn’t stopped at that booth.
“There may not be something for you now, but there could be in the future,” she said. “The networking aspect of this fair is crucial. It allows our students to get in front of potential employers and network for positions in the future.”
She was thrilled to have 74 employers attend, up 60 percent from the 2014 fair.
“The word is getting out about our students,” she said. “They’ve seen the quality employees who are earning their degrees on our campus, and graduating ready to contribute.”
Brad Eller, controls engineer group leader from General Motors, Marion, attended the event for the first time, and was pleased to find several potential interns. He noted that many of their interns transition to employment with the company later.
“We like to draw interns from our region if we can,” he said. “The retention rate is better in students from this area.”
Criminal justice students were especially interested in meeting with Jillian Beurer and Lauren Holly, deputy U.S. marshals, to discuss internships in federal law enforcement.
“This is a great opportunity to provide information to students about careers in federal law enforcement,” said Beurer. “We’re always looking for great interns. They get an inside look at how to apply what they’re learned in the classroom to real life, and then can decide if law enforcement is what they want to pursue. It’s great to figure it out now.”
Kyle Grimes, a junior business major, visited to start thinking about jobs after he graduates next year. He also wanted to find a way he could benefit his community.
“I was very pleased by the variety of options today,” he said.
Junior Liana Gurney, from Kokomo, looked for her first internship, in accounting. She thought meeting with people in person would be more beneficial than just filling out an application.
“Employers get to see me in person, and I think that gives me a better chance of being chosen,” she said.
Sandy Comerford, owner of Accessories by Sandy, a small business in Kokomo, hoped to find interns to help her with social media and marketing.
“We need someone with new ideas, and a creative mind,” she said. “An intern could help us with our needs, and finish with a portfolio to show when he or she is looking for a job after graduation. It is good for both of us.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.