Thousands of UConn students attended the annual fall career fair at Gampel Pavilion this month for the opportunity to meet with nearly 300 actively recruiting employers.
A total of 285 employers and 3,553 students attended the career fair over the course of two days, making it the most successful one yet, according to Jim Lowe, the Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director of the UConn Center for Career Development. Lowe said he couldn’t be more pleased with this year’s turnout.
“It was just busy the whole time,” says Lowe. “The other good news about it is the caliber of the employers and the types of jobs that they had for our students, so on all levels we had the right employers, the students showed up, the employers were thrilled, and we got a lot of very positive feedback from the students.”
On Tuesday, all types of employers were welcome for the all-university career fair, while Wednesday’s fair was limited to STEM career fields. Although the fair was located at UConn Storrs, students from all campuses and of all majors and academic standings could come and explore their career interests by meeting with a variety of employers face-to-face.
Lowe says the main goal of the career fair is to connect students with employers. “It’s not only for full-time jobs, it’s for internships as well,” Lowe says. “We always say that first-year students should come because they can meet with an employer and start up a relationship that turns into an internship the following year. It’s all about really engaging students and connecting them with the employer community for meaningful jobs here in Connecticut.”
Present employers were either Connecticut-based or headquartered elsewhere with a presence in the state, according to Lowe. Even if students who attended aren’t from Connecticut, the fair is still a useful resource for help with internship or job searches and post-graduation plans, which can be daunting to navigate without any guidance.
“I’m graduating in December, so I was just interested in getting my foot in the door a little bit and start talking to people because being out in the world is coming up pretty soon,” says economics major Riley Hawkes ’24 (CLAS).
Srihas Dama ’25 (ENG), a computer science major, also saw the event as a chance to get a head start on his future career. “I attended the career fair because I wanted to network and make connections and see what companies were hiring from UConn,” says Dama.
While the career fair is a great starting point for the job search process, it is also a fantastic way to sharpen useful professional skills, according to both students.
“If anything, even if none of [the employers] contact me back, it’s just the experience of talking to people and kind of representing yourself and just being interested in the different things that people can offer you and being an active listener,” says Hawkes.
“This is the perfect place to show and practice your soft skills,” says Dama, who strongly recommended that any UConn students who haven’t gone to a career fair yet attend one in the future.
Attracting more students to future fall career fairs won’t be a problem, Lowe says. He attributes the record-breaking numbers at this fall’s fair to the Center for Career Development’s strong multi-platform marketing strategy. “We could have the best programs in the world, but if students don’t know about them, they’re not going to come,” Lowe says, emphasizing the growth and success of the center’s social media marketing efforts. “Our social media presence by far exceeds what we had three or four years ago.”
As for attracting employers, Lowe says the center strives to achieve as much variety as possible, but this depends on how companies recruit as well as time and space constraints. “You have to look at the company and figure out how do they hire and how do they get their talent, and for some of them the career fair is really the best way to do it,” he says. “We are pretty selective because we only do the career fair seven times a year and we only have so much space to do them. Ten years ago, we were holding them in the Student Union, and we would have 60 employers for the fall fair. Now we have 300. It really is a Herculean effort to get it all pulled together.”
The Center for Career Development will host another career fair in Storrs during the spring at a smaller capacity. However, Lowe says there is little need to do anything differently in terms of planning these types of events. “I think we’re where we need to be. Other institutions actually regularly reach out to us when they hear about our success with these things,” he says. Lowe adds that the center is regularly recognized by the National Association of Colleges and Employers for innovative programs. “We’re at a point where we’re best in show for career services nationwide and recognized as one of the top career centers in the country.”