Students see opportunity, seek new horizons at Fall Career Fest

By: Various
Sep 29, 2016
Attendees at the Fall Career Fest
The Fall Career Fest was held Sept. 22 at Jonas T. Kennedy Center. (Panther photo by Jordan Geddis)

Connecting with law enforcement


With everything going on in the country right now relating to police and their relationship with African-Americans, it may have been surprising that law enforcement recruiters were a major presence at the Claflin Career Fest on Sept. 22.

Of note, the majority of those in law enforcement at the HBCU event were either of African-American descent or a minority.

“I expected a decent turnout despite everything that has been going on,” an African-American Orangeburg police officer said. “You don’t see a lot of police officers that look like us, and who better to change the situation than us.”

More than 30 businesses were gathered for Claflin’s Career Fest -- and about 10 were law enforcement. Those presenting career information to students included the Durham, N.C., Police Department, FBI, Greenville Police Department, Greenville County Sheriff’s Department, Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department in Charlotte, N.C., South Carolina Highway Patrol, and Orangeburg Department of Public Safety.

 Racial tension, riots, marches and even protests are going on all across the nation over police violence against African-Americans.

“I joined because I wanted to make a difference,” a Mecklenburg County detention officer said. “I started off working in the courthouse but my ultimate goal was to work for law enforcement.”

She said she attended an HBCU, so she feels personally connected in coming out and meeting with students at Claflin and other HBCUs.

Another Orangeburg police officer said in order to find out what the truth is when it comes to law enforcement, students should ask questions.

“Be the change you wish to see. If you see us [African-Americans] out here, then you can see the change. That’s why I joined,” he said.

Connecting with TV and radio


Claflin University gave students the chance to gauge their career interests at the annual Fall Career Fest on Sept. 22.

Many students took advantage of the opportunity to talk to representatives from the different companies about internships and future job opportunities.

One was sophomore Valaya Burke, a mass communications major looking for a career in radio and entertainment.

“I just want insight into jobs and everything for my future,” Burke said. “I want more information on the steps I need to take in order to get to where I want to be.”

The event had about 20 different companies in attendance, but for Burke, one stood out.

“ABC Columbia, because that’s pretty much right up my ally of what I want to do, she said. “And it’s very appealing because they deal with TV and they deal with radio and that’s something I want to get into.”

Like many of her fellow students, Valaya wanted to gain more from the career fair than just brochures and other souvenirs.

“I plan to probably take on internships in order to gain more knowledge of what I want to do and prepare me further for my career in the future.” 


Freshman ‘learning a lot’


On Thursday, September 22, Jonas T. Kennedy Center was filled with students of all classifications for Claflin University’s Fall Career Fest.

The event allows students to make connections and receive information on internships and career opportunities from different companies. Hundreds of students had their resumes in hand and were ready to network and participate in interview sessions.

“I’m really learning a lot,” freshman Asante Hawkins said. “I don’t have much on my resume now, so I was a little embarrassed to even bring it.”

Hawkins said she didn’t know what to expect from the event and her goal was just to collect information and brochures.

“I actually saw students sitting down with employers and having long conversations,” she said. “I even noticed one guy with a portfolio and business cards.”

Hawkins said that as an 18-year-old freshman, she doesn’t have a clear idea of what she wants to do in the future.

“Right now, my major is sociology.” Hawkins said. “But I think it may change. I received a lot of interesting information from the FBI, the sheriff’s department and the U.S. Army. From those conversations, I’m doing a lot more thinking about my major and future career.”


An eye on teaching


Claflin University held its Fall Career Fest on Sept. 22 in the Tullis Arena at the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center.

“There wasn’t a lot of tables catered to my specific major; however, my education aspect helped me find a table of interest,” one Claflin student said.

Anissa Jackson, a sophomore, attended the fest and appeared satisfied with the information she received.

“I got there like around 11:20 am, so there were a good amount of other students in the gymnasium,” Jackson said. The two tables that interested Jackson the most were Teach for America (TFA) and City Year.

Teach for America is for certified educators to teach at low-income schools and help with course subjects. So if a student were a certified educator in music education, like Jackson, they would still be able to teach courses like math and reading.

“I took interest in Teach for America because you can work with the organization within your junior year of college,” Jackson said.

City Year is a mentoring program that encourages students to take a break between getting out of college and graduate school. Students can also receive scholarships from participating in the program.

“What caught my eye with City Year was that it allows you to take a moment to think about what you really want to do, but you’re still working at the same time, Jackson said.


‘You had better be early for a career fair or else’


Students gathered at Claflin University’s Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center on Sept. 22 for the 2016 Fall Career Fair with more than 30 employers represented.

The event gave students a chance to interact professionally with companies and some of their representatives.

Sophomore Jamal Devine arrived 15 minutes before doors opened. He proceeded inside, where he handled himself like a veteran at the career fair activities.

Devine looked like your average Claflin student in attendance at the fair, dressed in business-appropriate slacks and a collared shirt, but he stood above the rest due to the fact he had prior knowledge on how to work a career fair.

Devine made quick, concise, decisions when it came to the tables he visited, sparking the interest of multiple companies, including the Peace Corps, Scana Corp. and CERRA. All three urged Devine to keep in contact with them via email.

 “Today was good,” Devine said. “This was not my first career fair. Being in the Honors College program, I feel I was better prepared this time around.”

Not all students had the same success.

Fellow Honors College undergraduate Dillon Parker was one. Being dressed properly and prepared was not Parker’s downfall. Indecision put him in a bind with time.

He seemed slightly overwhelmed in the crowded gym and by the time he was able to locate the companies he was interested in, the lines for all the companies were at the very least a 20- to 30-minute wait, which limited Parker to only being able to visit a single company due to class obligations.

“There wasn’t much recruiting going on. They wouldn’t even accept resumes,” Parker said, his story indicating a much different result than Devine’s.

“I learned this much. You had better be early for a career fair or else,” Parker said.


‘You want a challenge?’


The U.S. Marine Corps did some recruiting at Claflin’s annual Fall Career Fest.

The Marines were one of many organizations represented at the Sept. 22 event held in Tullis Arena.

"We are looking for pilots to fly the planes," a Marine official said in pointing out that all positions do not relate to combat. He cited finance and police as examples.

But leadership is a quality in all Marines, he said. Marines are looking for someone who can lead. "You could be asked to lead a group of 30 to 40 people.”

The Marines will challenge you and make you feel good about earning everything, GySgt Denell E. Rivers said.

"You want a challenge?" Rivers asked.

Other companies represented at the career fest were:

  • CVS/Pharmacy
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Savannah River Nuclear Solutions
  • ABC Columbia WOLO TV

The CVS representative informed students that the company is always looking for interns to train and become retail managers.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions gave students a chance to get information on the lab and the company side of the nuclear operation.

The company offers internships to sophomores, juniors and seniors, according to a company official.

"It would be a lot easier to get a job with us if you start out as an intern," the SRNS official said.

Students had mixed emotions about the career fest.

"I still don't know what I want to do with my major, so I'm hoping the career fest will help," freshman Isaiah Freeman said.

"I want to know how the companies can benefit me and how I can position myself to get a job," junior Danierian Williams said.

Yet one senior had a good experience.

"I've already applied to one of the police stations in Charlotte and they were helpful with telling me the requirements," Zenobia Bennett said.


‘Honored being here’


Fox 46, the Greenville Police Department, the U.S. Marine Corps, TD Banks and Verizon were just a few vendors at the Claflin Fall Career Fest.

“I feel honored being here at Claflin’s career fair, explaining to the students what it is we actually do and sparking the interest of something upon them is a wonderful feeling,” said Brian Graham from Verizon.

Claflin sophomore Emmanuel Feaster said he enjoyed the career fest. “I want to work in the bank. Having a chance to meet with TD Banks gave me a little more insight about the job.”

Claflin junior Thomas Littles said he was a bit disappointed that the U.S. Navy didn’t show up to join the Marines and the Army. He has always been interested in the Navy.

“This would have been a great chance to learn more,” he said.


Opportunities with Boeing


Boeing, the anchor for South Carolina’s growing aerospace cluster in Charleston, was represented at the Fall Career Fest.

Bobby Downey, a professional mechanic who works with Boeing, said, “I was thoroughly impressed to see so many students come out and seek a great job opportunity when they graduate college.”

Boeing offered graduating students job applications for many different areas of the company. 


Are most Claflin students finding enough options?


Claflin hopes to expand offerings at its annual Fall Career Fest.

“We hope that it grows every year so that we can get more companies to register to be part of the fair,” Michael Pryor said at the Sept. 22 event. Pryor is the academic student support coordinator of the Office of Career Development as well as the one of the main organizers of the fair.

But there were limited options for students in 2016, especially in the social sciences as most companies were looking for the STEM and business majors.

“Being that Claflin is a liberal arts institution, I think it is important that we do get some companies that are into social sciences and humanities,” Pryor said. “We do seek out those kinds of companies, but it is rather difficult.”

“Also we do seek out some Fortune 500 companies. However, due to their full-time schedules and partnerships with specific schools for recruitments, we are working to get Claflin on their list,” Pryor said.

When asked about international students who might not find many options at the fair, Pryor suggested they talk to their advisers as well as their department chairs about opportunities. In addition, they can also stop by the career development office for assistance.

Jamera Stewart, who is a senior as well as a business major, offered a positive review of the career fair.

“Well I really enjoyed the career fair mostly because they have here a lot of opportunities,” Stewart said. “I have had a lot of companies that impressed me as well as I have impressed other companies. This is a good thing Claflin does every year.”


A gymnasium of career opportunity'


Various companies gathered in Claflin University’s gymnasium to provide the student body with a variety of career path opportunities.

Claflin University hosted its Fall Career Fest on Sept. 22 in the Jonas Thomas Kennedy Health and Fitness Gymnasium. 

“Last year we had about 33, this year we have 42,” said Micheal Pryor from Claflin’s Office of Career Development.

The event is an annual professional opportunity provided by Claflin.  Each year students fill the gymnasium with hopes of acquiring jobs and internships. 

“It is a great opportunity for students to seek out internship opportunities as well as full-time employment opportunities,” Pryor said.

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