Preview: Oxy Career Fair Spring 2020

A banner advertising the career fair outside of the Branca Family Patio at Occidental College on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. Matt Howard/The Occidental

The Hameetman Career Center (HCC) will host a career fair from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Johnson Student Center (JSC) Quad. According to Jamila Chambers, senior associate director for career education and advising, more than 50 employers will be recruiting on campus, and 13 different graduate schools will also attend. According to the HCC’s website, the career fair is open to students and recent alumni seeking internships, fellowships, graduate programs or full-time professional jobs.

“The career fair is an opportunity for Occidental students to engage with employers that have an interest in meeting Occidental students to discuss full-time career opportunities and internships,” Chambers said.

According to Chambers, the HCC kept the diversity of Occidental’s student population in mind when picking employers.

“We have employers from the private sector, nonprofits and non-governmental organizations, spread across numerous different industries,” Chambers said.

The fair will host a variety of employers, including Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Los Angeles Zoo, DreamWorks Animation, the FBI, San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity and Teach for America.

“What’s really unique about this career fair in particular is that the employers understand that Occidental students have a broad liberal arts education and are engaged and passionate about their academics,” Chambers said.

According to chemistry professor Emmanuelle Despagnet-Ayoub, this aspect of the liberal arts education is very appealing to employers.

“Even if you are a STEMfocused student, you are required to study the humanities and languages,” Despagnet-Ayoub said. “Occidental students are collaborative, effective communicators and develop a variety of soft skills that are useful in the workplace.”

Professor Bissessar Damien discusses the benefits of the career fair in the academic quad at Occidental College Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. Damien is a part-time professor in the physics department. Matt Howard/The Occidental

According to Chambers, the HCC informs employers that although Occidental may not be able to offer the same volume of students as larger schools — such as University of California, Los Angeles or University of Southern California — the quality of students employers will have the opportunity to engage with makes it an attractive environment for them.

“The employers that are coming to the fair consist of a mix of employers that have had a long-term relationship with the college, some that have hired quite a few alumni in the past and some that are brand new to campus,” Chambers said. “The career fair will be an exciting opportunity for students, regardless of class year, to engage face-to-face with employers that have a desire to hire Occidental students in particular.”

According to Chambers, meaningful internships during college provide students with valuable experience that will help them get their first jobs.

“The fair is a one-stop shop for Occidental students to engage with employers face-to-face and make their first contact with employers,” Chambers said.

Lena Sullivan (first year) said she believes the career fair will be useful regardless of whether she finds an opportunity.

“I’m not certain about what I hope to get from the fair, but I think it is a good idea to go and talk to the employers and see what kind of opportunities they offer, even if I’m not planning on taking advantage of them immediately,” Sullivan said. “Maybe I’ll find something to do this summer, but I believe that just getting better acquainted with this kind of event will be helpful.”

Despagnet-Ayoub would like to see more startups at the career fair.

“Local startups should be brought in to offer students internships — maybe not jobs because these companies’ hiring capabilities are smaller than that of larger companies, but at least internships,” Despagnet-Ayoub said.

According to Chambers, the HCC starts preparing for the career fair immediately after the previous fair.

“This career fair has been over a year in the making. And a lot of that preparation has to do with identifying and securing not only the right quantity of employers, but also the right mix of employers that specifically have opportunities that will interest Occidental students,” Chambers said.

According to Chambers, the HCC has offered career education workshops including resume writinginterview preparation workshops and a “Prepare for the Fair” workshop.

Ray Corpus (first year) and Sullivan attended the HCC’s career education workshops to prepare for the fair.

“I attended the HCC’s ‘Resumania’ and interview workshops, where they helped me edit my resume and provided me with tips that helped me get a job at the ICC [Intercultural Community Center],” Corpus said.

According to Chambers, the first 50 students from each class year to arrive at the career fair will receive a special job search-oriented gift from the HCC.