The Daily Gamecock

130 employers visit USC for Career Fest

Director: Career Fest participation increases 34 percent from last year

Over 1,000 aspiring professionals across many areas of study congregated in the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center Wednesday with hopes of finding their dream job.

Over 130 businesses — searching for students to fill internships, co-ops and full time positions — participated in the Career Fest this year, a 34 percent increase from 2010, according to event director Tom Halasz. The Fest was broken into two sections: Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) and the nontechnical Career Fair.

Major companies such as Milliken, Boeing, Frito-Lay and first-year attendee CNN were just a few highlights of SET. More retail-oriented businesses featured on the nontechnical side included Wells Fargo, BMW and Amazon.

“Employers are looking for students to interview for a variety of positions,” Halasz said. “Some companies are definitely going to hire, while others aren’t quite sure what they are after yet.”

Halasz said students have a much better chance of securing a full-time job after college if they are willing to participate in career fairs and expose themselves to companies. He said internships and co-ops are critical to student success and students will find it very difficult ­— if not impossible — to find a full-time position with no hands-on experience. Students who have worked hard will have few problems finding a stable career, Halasz said.

“All of us in the Career Center believe that the economy is bottomed out and is starting to come back around,” Halasz said. “We’re seeing an increase in employment and more companies are coming to our [career fairs] to find great kids to work for them.”

All students were welcomed to register for the Fest and many companies noted the particularly excellent qualifications and achievements of students in attendance.

Broadcasting company CNN seemed particularly impressed with the high caliber of Carolina students.

“We have already signed two people up that are extremely qualified candidates but are a couple of years away from graduation,” said Don Holcombe, an engineering manager for CNN. “I’m very impressed by the University of South Carolina and all the students here. We will recruit at this campus without a doubt from now on.”

Holcombe said that he will save the resumes of candidates who he believes will be good additions to CNN and will be likely to hire them upon graduation.

He said the broadcasting company was convinced by USC officials to recruit students for positions from mechanical engineering to journalism on the promise that Carolina graduates will increase the success of the company.

“I definitely believe it,” Holcombe said.

The department store Kohl’s said it is also continually impressed by employees from USC and hires more students from Carolina than they do any other university in the country.

Fourth-year finance student Steven Hengehold turned in his resume to several companies and, within a couple hours, was approached by a company representative for a formal interview.

“It was intimidating at first,” he said. “But you realize a lot of the company representatives are young people like us.”