The Daily Gamecock

Career Expo brings job prospects

Tough economy drives students to seek internships

A sea of dark suits, dress shoes, and leather portfolios swarmed the Colonial Life Arena as over 500 business students searched for their dream job.

The Darla Moore School of Business hosted over 50 companies at the annual Business Career Expo on Wednesday and another 70 Thursday. The company turnout is the largest in the Expo’s six-year history, and student attendance shattered that of previous years, reaching a total of over 700 by Thursday.

“We had over 300 students within the first hour,” said Will Coxe , Director of Employer Outreach said. “We are expecting to have over 1,000 students over two days.”

Business undergraduate upperclassmen and graduate students were invited to the Expo where large name companies such as BB&T, Coca-Cola and AT&T hosted information sessions, conducted interviews, and took up resumes.

The record turnout of students can be linked to the failing economy and the fear that graduates will not be able to find jobs once they graduate, in the opinion of fourth year marketing student Thu Thuy Nguyen.

“The economy is the number one thing on business students’ minds,” Nguyen said. “Our class [of 2012] remembers when the economy plummeted and we saw how many of the business students couldn’t find jobs.”

The fear seems to be spreading as graduation approaches. Business students start searching for internships as early as their first year and graduates have limited job options if they have not worked in at least one internship.

In the experience of marketing and global supply chain student Jocelyn Spurrier, who will be graduating this Spring, students have serious difficulty obtaining desirable — if any — job offers.

“I don’t know anyone who got a job out of college without a previous internship,” Spurrier said.

Spurrier, who interned with manufacturing company Hilti, met and networked with company officials to help secure herself a future job.

 While the companies hosted in the Expo are offering full-time positions, the vast majority of available jobs are for interns. Young men and women looking to begin a career are mostly graduate students with multiple internships and impressive resumes under their belts.

Fourth year undergraduates who plan to go straight into the work force with confidence often know the right people within companies.

“There are a lot of top employers here offering up mostly internships,” third year finance student,  Andrew Lynch, said. “I’m not worried about the economy because I’ve already had two internships with major manufacturing companies and I have a lot of contacts.”

But an availability of internships is certainly not a bad thing. Internships are one way students can rise to the top, network within major corporations and learn hands on.

Belden, one of USC’s top full-time employers, hired 11 newly graduated students last year alone and recently funded the multimillion dollar construction of the Belden Room in the new Darla Moore Business School, which opened Thursday.

Belden expects to hire more USC alumni from all programs, including marketing, human resources, public relations, and advertising.

Most other major companies, like Coca-Cola, Duke Energy, and Belk, select up to six students per year primarily for internships or limited specialized full time jobs.

No records are kept on how many students receive jobs or offers from companies they met through the Expo, but the students who attend the career fair are more likely to be offered a position, Coxe said. “Chances like the Expo allow students to meet face to face with companies, which increases the chances significantly of a student getting a job.”