Nov. 6,2006 -- While the John Paul Jones Arena will host its very first U.Va. basketball game in just over a week, it featured a different type of debut on Thursday, albeit with some exciting one-on-one matchups. More than 1,200 students from U.Va. and across Virginia and beyond showed up for the 2006 Diversity Career Day, the first time the arena hosted a job fair. The hardwood floor was alive with the game of networking — handshakes, introductions and the exchange of company literature and resumes between the students and some 400 recruiters from 150 organizations. The new arena space enabled the 23rd annual Diversity Career Day to be larger than ever, and more than 300 of the job-seeking students had traveled from out of state, primarily from the Washington, D.C. area.
Both employers and job seekers spoke enthusiastically about the event.
Karthic Raman, a recruiter for the Pittsburgh-based Coro Center for Civic Leadership said he prefers regional fairs like this one, which drew students not only from the Charlottesville area, but from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and Old Dominion University and Norfolk State in Norfolk among others, rather than fairs that include only the students of the hosting institution. “I’m looking for not just people right out of undergrad,” Raman said. A regional career fair like this brings out people with a variety of experiences, students with advanced degrees and those who have already graduated and are typically harder to connect with, he explained. The event also brought together a variety of employers, so there was “something for everyone,” he said.
Robert Amanfu, a U.Va. fourth-year biomedical engineering major originally from Ghana, commented, “Everyone was really friendly. They were trying to help us out, rather than us having to impress them.” Christopher McMichael, a third-year economics major, agreed with Amanfu, saying, “It was one of the best experiences I’ve had at U.Va. in terms of career development.”
Two recruiters from the Fairfax County Public Schools, principal Roberto Pamas and assistant principal Carlton Carter, were impressed with the U.Va. students and the event. “For both of us who have gone out to recruit many times,” Pamas said, “we like U.Va. because it offers us a lot of diversity. Just like the name suggested, we see a lot of students from diverse backgrounds, both educationally and ethnically, who we can certainly hire to use as models for students in the public school setting…Based on what we have seen in the caliber and the quality of the candidates, I think U.Va. did an outstanding job in preparing them.”
Pamas went on, “The fair was set up very well. Very organized. This was our first time here and we will certainly recommend to our human resources department to return.”
Third-year Jing Luo, a transfer student now in the McIntire School of Commerce, was smiling ear to ear on her way out of the event, excited about the job search tips she learned from the recruiters for investment bank J.P. Morgan. They told her that at the final stage of the application process the pool of applicants all have great grades, great extracurricular activities and great personalities. So at that point, what distinguishes the candidates is their passion about the particular job for which they have applied. The recruiters also recommended that she follow the current dealings of the firm by reading financial newspapers. Jing acknowledged, with some exasperation, that even though she is already skimming the financial papers daily, and has lots of textbook reading to do, she now needs to read even more.
Amidst all the positive feedback about the event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Valynda Williams, a senior majoring in economics at Radford University who had driven two hours to attend, had one discontent: “They could have made it an hour longer.”