The sputtering economy had a visible impact on the Just In Time Hiring and Internship Fair held Wednesday on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus.
The annual fair is organized by CU’s Career Services office and was open to all students and alumni. Only employers who have available summer internships or full-time job openings were invited to attend.
Yet of the 88 booth openings, only 50 were claimed by employers this year. That’s a 33 percent decrease from last year, and the lowest turnout the fair has ever had.
Suzy Shotts, Career Services’ event logistics coordinator, points to a slow job market as a reason for the decreased turnout.
“You know, many employers aren’t hiring and some of the employers who come in from out of state can’t afford to come in this year,” Shotts said. “I think it’s just the economy.”
Another indicator of the high unemployment rate at the fair was the increased number of alumni on hand.
“We’re seeing a lot more alums come in,” Shotts said. “We just hired an alumni counselor. Our services are free now to alums and they’re using it.”
Matthew Howard, who graduated with an engineering degree in 2009, was optimistic about the fair’s impact on his own job search.
“This is a smaller career fair. There are not many engineering firms here, but it’s been good,” Howard said. “It’s a good way to build some confidence, get in the suit and meet some people.”
Shotts emphasized the importance of the job fair as ways for people to get on employers’ radar regardless of whether they are offered a position.
“Students should come even as freshmen to look for jobs and internships just to see what it’s like,” Shotts said. “Go to panels, do some networking — anything to get in the door.”
The companies in attendance ran the gamut from juggernauts Microsoft and Northwestern Mutual Financial to smaller companies such as regional gas station and convenience store chain Kum and Go and local company Five Rings Financial.
“Obviously the market out there is still a little slow so there’s a lot of interest,” said Five Rings Financial recruiter Marie O’Rahilly. “We’re actually setting up interviews, so we’ve had a great response.”
Representatives from the local offices of Microsoft were excited to be on hand with job openings to offer, after having none when they attended the last career fair in January. They said they want to build a strong relationship with university, especially the computer sciences department.
“Here in particular we’ve had some growth. Which is hopefully a sign of better things to come,” said Microsoft representative Mike Harrell.
CU junior Michael Badaracca said he made some promising contacts in the hour he spent at Wednesday’s event.
“There was a good handful of companies I’m interested in here,” Badaracca said. “For being like a last-minute fair, I thought it was pretty good.”