University News

Companies in common good diversify career opportunities

Separate fair for careers in the common good expands offerings beyond nonprofits

University News Editor
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Employers from 81 organizations will ascend College Hill Wednesday at noon to recruit students for summer internships and full-time jobs. The event includes a general career fair in Sayles Hall and a fair for opportunities in nonprofit and service sectors in the Kasper Multipurpose Room.

This marks the third consecutive year the University has organized a separate fair for careers in the common good, though it has previously been billed as an event only for nonprofits, said Jim Amspacher, interim director of career services. Forty-one organizations will participate in the event — one more than the count for the general fair.

“You don’t have to be a nonprofit to do good work,” Amspacher added, noting that “common good” casts a wider net than nonprofit, enabling the University to invite a greater number of companies that orient toward social change.

The University’s decision to provide an alternative venue expressly for careers in the common good fits into a national trend in college career services’ approach to campus recruitment events, Amspacher said, adding that career offices have turned toward specialized fairs in order to drum up student interest.

By holding the common good fair, the University can facilitate successful job searches for students intent on positions in that field, and also “send a strong message to employers that Brown students are interested in internships and jobs that make an impact,” he said.

Additionally, the common good fair may dilute the usually high concentration of recruiters from lucrative industries, such as technology, finance and consulting, and will difersify opportunities for students who may not be interested in those fields.

“It’s good that they’re expanding into other industries,” said Kat Hsu ’17, adding that students often ask themselves, “If I don’t code, I’m not an engineer and I don’t want to do banking, how am I going to find an internship?”

But some students still feel that the career fairs do not cover their professional interests. Sam Hill-Cristol ’17, who intends to concentrate in environmental studies, said he does not plan to attend the event because he doubts participating would be particularly productive for his job search. Instead, Hill-Cristol may go to an all-Ivy environmental sustainability and development fair at Columbia — organized in part by Brown — later this month, he said.

But students need not travel to New York to explore opportunities outside the most popular industries for recruitment, Amspacher said.

“Students interested in education, the arts, activism, international development, service, public health, the environment, affordable housing, microfinance and immigration should come to the fair, because they’re all covered tomorrow,” he added.

Both Hill-Cristol and Hsu also mentioned that the intimidating prospect of approaching potential employers with a resume may deter students from attending the fair.

Because Amspacher and his colleagues at CareerLAB have heard that concern before, CareerLAB offers workshops and makes preparatory materials available online and in print, he said.

Alums’ presence among the recruiters Wednesday might also mitigate students’ trepidation in approaching them, Amspacher said, adding that 39 alums will join the general career fair and 14 will join the common good fair. Alums will be distinguished by a ribbon on their nametags.

For students who do not have time to prepare before the event, Amspacher offered a sentence-long crash course: “Dress business casual, grab the guide at the front door … take a couple minutes to read it, walk up to the table, introduce yourself and ask some questions. And make sure you get the rep’s contact info so you can follow up.”

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