Students gathered in Sayles Hall Wednesday for the sixth annual Common Good Internship and Job Fair. Hosted by CareerLAB, the event aimed to connect students with employment and internship opportunities in the nonprofit, education and public service sectors.
Forty-eight employers hiring for jobs and internships in fields such as entrepreneurship, education and grassroots activism, among others, attended the event, said Jim Amspacher, director of the Careers in the Common Good project at CareerLAB.
This year, the University consolidated the Swearer Center’s Community Engagement Fair with CareerLAB’s Common Good Fair by featuring 14 Community Corps Partners — local organizations that Brown students can volunteer with through the Swearer Center — at the event, Amspacher said.
“The Swearer Center (has) always been a partner for the Common Good project (and) always helped guide community partners to participate in the Common Good Internship and Job Fair,” he said. “This year, we took it a step further. … Not only have they encouraged folks to attend, but (the Swearer Center) arranged it so Community Corps Partners (had) tables at the Career Fair” to recruit volunteers for work-study and summer internships, Amspacher added. “We are really excited to have them here.”
One featured Community Corps Partner was Self Expression for Adults with Developmental Disabilities. SEADD works with the Blackstone Valley ARC, another organization that facilitates creative writing and expressive workshops for adults with disabilities, said Eva Kitlen, a fair representative for SEADD. Kitlen found the consolidation of the Community Engagement Fair and the Common Good Fair to be helpful because “a lot of people are interested in both,” she said. In particular, SEADD is looking for “people who are excited to connect with (others), … facilitate the empowerment of people with disabilities (and) make a positive change.”
Demand for the event arose since “so many students want to be pursuing jobs and internships in the common good,” said Matthew Donato, director of CareerLAB. “It is important to bring these type of employers back to campus.”
Among the class of 2017, 28 percent of students seeking employment chose nonprofit or government work, Amspacher said. But “pathways into non-profit and government work are not always as clear as they are for some of the bigger industries like consulting, finance or tech,” he added. “One of the roles of the Common Good project is to help build more of those paths, and having these (employers) come to the Common Good Internship and Job Fair is one of the ways we do that,” he said.
Students’ reactions toward the Common Good Fair were positive. “There were some really wonderful organizations and people so passionate about the work that they do, so it was really nice to get to talk to them,” said Rim Haile ’19, a Health and Human Biology concentrator who wants to work with children after graduation. “This just interested me more” than the Spring Career Fair, she said. The Spring Career Fair took place Jan. 29.
Evan Dong ’22, who attended the Spring Career Fair, said it was “at least half tech companies, probably more, … which was a little intimidating for a first year student who is not really necessarily sure what they want (for) themselves.”
But, the Common Good Fair made him feel less like he was “selling out” to companies. “It is directed more toward a different type of (audience): common good, nonprofit, (fewer) paid positions. I like it,” he added.
“The employers that have a lot of resources in the bigger industries like consulting, finance and tech have the money and resources to make a bigger splash,” said Amspacher. “Students are excited that we’ve created this space and this opportunity for employers that don’t have as many resources.”
Despite the recent success of the Common Good Internship and Job Fair, the number of employers and opportunities at career fairs are only a “tiny fraction of all opportunities available, both in the common good space and other spaces,” Donato said.
“If you think that you are going to get a job from (a) career fair, that’s usually not what the purpose of it is,” he said. “The purpose is to make a connection and to start learning how to research and find opportunities that you are most interested in. This is just one way to do it.”