Limited space in the Statler Hotel forced students to line up outside, waiting to enter Tuesday's career fair.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Limited space in the Statler Hotel forced students to line up outside, waiting to enter Tuesday's career fair.

August 30, 2016

Students Say Early, ‘Cramped’ Career Fair Damaged Networking Efforts

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Dressed in business casual, over 300 students formed long lines outside the Statler Hotel yesterday afternoon, hoping to gain entrance to the first day of Cornell’s Career Fair.

The career fair’s relocation and early date — the event typically occurs in September, in Barton Hall — are “absolutely related” to Barton’s closure this semester for construction, according to Cornell Career Services Executive Director Rebecca Sparrow.

“We looked into some other opportunities and there were no other facilities that were anywhere near big enough that were available,” Sparrow said. The Statler was only able to host the fair on four days, spread out through this week and next week.

Many students expressed frustration with the new venue’s space constraints, which limited the number of students who could be inside the building and restricted companies to one day of attendance with three representatives each.

“The administration did not clearly communicate these limitations, which essentially left many students ill informed regarding which days they should or could attend,” said Leslie Park ’18, who waited outside the Statler for an hour and a half but was not allowed to enter.

Shayra Kamal ’18 — who was also unable to enter — agreed with Park, adding that “most students in line looked stressed, or were complaining about the location change to Statler or were worried about [not having] enough time to interact with recruiters.”

Career Services provided priority tickets for Wednesday’s career fair to students who lined up but could not participate in the event today, according to Sparrow. Organizers also collected resumes to send to employers that students were unable to meet.

Park argued that despite these efforts, students were still denied the ability to network in person.

“This does not address the issue that these students missed the opportunity to personally connect with employers attending today’s career fair,” Park said.

Limited space in the Statler Hotel forced students to line up outside, waiting to enter the career fair.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Students said that overcrowding at the career fair decreased their opportunities to network with employers.

Despite these limitations, company attendance at the fair only decreased “a little bit, but not appreciably,” Sparrow said.

“In terms of recruiting, we’re still seeing the same level of interest in posting jobs and arranging interviews,” she said.

However, due to the career fair’s scheduling issues, some companies — including Goldman Sachs — will conduct their first-round interviews virtually rather than on campus, according to Sparrow.

Sparrow added that Career Services provides students with free rooms in Barnes Hall where they can conduct these remote interviews.

“When students have those scheduled, they can come see us about doing them there instead of in their dorm room or apartment,” she said.

The increased time between the fair also gives students more time for interview practice, Sparrow said.

“Doing it early meant that we didn’t have as much time in advance to help students prepare their resumes, but the upside of that is that we have more time now between the career fair and interviews to help students prepare for interviews,” she said.

Brooke Saccoccio, a recruiter representing TripAdvisor at yesterday’s fair, said that although the venue was “definitely a lot more cramped,” she believes the change in timing only affected the company’s ability to reach out to students prior to the event.

“I think it hurt the students more than it hurt us,” Saccoccio said.

  • NW

    That’s just unacceptable! This is the first stepping stone (and only on campus event) for the students to get a first meeting with potential employers and to see whose hiring and what they are looking for. It is something that Cornell was talking about at every opportunity to me and my child while we were scouting schools. I am sure there are other possiblities and options to host this event if one would just brainstorm a bit more . I could imagine each college hosting a fair specific for those fields of interest instead of grouping so many together, for example, or even outside under tents. It doesn’t look so good for potential employers that might want to recruit from Cornell if the college can’t get it together.

  • Reality Check

    Why couldn’t the career-fair activity have been conducted in Bartels Hall, which is as big as Barton. Maybe the consequence of new hires and open positions at the top of the student life pyramid. Or maybe just mediocre customer service.

  • Family Fellow Parent

    This is extremely disappointing. Universities need to understand that construction disrupts experience, but particularly when an experience is important, as career placements are, advance planning is key to assure that student experience is not significantly altered.

    Cornell receives a BIG RED FAIL on this assessment. They need to start today to add additional events to address their poor showing. They need to communicate these additional efforts to both students and parents for the classes of ’17 and ’18.

  • acturg

    What a mess.
    Cornell … how can you not find a more spacious venue?
    The students should hold a protest. They won’t though because they obey the law … unlike some of the other absurd groups on campus.

    If this was a number 1 priority you would have done something different … am sure if it was a political rally you would have found a larger venue.

    Get your priorities straight … it is the students and their families that make Cornell … not the administration and certainly not the Deans of Sustainability and Gender Transference or whatever other esoteric cause you are pursuing.

    Plain and simple … help these incredible students (and indirectly their parents who sacrifice more than you realize to pay for their student’s education) find careers where they can showcase just how talented Cornell students are.

  • Student

    I waited in line for 3 hours, skipped class, and still could not enter the career fair. Worst of all, I now am left unable to make valuable connections and meet with companies that I am interested in. Cornell, for the amount students pay to attend, you have a moral obligation to provide resources and this year you have failed your students.

    • NW

      I do not understand why they do this during the WEEK when students have class! I truly hope the University assess the situation and responds to the terrible preparation on their part with an open apology to the students, and finds a solution as well as hosting another Job Fair possibly in the winter. Again, what must the potential employers think of such a prestigious University that can’t get something this important for it’s students and potential employees together in an orderly, meaningful way. As an invested parent, I am hoping to hear from the University on how they will handle this.

      • Alumn

        They certainly won’t hold the career fair on a weekend. Companies aren’t going to ask their employees to work on a weekend and you shouldn’t expect recruiters to come talk to students on a weekend either.

        • Student

          That may be, but I think a better solution would be to give students the day off for the career fair. (MIT does this, and it seems to work well for them.)

  • Student

    Speaking as a current student who has already accepted a post-graduation job offer from my summer internship, I feel incredibly lucky that this year’s career fair was not crucial for me. I did stop by my employer’s booth to help out for a bit, and the recruiter literally told me it was the worst career fair he had ever been to. This was a disaster, and Cornell needs to give students another opportunity to make these connections later in the academic year. I would be devastated if I were graduating and this had been my one chance to meet with recruiters.

  • Robbed Senior

    In my time at Cornell, the career fair was a fantastic event in which students and potential employers could network, getting thei feet in the doors of opportunity. As a member of the class of 2017, I could not help but feel as though I was robbed of this experience. In terms of literal floor space, Statler was a fantastic venue that catered to these company recruiters who stayed in a wonderful and internationally recognized hotel. Logically, when spaced out over four days, it should have served as a sufficient replacement for Barton. However, the objectively poor planning showed as soon as the room capacities were hit, when staff was being scrambled to regulate entry from both the hotel and library side, and on-the-fly decisions were being made on queues and entry into the ballrooms (see: the Pennsylvania and Yale/Princeton ballrooms on the first floor).

    I do not believe Rebecca Sparrow for one second when she claims there were no other facilities available. An outdoor location on the arts quad, a convenient walk for recruiters staying at the Statler Hotel, along with tents set up for the event would have been more than enough. The argument could be made that an outdoor location would have holes in which students could skip the queues and go in. The counter argument to this, however, is that Barton had just as many holes in which students were able to enter without checking in first (I recall my freshman year when I did exactly this). Fencing, similar to how Slope Day is set up, could be set up to greatly reduce this problem.

    Let’s not pretend that the career fair is some low-key event that few students attend. Cornell knows this career fair is important institutionally in order to continue important partnerships and relationships that benefit the bottom line. Then, let’s also not pretend that this career fair is for the students’ benefits. This year’s career fair showed just how many students were disenfranchised from the same networking opportunities that were given to students for many years prior. Had Cornell truly intended for this career fair to be for the students, then I am shocked that they did not make this the big event it is in many students’ minds and the big event it truly is supposed to be (as it is in many state schools and the other ivies…). When the event was held in Barton, it was perfect for recruiters as it was in the backyard of Statler. For Cornell, it was the perfect set up that satisfied their invited companies and the students. Now that Cornell was forced to relocate, they have decided to sacrifice their students for the sake of their corporate relationships.

    Students have much more power to make demands than they realize, and I hope some actions and decisions can be made in light of this disastrous career fair that will have a sincere impact.

  • Massfats

    Complete disgrace. More and more, I’m questioning the decision to send my son to this school. They KNOW how many students are expected, and still couldn’t plan accordingly? And on a campus that big, there were NO OTHER options? In the corporate world, somebody would be fired over this. What an embarrassment to Cornell and its administration. Agree that tents should have been considered; professional event managers would have made that work. And BTW, don’t assume all those recruiters stayed at The Statler and were happy to “just walk down.” Not true, many stayed elsewhere. BTW #2: Cornell owes the recruiters an apology, too.

  • Will

    FYI, Goldman Sachs having their first round interviews done virtually has nothing to do with Cornell. They changed their recruitment process for this year, firm-wide, to have all first round interviews be a video interview.

  • Alumni

    “Doing it early meant that we didn’t have as much time in advance to help students prepare their resumes, but the upside of that is that we have more time now between the career fair and interviews to help students prepare for interviews,” said Rebbecca Sparrow

    Great there is more time to prepare for interviews. But, preparing for an interview isn’t like preparing for the LSAT/GMAT/MCAT. It takes a night or two at the most, if that. Plus, more time for preparation means nothing if students are’t able to earn interviews because they weren’t given a chance to meet any employers. What a joke Student’s pay Cornell an unfathomable amount of money to gain success in the real world and Cornell screws over the students. It’s embarrassing.

  • Veronica

    I went both today and yesterday; both were massive disappointments. I’m absolutely shocked by how horribly it was designed — honestly, probably the most aggravating experience I’ve had yet at Cornell. I spent over 4 hours on Monday night preparing for the networking, and I spent more than 3 hours in the line on Tuesday, so I had a maximum of 40 minutes inside the actual building to speak to recruiters. Today I got there at 10:30am just to try to beat at least part of the wait (since doors opened at 12) and STILL had to wait 3 hours, plus go through the lines inside! What did Career Services think was going to happen with such a small venue and strict fire code requirements?

    The most frustrating part of the whole experience is that I feel there is no way to petition or criticize Career Services, even though they did such a poor job choosing the venue. In fact, Rebecca Sparrow DID NOT EVEN APOLOGIZE on behalf of Career Services for wasting hours upon hours of students’ time. It’s as if we as students have to accept this kind of behavior or else get our privileges and access to recruiters revoked. Ridiculous.

  • Young Alum

    If for all the staff and exorbitant budget career services is too stupid to set up tents on the various major quads on campus to augment the indoor space or put all the fancy atriums we have to good use, somebody should be fired for pulling this shit. I know I’d be pretty pissed off if I was still a student. It’s not like they were competent or helpful in any way when I needed them, but at least I could go to some legit recruiting events.

    • Young Alum

      We shouldn’t have to do this, but maybe we should reach out to current students to help them network with our companies. This can turn into a real disaster for a lot of people who worked hard and did everything right like I did but got shafted by Cornell’s bullshit as usual administrative practices that are a large part of the absurd cost of attendance.

  • Grad Student

    This is simply a disaster. I went to there yesterday on 12:30 and waited 2 hours to just get in. I saw the line is even longer today. What is even worse is that neither Sparrow nor the Career Service realizes this is a BIG PROBLEM at all. They even joked that “we have more time now between the career fair and interviews to help students prepare for interviews”! What a shame! They literally needs to be fired. PERIOD. I have no doubt there are people in Cornell can do this job better than they did!.

  • Anderson

    Rebecca Sparrow should be held accountable for this fiasco. I am sure if it had been a social event she would have found the space. There was no pre-planning involved. Tents on the Arts quad, even Lynah Rink would have been a better alternative. Did it make her day to see so many students in line around Uris Hall trying to get into something that a community college could have so expertly plan? This top heavy university need to understand that students need jobs to contribute to alumni fund drive and other solicitations that keep the University thriving. We need an explanation as to why this happened. The timing is not the excuse, incompetence was the reason.

  • Mark

    To all – check out Sparrow’s pathetic excuses in her letter to the editor.