Students wait outside Uris Hall to enter the Career Fair in Statler Hall on Wednesday.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Students wait outside Uris Hall to enter the Career Fair in Statler Hall on Wednesday.

August 31, 2016

Students Switch Sections, Skip Class for Career Fair

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Students skipped classes, left their T.A. duties and traveled for hours Wednesday morning, hoping for the opportunity to speak to an employer on the second day of the Cornell Career Fair. At the height of the event, the line to enter Statler Hall extended around Uris Hall to the intersection of Tower Road and Garden Avenue.

Some students began lining up as early as 10 a.m. Derek So ’19 said he changed discussion sections Tuesday night so that he could attend the event earlier.

“I checked my schedule and I realized I have lecture and discussion from 10 until 12:55, and I can’t skip those,” So said. “I went on StudentCenter and I literally swapped discussions — I changed my entire semester’s schedule just so that I could be here and wait on line for another three hours.”

Vaidehi Garg ’18, who left her T.A. position early to make it to the line, said students who had to wait were being deprived of more valuable time in class.

“A lot of people are going to be missing classes, and it’s not going to be worth it because you’ll just be on line for three hours,” Garg said.

Fifty students from the Cornell Tech campus — who traveled by bus Wednesday morning to reach Ithaca — were also waiting to speak to employers, according to Travis Holt grad, a student at Cornell Tech.

“We have career fairs as well, but we started classes at the same time as you guys did and we wanted to get the ball rolling,” Holt said. “We weren’t depending on this one, but it would have been nice to talk to someone.”

Despite the long wait times, all attendees who waited were able to enter the fair by 5 p.m., according to Cornell Career Services Executive Director Rebecca Sparrow.

Halfway through the event, approximately 10 companies — including Intel, which set up a table outdoors — also sent recruiters outside the venue to talk to students on line, Sparrow said.

“We were encouraging anyone who had extra people working [at their station] to go outside,” Sparrow said.

Feiran Chen ’15, a recruiter for Coursera, said she came outside even before organizers began suggesting the option, when she realized students were waiting in the rain.

“We sort of just decided,” Chen said. “I’m a Cornell alum and I feel like these kids should get something for standing outside, and also I just feel like that’s way more efficient … I knew how this was going to work. The Statler can only hold so many people.”

However, Andrei Talaba ’18 said he believes this initiative reflected the inefficiency of the Career Fair’s setup.

“It’s humiliating that Cornell’s decision to replace Barton with the Statler led to employers deeming it necessary to leave the building,” Talaba said.

Catherine Schmidt ’17 added that recruiters who came outside lacked the resources that those at official tables had.

“There’s one guy from a company who’s in a different role from what I want to do, but if I’d been at the table there would have been people I could have talked to,” Schmidt said.

The event’s planners do not plan to make major organizational changes next week for the last two days of the fair, which focus on companies in the financial sector, according to Sparrow. Organizers hope that lower numbers of attending employers will solve the student overcrowding problem, she said.

Sparrow added that she is open to suggestions for improvement but believes it may be difficult to streamline the process further.

“I don’t know what huge suggestions they have, but if people want to make them we’ll leave them with the management people and see what [works],” she said. “It’s a very tough thing to have an event this big in a space this small.”