To the Editor:
I write to acknowledge the challenges our students experienced during the Cornell Career Fair last week. None of us in Career Services wanted to put on a fair that would turn away students, and I am sorry that many waited so long to enter and others were unable to attend. We sincerely regret that capacity restrictions in the venue, driven by safety considerations, caused so many to experience frustration. I also want to make sure students know they can work with us to initiate further contact with employers if they were unable to interact with their preferred employers last week.
The decision to hold our beginning-of-year career fair at the Statler Hotel this year took quite some time and was informed by many factors, including student input. We learned last September that Barton Hall, the venue we have used for many years, would be unavailable this year due to construction. It became clear that no alternative space of sufficient size to accommodate the expected numbers of students and employers would be available on campus when we needed it for the event as we have known it. We did identify an alternative off-campus venue, but responses to student surveys about a one-day off-campus fair, extending into the evening hours, indicated a reluctance to attend. Despite our offering to provide frequent free bus transportation from campus to that venue (15 minutes away), survey respondents told us very clearly that they wanted the event held on the Cornell campus.
Wanting to serve the greatest number of students, we chose the Statler Hotel site as the only available, feasible on-campus venue. This required that we reconfigure what has been a two-day event into a four-day event in two different weeks. The physical layout of the Statler facility required Career Services to monitor the numbers admitted to the site carefully for reasons of safety; this led to the long lines and understandable frustration.
We developed a number of tactics to provide services to the students waiting on long lines. We asked employers represented by multiple recruiters to send one or more of them outside to interact with students waiting there. When it became clear that many students would not gain access to the Statler, we gave students tickets to use for priority admission to an upcoming fair.
We have a plan for providing information to employers on students who had wanted to see them but were unable to do so because of the crowding in the facility. I invite any students who were not aware of this opportunity to deliver a resume annotated with your employer preferences to our offices in 103 Barnes Hall. We will inform those employers of your interest, reminding them of the reason you did not meet with them during the Career Fair.
Career fairs and on-campus recruiting are one component of a well-planned job-search strategy. I encourage every student to visit his or her college career services office or Career Services in Barnes Hall for personalized assistance with the job search. Staff in all career offices can assist with writing a well-developed resume and cover letter, developing a “quick pitch” to explain your interests and abilities at a career fair or through other interaction, and strengthening your interviewing skills.
Rebecca M. Sparrow MILR ’86, executive director of Career Services