Career fairs are an essential part of the recruitment process. In addition to providing support services and resources, such as career counseling and assessment, resume writing, and interview preparation, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) Career Services office hosted three career fairs in March. These events provided Pepperdine students, upcoming graduates, and alumni with the unique opportunity to meet and speak with recruiters and hiring managers face-to-face.
In an effort to draw employers from throughout Southern California and to cater to students across five graduate campuses, GSEP hosted career fairs at the West Los Angeles and Irvine Graduate Campuses. An education career fair took place at the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus on March 8, 2006; a combined education and psychology career fair took place at the Irvine Graduate Campus on March 14, 2006; and a psychology career fair took place at the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus on March 22, 2006. Coordinating these events was a complex endeavor requiring logistical planning, marketing, employer outreach, and student preparation.
The Career Services staff invited employers from Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County, and San Diego. Recruiters and hiring managers responded quickly. They were excited by the opportunity to meet GSEP students and alumni, identify candidates who match their job specifications, increase their brand recognition within the Pepperdine community, and establish themselves as desirable employers. Some organizations that attended the career fair had already been on campus earlier in the year to conduct classroom presentations and to hold interviews. Attending the career fair enabled them to continue to develop a professional relationship with GSEP, its upcoming graduates, and experienced alumni. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is one such employer that returned to the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus to recruit at the career fair. LAUSD said that they are "always pleased with the quality of students from Pepperdine."
"Pepperdine students are extremely well prepared" and LAUSD "feels confident that they will make a difference in the classroom, especially in schools where they are most needed." John Ackerman of Laura's House, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent domestic and family violence, added that "Pepperdine's graduate psychology program consistently provides our counseling agency with well-prepared professional students who provide an invaluable service for us. So much so that we have hired several of their practicum students over the years. Pepperdine has always maintained good contact between the student and our program to ensure a successful partnership as well as provide a forum on up-to-date changes and trends in the field of psychotherapy."
More than 1,000 employers were invited to each career fair and more than 60 employers attended. Schools, agencies, and organizations participated, including LAUSD, Compton Unified School District, Glendale Unified School District, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Green Dot Public Schools, Teach for America, Five Acres, The Help Group, Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, Kayne Eras Center, Children's Institute, Inc., Olive Crest, Laura's House Domestic Violence Shelter, and Center for Autism and Related Disorders.
While establishing relationships with employers is important, securing student and alumni participation is also critical. Job seekers should attend career fairs for a myriad of reasons. They are one of the best ways for students to meet potential employers, identify job opportunities, and network. Additionally, they provide students an opportunity to hone interview skills, learn industry specifications, gather information about companies, and collect business cards. Students can leave a career fair with interviews, prospective jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities, and career advice from experts in the field.
To have a successful career fair experience, students need to be prepared. Career Services assisted students in a variety of ways. Staff gave a "How to Prepare for a Career Fair" presentation and incorporated this information into preexisting events. A flyer of tips on how to work a career fair was distributed to students and posted on the Career Services Web page. Students were also assisted individually with resume and curriculum vitae writing.
The main goal of the career fairs was to provide students with the opportunity to make contacts within their field of expertise. Students and alumni distributed resumes, learned about job opportunities, and shared with employers their skills and qualifications. In addition, Career Services developed important and valuable relationships with employers.