The Nashville Area College to Career Fair held Feburuary 10 from 11 AM to 3 PM drew large quanities of students and employers alike. With the economy at an all time low since the Great Depression and employers laying off workers right and left, I turned out to see if empoyers were actually hiring. 122 booths of businesses and graduate schools filled the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.
Students from colleges and universities from across Middle Tennessee seemed discouraged. Adam Gragg, a senior Marketing major from Middle Tennessee State University had been to about 10 booths when I caught up with him. He told me that some of the booths he went to weren’t even hiring. These businesses had been hiring at the time of registration, but since had either filled the positions or were putting a freeze on hiring. They chose to come to the career fair anyway because they had to pay for their spot and wanted to get resumes for when they might need employees in the future.
Alvin Patridge, who will graduate with his MBA from Tennessee State University this spring told me that several companies he is interested in working for could only offer him unpaid internships. Patridge told me that he is willing to take a job that he typically wouldn’t be interested in simply to gain experience. He hopes that this will benefit him in getting a better job in the future once the economy gets better.
Several company representatives that I spoke with told me that they were in fact hiring for full time paid positions. I found that most of these companies were hiring positions in sales. The Director of Recruiting and Development from Northwestern Mutual Financial Company, Suzanne Bidek told me that they are hiring for interns and full time finance positions. The full time position is 100% peformance based – essentially, if the employee can make sales it will pay off, but if not, the employee will literally be making no income.
Most students I talked to seemed unenthused about starting a career in sales during a time when consumers aren’t spending much money. Tyler Schlandt, a senior Marketing major from Belmont University said that he didn’t find many companies at the career fair that he was interested in working for. He doesn’t want a career in sales or an unpaid internship when he graduates this spring. He also commented that the number of employers at the career fair was much smaller than what he observed at last year’s career fair.
That fact didn’t discourage students from coming to the fair. Tanner Scott, a senior Finance and Music Business major from Belmont observed that most of the booths had extremely long lines. In addition to added competition, some of the booths he was interested in visiting didn’t have a representative show up for the entire time he was at the fair.
Other businsses that I spoke with are hiring for part time positions. Katy Ridenour, the representative from the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau told me that they are always hiring registration personel. This position includes computer work, working conventions, etc. The jobs can pay more depending on the task and the skills that one has (such as being bilingual). She said that one of the benefits of this job is that you can make your own schedule, which is beneficial while you are searching for a career. It is completely fine to turn down a day’s work if you have a job interview or something else to do.