Hitting the pavement

By Matt Hawkins
February 13, 2014

Students venturing into the job market found an abundance of opportunities as a record 150 employers searched for talent at the Spring Job and Internship Fair.

The fair brought 27 new businesses like Kraft Foods in addition to companies like Caterpillar, Cumulus Media and Boy Scouts. More than 900 students took advantage of the on-campus interviews, formal photos, resume services and last-minute interview tips from Smith Career Center staff.

“This creates a great opportunity for a first impression or to get resume reviews,” Smith Career Interim Director Jon Neidy said. “It’s a benefit to make initial contact that leads to an interview a lot of times.”

Over the past three years, Bradley graduates averaged a 93 percent placement rate, which means those graduates found employment or continued education within six months of graduation.  The high placement rate is bolstered by job-seekers’ experiential learning as students, with 96 percent of students participating in experiential learning projects and 84 percent taking internships while in school during the 2012-13 academic year.

“This gives them an edge for full-time employment,” said Dawn Koeltzow, director of Springer Center for Excellence in Internships. “It builds skills, the resume, networks with professionals and helps them make connection for full-time hires.”

Charlie Drier, regional vice-president for Auto-Owners Insurance’s Peoria office sought a range of academic backgrounds for internships and full-time openings. The Smith Career center Employee Advisory Board member has attended the fair many years because of the university’s ability to produce students equipped for the workforce.

“Kids at Bradley are prepared for the real world,” he said. “Typical students at Bradley are infused from the start of their career to get dirty and into a workforce that gives them experience.”

At another booth, Hy-Vee human resources manager Jennifer Neice discussed a range of retail and corporate opportunities with students. Because Bradley students are “good at thinking on their feet,” the company wanted to expose students to career tracks outside traditional retail positions.

“It’s a great way for them to see if they like the job fit,” Neice said. “They get to try it out before they commit. Grocery stores are fast-paced and ever-changing, so it gets in your blood.”

Though the job outlook isn’t quite as sunny as many would hope, signs of an improving market encouraged senior Christopher Adolphson. The Knoxville native wanted to find a job at companies with a Midwest presence like HON or Caterpillar.

“It sounds like it’s slowly picking up with companies wanting to hire entry-level,” he said. “Good employers are looking for entry-level experience who know they can build and become a vital part of the company.”

Fellow senior Max Sawa already has a summer internship with ComEd, but he wanted to make more connections and to polish his interview skills.

“This is exciting,” he said. “I remember when I was a freshman or sophomore being concerned about every movement and every word I said. Now, it’s relaxing and I enjoy it.”