On Sept. 28, the Tufts Career Center hosted its Fall Career Fair, which strives to establish connections between students and prospective employers. Unfortunately, many students have expressed that the Career Fair did not present ample opportunities for them, particularly those studying the humanities and social sciences. The most important takeaway, according to an interview conducted with Career Center staff, is that communication between students and the Career Center needs to be improved — a change that will not occur unless both parties meet each other halfway.
In an ideal world, every student would find a plethora of opportunities tailored to their intellectual and professional interests at the biannual career fairs. Sadly, this is not the case. Career Center staff Saqi Mehta, associate director of employer relations, and Gregory Victory, executive director, provided information about the industries represented at the fairs. “The fall fair is heavily populated by tech, finance, consulting and engineering, because those are the industries that do their massive recruiting in the fall,” Victory said, explaining that the spring fair tends to lean more towards education, government and nonprofits. However, career fairs are not the only platform for students to network and learn about internship and jobs. Mehta and Victory said that the Career Center also hosts industry nights focused on different fields, such as healthcare and life sciences, education and advocacy, sports and entertainment and art and design. According to the Career Center, recruiters from the respective fields attend these events to scope out possible candidates for employment, making them excellent opportunities for students to get a foot in the door in those fields.
Nonprofits and public sector organizations, which are often small, face limitations in attending career fairs that other big companies do not. “For some of these organizations, they have a limited number of schools that they recruit at,” Victory said. This is one of the main reasons why companies that are not STEM-focused are inadequately represented at career fairs; they may not have the same amount of resources as a tech company, and this translates to less representation at university career events. Perhaps Tufts could sponsor recruiters from these smaller organizations to attend such events. Seeing that these companies offer valuable opportunities, it is disconcerting that they do not even get a seat at the table due to financial constraints.
To provide humanities and social sciences majors with easier access to career opportunities, the Career Center could also organize a special event on how to navigate different industries, network with employers and find a job as a non-STEM major. Furthermore, creating a position in the Career Center specifically for advising humanities and social sciences majors would be beneficial, just as there are dedicated advisors for students who are keen on careers in finance and consulting, engineering and computer science and the creative arts.
On the other hand, students should be more aware of the opportunities that the Career Center offers, as publicized on Handshake and the weekly e-newsletters. If students have suggestions on ways that the Career Center can improve to provide them with unique job opportunities, they should also contact the Center to offer that information, thus strengthening the relationship between students and the Career Center for the benefit of students in the future. Mehta also said that students in their job search should make sure to approach a variety of companies, even those which, at first glance, don’t seem to have opportunities for them. “Usually, the people who are coming here to represent [their company] are usually not even the same people who registered for the event,” she said. “[They] could be someone from communications or marketing.” Making a point to proactively ask people at fairs about job opportunities could allow students to realize how many companies actually have jobs catered towards their interests and skills. Although the Career Center could improve in providing greater access to certain career industries, it is also on students to make full use of the resources around them.
The goal of the Career Center is to help students take their first steps into the industry. By improving communication and providing more dedicated programming for those studying the humanities and social sciences, events such as career fairs will be sure to benefit a wider population of Tufts students.