January 16, 2004

CAPS event jumpstarts summer job search

Flipping through multiple handouts, fliers, and brochures she received from various companies, Anthea Nguyen, a fourth-year Economics concentrator in the College, was making sure she passed her resumé to all the financial consulting firms represented at this year's Career and Placement Services Winter Job and Internship Fair.

"This job fair is better than some before," Nguyen said over the loud din of students and business representatives at the fair, held in Ida Noyes on Wednesday. "And there are a lot more people here, too. The employers here just seem more affirmative, more interested in hiring students again."

Sporting business attire and carrying a leather binder stuffed with papers, Nguyen had networked across the Cloister Club in Ida Noyes, talking to various employment representatives from renowned companies such as American Express, Citadel, J.P. Morgan, and LECG. Nguyen said that even though her main interests were in financial services and consulting, her walk-in hours with CAPS helped her to seek more diverse jobs in financing.

"It was very positive going to CAPS," Nguyen said, "They always help prepare students for jobs and internships, but this year it really helps with more jobs available now."

More than 500 career-conscious students filed into Ida Noyes during the afternoon to visit booths and speak with departmental representatives from each company. Jay Burgin, the associate director of recruiting for CAPS, attributed the popularity of this job fair to the large turnout of businesses who attended to eagerly recruit University students.

"This one looks like it will be a bigger success," Burgin said. "Last year, we only had 35 actual employers at our winter job fair, and last fall there were only 34 employers. This year, we've got 42 employment organizations in attendance, not including the U of C departments such as the Graduate School of Business and the University Human Resources Management. With a lot of business come a lot of opportunities for students everywhere."

Burgin cited the recent upswing in the American economy as one of the factors in drawing businesses to the job fair. Until last year, graduating and current University students often found a hostile job market because of the economic recession that started in 2001, and was exacerbated by corporate scandals, huge downsizing, and the high unemployment rate.

"Last year, the economy stopped hemorrhaging and finally started to rise up again," Burgin said. "This year, we got more companies who want to hire again and start looking for students, especially from [the University of] Chicago, which has a very talented pool."

Burgin admitted that the businesses in this year's job fair were mostly from the business sector, ignoring the many students in the College studying physical and biological science.

"Yes, it's very difficult to get science firms here," Burgin said, adding that CAPS invited Fisher Scientific, a leader in lab research. "They never responded. We will try to get more labs and more science companies to come here hopefully in the near future. We do have a Science Career Forum later this quarter that is tailor-made for science majors."

Among the new businesses that put up booths at the job fair this quarter were the American Institute of Research, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the Japanese biochemical company that recently expanded to the United States, and Kirkland & Ellis, the nationwide law firm.

Z.S. Associates, a sales and management consulting firm with offices worldwide, recently came back to the CAPS job fair after a two-year hiatus. Kerri Eklund, a Z.S. human resources associate consultant, said the University was one of the major spots Z.S. wanted to resume looking for student workers.

"We have more jobs available this year thanks to the good economy," Eklund said, "We particularly wanted to come back to the University of Chicago because it offers good candidates from a very smart, intellectual, and resourceful group of students here. Z.S. thinks that this university has what it wants in employees for the future."

The Center for Student Missions, a non-profit organization that facilitates student missions to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, free clinics, and other volunteer needy associations in northwest Chicago, was looking for interns to lead the student missions over the summer. Jarrett Knox, a human resources consultant for the Center for Student Missions, said the University offered high caliber students as interns many times.

"We're seeking interns all the time," Knox said, "We're just trying to get the word out. We just want a diverse group of students leading our missions and what often attracts us here is the diversity of student leadership that is perfect for our missions."

For students who could not make it to the job fair, CAPS is offering a virtual job fair on MonsterTrak. The virtual job fair, to be run in coordination with the Big Ten conference of schools and Notre Dame, will begin at the end of January. The Chicago Science Career Forum will be held on March 10, 2004. CAPS will also have another job fair in April, this time featuring non-profit and governmental organizations.