Feeling Lost in the Corporate World: Reflections on the Career Expo
by Sarah McLaughlin ’23
As a senior, I felt obligated to attend the Career Expo two weeks ago. I thought it provided a good opportunity to speak with potential employers, and I thought it might quell some of my fears about my future. However, I left with perhaps a greater feeling of uneasiness than I carried into Peterson.
Quite frequently upon introducing myself as a Creative Writing and Political Science major, I’m asked how I’m going to “use” my degree. What can I “do with it?” College has become commoditized. Students see their time here as four years of training to be employees for a company. Think even of the emphasis our parents and other mentors place on “building connections” and creating a social network. Ultimately, they believe it’s for the purpose of getting hired.
While speaking with representatives of banks, investment firms, and recruitment agencies can be valuable for many, it misses the mark for a lot of us. Many peers I spoke with expressed similar frustration that there was “nothing there for them.” In the days that have followed the Career Expo, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what I can actually imagine myself doing with my life. I’ve always wanted to be an author who works for herself; I see that as my end goal. There are many other types of work I also enjoy, work I’d be willing to dedicate years to doing while this goal remains unattainable for the time being. This isn’t a critique of capitalism or a manifesto against the idea of work, having a career, and climbing the socioeconomic ladder. It is, however, a plea for students, parents, and college faculty to think about how we frame our discussions of work.
In her seminal book The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt distinguishes “labor” from “work.” Labor, she says, is the biological processes of our bodies, the things of which we are capable not because we are humans, but because we are animals. Work, on the other hand, is the uniquely human process of creation—creating something that can last outside of ourselves, with an aspiration to permanence. In college, we’re taught how to do work—writing an analytical paper, for example—but I’m just as guilty as anyone of thinking of it as purely labor. We might stay up until 3 a.m. writing an essay only to forget about it in the morning; we don’t always take pride in what we accomplish. I think the first step to thinking about our college experience as more than just “training” is to think of it as work.
Maybe it’s naive and idealistic of me to think that my liberal arts degree is more than a training or a certification that ensures I can get hired, but what has been most important to me during my college career has been what I’ve created, from my poems in creative writing classes to my political science senior thesis. After graduation, I might end up doing menial labor that doesn’t bring me the same type of fulfillment, and maybe that’s a necessary, temporary step towards something greater. But I don’t think it’s unrealistic to rethink what we mean when we talk about “careers.” As a liberal arts college, PC should think about the potential broader scope an event like the Career Expo could have.
Never Too Early to Consider Careers: Business Professors Give Advice on Prepping for Career EXPO
by Matthew Mazzella ’20
Sept. 25 marks the annual Providence College Career EXPO, held for students to network with recruiters looking to add talented Friars to their businesses. This is a highly anticipated event on campus, as students look to take the next step in their careers by making lasting impact on recruiters through networking. The event will take place in Peterson Recreation Center from 1-5 p.m., and there are currently 110 employers registered for the event.
While many believe this event caters towards business majors, there will be a variety of companies attending from different industries, creating an opportunity for all PC students to have a chance to make a great impression.
Scott Wright, associate professor for the marketing department at PC, believes this is a great opportunity for students to jump-start their careers. Wright said, “I strongly encourage students to attend the Fall Career EXPO. At this early career stage, students are presented with some hefty decisions, many of which will impact their careers for years to come. The EXPO presents students with an opportunity to engage, to listen, and to learn. The EXPO also helps students form those crucial connections that often kickstart successful business careers.”
The EXPO is especially important for seniors, as they look to find a job after their time at PC. Finance major Peter Chin ’20 has his mind set on a successful Career EXPO. Chin has been looking forward to this year’s EXPO, as he has begun searching for jobs in Finance. Chin has made connections before at the EXPO that lead to a summer internship, and he hopes to build on that success this fall as he searches for a full time offer.
“The career EXPO is such a great event that all students should try to go to, no matter what grade you are in. You never know who you will meet and how they can help you along with your career. I hope to make an impact this year, as I have a stronger resume and a focused career path.”
While juniors and seniors tend to get the most attention at the EXPO, it does not hurt for freshmen and sophomores to go and begin networking. Jonathan Jackson, Jr., assistant finance professor, believes this is an opportunity that is too good to pass up, regardless of your class year.
Jackson stresses the importance of career advancement by telling students, “This is the largest opportunity to meet people face to face and make a great first impression. You will never have a chance to meet 100+ employers who want to hire you. No matter what your major is or what grade you are in, there is no harm in going. You never know what you will take away from it.”
Another benefit of going to the EXPO is the opportunity to take a professional headshot for LinkedIn. The service is free for all students and it has a sign up form available through the Handshake website. Having a professional picture on LinkedIn can make you stand out from other candidates, so it is important for Friars to take advantage of this additional great opportunity which PC offers.
Many Friars are looking to bulk up their resume to make an impact at the event. With so many employers on campus, there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of, and the Career EXPO offers students the opportunity to build meaningful, professional connections outside the classroom.
Don’t Let the Career Expo be an Expiration Date: Steps for Students to Take Post-Career Expo
by Maura Campbell ’22
Every Providence College student knows the anticipation leading up to the Career Expo: editing résumés, preparing introductions, and practicing their handshakes. The bright and bold signs around campus count down the days, encouraging students to get ready and excited.
Once the Career Expo has ended, students might find themselves without direction. Does the end of the Career Expo mean the job search ends, too?
Not surprisingly, the answer to that question is no; in fact, the Career Expo can kick off the career search for many students, not end it.
Despite this, it is common for students to feel unsure about what steps to take next. Stacey Moulton, associate director of the Center for Career Education, spoke about tips for students who may be struggling with the post-Expo blues.
One of the most important things, Moulton says, is using Handshake to further your career opportunities. Handshake, a platform that recently replaced eFRIARS, is used to connect employers with college students and recent college graduates.
PC’s Handshake platform can be used to connect students specifically with employers that they met at the Expo.
Handshake is not exclusively for students looking for jobs right now, either. Moulton encourages students to utilize the platform to get some networking done, even if they attended the Career Expo just to get an idea of what it is all about.
She explained, “If you are not looking for an internship or a job right now, let them know it was great meeting them and thank them for their advice.”
No matter how serious your job search is at this point, it is still helpful to make connections with potential employers.
Keeping the momentum going, Moulton says, is important as well. She recommends using Handshake not only to connect with Career Expo employers, but to explore other career events and opportunities as well. The Career Expo is not the only career event in Providence, and the Center for Career Education is available throughout the semester for career advisement and coaching.
Another important aspect to consider following the Career Expo is the sheer number of opportunities available. Over 100 employers attend the Career Expo, which can be overwhelming. The large number of employers and career opportunities at the Expo can lead to confusion, particularly among students who may be undeclared or who are still unsure of a career path.
Moulton’s advice for these students is to look at both their interests and their strengths. Though this might seem like simple advice, it can be difficult to actually observe and list your own interests and strengths.
“Family and friends can be a great help brainstorming these lists,” Moulton said, adding that the Center for Career Education offers additional helpful resources.
The Center for Career Education recommends two online assessments, Focus and StrengthsFinder.
After the Career Expo, it is also important to continue networking. Networking does not just help with getting an internship or a job, but Moulton says it can also help students to “get an insider’s perspective regarding the position and the organization” and determine whether they want to pursue these careers further.
Just as it is important to prepare for the Career Expo, it is important to follow up with employers, opportunities , and interests afterwards as well.
Simply put, the Career Expo should be used as an opportunity to further job opportunities, and these opportunities do not end with the Expo itself.
As always, the Center for Career Education is open for daily drop-in hours Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm in Slavin 108.
Even though the spring Career Expo is in the rearview mirror, the opportunities for networking and furthering your career certainly are not.