In an economy that has left recent college graduates with fewer job prospects, students equipped with resumes and professional attire flocked to the Fall Career Days event Tuesday and Wednesday in the Student Union Memorial Center Ballroom.
Susan Miller, the marketing and special events coordinator for Career Services, which hosts the event, said the purpose of the event is to allow students to meet directly with employers.
""It's nicer to go to the Union and see lots of employers rather than visiting 100 different sites,"" she said.
About 200 businesses and companies from many different fields participated in the event, from non-profits to government agencies. The fair was divided into a tech section and a non-tech section to help students decide which area to focus on.
Last year, Miller said, almost 4,000 students attended the fair over the two days. She said that this year, about 1,700 students attended the fair on Tuesday and more than 500 students attended within the first hour on Wednesday.
Miller explained that participating employers pay to take part in the event so the university and students don't have to. Dillard's, Altria, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, GEICO, La-Z-Boy and Nestle also sponsored the event.
""Every employer I've spoken to has been happy with the student response and the quality of students,"" Miller said.
This year, Career Services varied the hours of the fair — Tuesday from 1 to 6 p.m. and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — to give more students an opportunity to attend.
Miller said a couple hundred students came between 4 and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, during the new time. She said Career Services will evaluate the response to see if the new time was effective.
Students checked in with their CatCards and received name badges before entering the ballroom. Many of the employers' tables had white boards set up to inform students whether they were seeking students from all majors or something more specific, such as business.
Feruza Amanova, a senior majoring in sociology and family studies and human development, was looking for a job for when she graduates in December.
""I am trying to utilize every resource I can,"" she said. She has also signed up for campus interviewing and mock interviews. She said her major is vague, and she must find out where she can use her skills and knowledge.
Amanova said she had attended UA career fairs in the past and felt this one was more useful than others.
""People are taking it a lot more seriously this year because of the job market,"" she said. ""Students and employers are trying to find each other.""
Amanova said the event allowed her to establish a rapport with potential employers that could help her if she gets interviews with them in the future.
""Otherwise I'd be completely intimidated,"" she said.
Sue Pawlowski, a systems engineering manager for Lockheed Martin, said the company is recruiting students for about 2,000 to 2,500 full-time positions and internships nationwide. She said they focus their recruiting efforts on certain schools with good reputations.
Pawlowski said they had received about 500 résumés. She said her company targets engineering and business majors, but there are opportunities for students from other backgrounds as well.
Pawlowski said recruiting is an important process.
""I get really energized,"" she said. ""This is the future of our company.""
Thomas Campbell, a senior recruiter for Albertson's, said the economy has influenced their recruiting.
""We're still very actively recruiting, we're just being more cautious,"" he said.
Campbell said he accepts résumés at the fair, but asks students to e-mail him a copy if they are truly interested in the job.
""If the right candidates are available, we'll find a place for them,"" he said.
Some of the recruiters were UA alumni. Jessica Anderson, former ASUA executive vice president, graduated in May and is now a student platform marketing manager for Microsoft.
She said she enjoyed coming back to coach students about the challenges they are facing that she remembers from her days as student.
""It's an exciting part of the process,"" she said.
Anderson also said the effects of the economy were obvious. She said students were ""hungry for jobs.""
Daniel Valine, a systems engineering senior, attended the event both days and was looking for a full-time job for after he graduates in December. Valine sought out companies such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.
He said he met with employees at Career Services before attending the fair.
""I completely revamped my résumé for this event,"" he said.
Valine said meeting representatives from the companies was helpful for him.
""It's easier to get a feel of what the company is like than to read their mission statement online,"" he said. ""I have high hopes of finding a job.""