Corridor job fairs see increase in employer interest

A Sept 26 fair at the University of Iowa has a waiting list for companies

State and national employers are showing an increased interest in Corridor college career fairs.

At the University of Iowa, 136 employers have signed up to take part in the Pomerantz Career Center's Fall Job and Internship Fair next Thursday, said Angi McKie, the career center's marketing director.

This maxes out the Iowa Memorial Union and created a waiting list, she added.

A large number of employers participated in years past, McKie said, but what's notable about this semester's event is the 40 employers conducting on-site interviews the following day.

"That's higher than in years past and is a good indication that they're actually looking to hire," she said.

The job fair brings in a mix of state and national companies, with a high concentration from Chicago, across all industries, including Principal Financial Group, Caterpillar Inc. and CRST International.

McKie said last semester between 1,200 to 1,300 students attended the job fair, and she anticipates similar numbers this time around. She added that many students are taking advantage of the career center's resources and help with resumes and interviews.

Kirkwood Community College also has noted an uptick from employers who want to participate in this semester's job fair, said Danielle Ebaugh, career services coordinator. She said she's already had 40 employers sign up for the fair, set for Nov. 7. on the third floor of the Iowa Hall.

"I had calls right away," she said. "I have no worries that we'll get (the maximum) 60 employers to participate, and we may even have a wait-list."

Employers will include RuffaloCODY, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, Nordstrom and Mercy Medical Center.

Ebaugh added that several years ago she allowed companies to participate in the fair even if they didn't have jobs or internships to offer. She said those employers would use the time to educate students on the types of careers available at the company as well as what their company does.

But that isn't the case anymore.

"With the increased interest, I figured that I would leave the available space for those who have opportunities to offer to our students," she said.

Martin Gervais, an associate professor of economics at the UI's Tippie College of Business and who studies the labor market, said an increase in positions to fill, or vacancies, could be a reason more employers are participating in career fairs. And that is good news for job seekers.

But Gervais cautioned about the possibility that the skills workers have don't necessarily line up with the skills the labor market needs.

"I'm hoping that mismatching is not a problem, and that the situation really does look better for undergraduates," he said.

"It looks good, but we should be cautious because there are a lot of vacancies but unemployment hasn't really budged."

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