Jumpstarting a Career

USF’s Career Fair offers an opportunity for USF students and alumni to meet exclusively with businesses.


USF students met prospective employers at the annual Career Fair at the Marshall Student Center.                                Photo: Brandi Hollis | USF News


By Brandi Hollis

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 5, 2013) – The Marshall Student Center ballroom filled with students – many sharply dressed – trying to get a step up on their job search during the University of South Florida’s annual Career Fair.


Companies like Target, GM, The Hartford, PetSmart, Insight Global, the U.S. Marines and even USF showed up at the recent fair to meet exclusively with USF students and alumni. They were recruiting for everything from account managers to biologists.


“The feedback from employers has been extremely positive, and we’re also getting feedback from employers that they will be calling students back for interviews,” said Drema Howard, director of the USF Career Center, host of the career fair.


The fair was held over 3 days, with one day being for all majors, and a special fair for engineering majors, and for the first time this year, a separate fair for accounting majors.


Howard stressed the merit of attending a career fair that is only open for USF, and said companies like GM have been so impressed by past USF hires, they are doubling the number of Bulls they will hire this year.


“One thing that’s really critical for students to understand, the economy for a college student is improving, the opportunities are improving. Don’t assume that there are not opportunities. These employers are coming with actual jobs, internships, co-op, full-time positions,” said Howard.


For students like Ashley Chaplin who will be graduating this spring with a degree in finance, having options before she graduates is key.


“I want to align a job for when I graduate if not before,” said Chaplin, “I’m looking to start my career.”


Chaplin is exploring a variety of jobs in management, especially account management and supply chain management. She was impressed with several companies in a variety of fields, including Gerdau Long Steel North America, Buckeye International and Asbury Automotive Group.


“All have management programs to move up which is what I’m interested in,” Chaplin said.


Chris DeCeglie, who graduated in December with a double major in Marketing and Management was also there “looking for a career starter.” DeCeglie has a part-time job but was standing in line in a suit and tie with his resume ready to talk to the representatives from Nielsen.


Employers too, are looking for the potential hire that will be a long term asset to their company.


“We’re always hiring for the right person,” said Ashley Kerns, a sales manager with Insight Global.


Kerns said their training program can earn a promotion within six to eight months and stresses that Insight Global “only promote(s) within our company, and we promote on merit not tenure.” Insight Global has 34 offices nationwide and works with major companies such as Dell and Sysco, providing IT staffing services.


Gary Jacobs, who handles operations at a local PetSmart store, said his company works with junior, seniors and recent graduates to help develop them and their careers.


PetSmart has a “leadership in training” program designed to transition employees to corporate positions. Jacobs said PetSmart is looking for a variety of majors, everything from finance to biology.


“USF is great because it’s extremely diverse and our business today needs that diversity,” Jacobs said.