In the MacKenzie Great Hall, Career Fair energetically hummed as well-dressed students strolled through aisles of booths, eager to meet with employers who could open doors to future careers. Representatives from 45 businesses and ministries, such as Answers in Genesis, Focus on the Family, Navy Federal Credit Union, Florida Department of Corrections, and many others stood ready to engage with students and share professional insights.
Pensacola Christian College holds Career Fair every fall semester; and unlike the spring semester’s Educator Recruitment, this event draws employers outside of education to showcase entry-level positions and internships. Students in all stages of college get a chance to ask representatives questions, collect flyers, and find potential new directions their degrees could take them. “The purpose [of Career Fair] is to help students in their job search journey,” said Mr. Brad Mullenix, director of Alumni and Career Services. Interactions at this event mean students are “making industry connections or asking [businesses and recruiters] about their industry and what they need to do [to] put themselves in the best place to be employable.”
Opening Career Possibilities
Having so many employers under the same roof at Career Fair presents a valuable opportunity for students to make one-on-one connections that could land them a job when they graduate. Zara Williams (Sr., MD), an accounting student who has attended the event every year, said it’s helpful “that there’s a lot of people in one place, and you can actually talk to people face-to-face.” When Zara first began at PCC in 2020, many new students were navigating much of their college experiences online. “With Covid, you did things virtually, and it’s harder to have that physical connection with people when you can’t really see them. It’s been more meaningful to interact with people in person and be able to ask questions.”
Coming to Career Fair also opens new avenues for students, showing them the possibilities for their degrees. As a first-time visitor to the event, double-major Allyson Wantz (Jr., MN) discovered opportunities for her management and marketing degrees that she had never thought about before. “[Career Fair] gives us a broad range of places that we haven’t really considered,” she said. “I was just talking to someone who does cement work, and I’ve never considered being part of a cement company. It was like, ‘Oh! That’s interesting!’ So it was cool being able to talk to people and figure out some things that they offer.”
“I understand the value of being able to put yourself in pressuring situations and making yourself comfortable.”
Many students also found their interactions at the event helpful for strengthening their conversational and professional skills. Marie Michael (Sr., VA), who is studying graphic design, values the experience that attending Career Fair has given her. “I understand the value of being able to put yourself in pressuring situations—and making yourself comfortable, even if you’re not—and just learning how to have conversations that are more professional and geared toward developing yourself,” she said.
Preparing Students to Succeed
PCC likes to make sure students have all the support they need for success, which is part of the reason Career Fair is held. To further meet this goal, prior to the event, Career Services offered students multiple tools to create stellar résumés and prepare for beneficial interactions with potential employers. “The résumé templates are really nice,” said Andy Palmer (Sr., TX). “They give us résumés that are clean and ready to use for the companies that we’re considering applying to. That’s been a very big benefit.”
“I took advantage of the LinkedIn headshot pictures and did everything to make my professional appearance better.”
In addition to résumé templates, at the College’s expense, students were offered workshops to improve their résumés, cover letters, and networking skills. They even had the chance to visit a studio for a free professional headshot photo. “I took advantage of the LinkedIn headshot pictures and did everything to make my professional appearance better,” said Jose Porras (Jr., Guatemala).
The preparation the College offers students gives them what they need to interview and land a job or internship. Jacob George (Romania), a senior studying information technology, wanted to find jobs in IT and programming. The resources available made it easy for him to find which representatives he should speak to about their open positions. “They had a list of all the people that they knew were going to be here,” he said. “I was able to look up all of the companies, and it had a text underneath their name, saying what field they’re in.”
To give students more options, PCC invited a range of businesses and ministries to this year’s Career Fair in hopes that many profitable relationships would form between the employers and students. “There has been a focus on corporations and Christian companies that have offices nationwide, if not across the globe,” Mr. Mullenix noted. “This gives students a variety as they seek God’s calling for their lives.”
“You can tell by looking at all the young people’s faces that they care, and I can’t teach that.”
Employers attend Career Fair to find employees with good character, something the College encourages in students’ daily responsibilities. “Above all, what we look for when we’re hiring anybody, especially here, is people with integrity,” said Sergeant Jack Coppenger, who represented Century Correctional Institution. “You can tell by looking at all the young people’s faces that they care, and I can’t teach that. They have a good heart—that still small voice that tells them to do the right thing when nobody is looking.”
Cintas’s Human Resources manager Pam Skeath comes to PCC because of the quality training that students receive. “The business degree program is very good,” she mentioned. “I’ve talked to Dr. [Jim] White, and he’s told me a lot about the candidates and the rigorous structure and grading process, which is unique. It’s not what you would normally see in colleges.”
For many students, Career Fair starts the journey to their professional careers. With the in-person interviews and offered resources from the Career Services Office, students have taken the first steps to ensuring a bright and successful future in their field.