Edit Desk: Career Fair for (Not) All

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As I sit in my living room, friends are coming and going with stressed looks on their faces. Questions arise such as, “Do you have a blazer I could borrow?” or “Where can I print my resume on high-quality paper?” and “What types of interview questions will they ask?” As a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, I am unaware of the fact that the 25th annual Lehigh University Career Fair is a mere three days away.

The Career Fair, produced by Career Services, gives Lehigh students an opportunity to meet with representatives from a variety of companies, while networking with fellow students, alumni and potential employers. Over 100 companies and 1,000 students attend the fair to learn about full-time positions, internships and networking opportunities.  And while the Career Fair is advertised as an event all Lehigh students should attend, I am struck at the lack of variety among participating companies.

Almost all of the 100 plus companies are business or engineering based, focusing on those students in the College of Business and Economics and the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.  Ernest and Young, JP Morgan, IBM, KPMG and PwC are among the most prominent participating companies. As a journalism student, I filtered the registered companies by major. The search results for the journalism major only contained organizations where all majors were applicable. There was not a single company represented at the Career Fair for journalism majors. And this is not only true for journalism, but also for international relations, law, school psychology, global studies majors and many more.

Thirty-five percent of undergraduate students at Lehigh University are in the College of Arts and Sciences. This closely follows the College of Engineering, which accounts for 36 percent of the student body, while surpassing the College of Business and Economics, which accounts for 25 percent of the student body. These numbers suggest there should be more emphasis placed on those students searching for careers in Arts and Science related field. This begs the question: Why isn’t there a Career Fair for those students in the College of Arts and Sciences? How is Lehigh supporting those students who aspire to work in Arts and Science fields? Career Services is neglecting 35 percent of the undergraduate student body.

As an Arts and Sciences student, I understand that most Arts and Sciences’ positions are not available until the spring semester. Therefore, a fall Career Fair would not be beneficial to most Arts and Sciences students. However, why not create a spring Career Fair that focuses on Arts and Sciences students? By the spring semester, most business and engineering students have jobs and/or internships set up for the upcoming summer/fall. Therefore, a spring Career Fair focused on the College of Arts and Sciences would not neglect other business and engineering students who have already pursued job and internship opportunities in the fall Career Fair.

Lehigh University prides itself on fostering an interdisciplinary program environment where students are encouraged to explore their interests without the inhibition or hassle of switching colleges. This environment stimulates students to think outside the bounds of traditional majors and create a uniquely personalized college education. Diverse combinations of majors and minors are commonality at Lehigh. The Career Fair should reflect the student body’s diversity when it comes to career opportunities. Instituting a spring Career Fair that focuses on the diversity of the majors and minors offered by Lehigh would create more job opportunities for non-business and engineering students.

Students are not offered as many career opportunities, such as an Arts and Sciences Career Fair, when they stray off the path of traditional majors. Lehigh celebrates students who take advantage of the interdisciplinary environment. Why not further this celebration by offering a spring Career Fair for Arts and Sciences students? The fall Career Fair gives business and engineering students a distinct advantage when applying for jobs because it allows students to make a first impression with potential employers before the interview process has even begun. Arts and Sciences students should at least be given the opportunity to make this first impression on potential employers. However, this is not the case.

Sitting in my living room, I realize that my resume has not been touched in three months, nor have I thought about business casual clothes or interview questions. As an Arts and Sciences student, am I behind in my internship search? With regards to job and networking opportunities, am I worse off for not pursuing a business degree? From my perspective, Lehigh has ignored me in my time of greatest need. We come to college to get a degree and pursue job opportunities. Lehigh has helped me with the degree, but not with the latter.

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