By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Services) — Hundreds of Tennessee State University students looking for internships, full-time employment or co-op opportunities recently had plenty of selections at the university’s first in-person career fair since the pandemic.
More than 140 companies and potential employers converged on the main campus for the 2021 Fall Career Fair on Sept. 17. Representatives from government agencies, aerospace, banking, engineering, healthcare, and the entertainment industries set up tents, tables, and displays in the Gentry Center Complex to network with students about career and employment opportunities.
Organizers said nearly 700 students attended the all-day fair.
Katana Darby, a senior business administration major; and Shaun Wimberly, a second-year agribusiness major, were among the first students at the fair. They were both looking for internships. But Darby, who graduates in May, was also looking for a full-time employment opportunity. She thought her chances were good.
“Employers have been really good, informative and responsive to my questions,” said the Chicago native, who talked with representatives from Cintas, a Cincinnati-based business services company. She is looking for a position in human resources or any related field.
“I came to the career fair looking for open opportunities – internships, full-time and part-time positions – and things look very good,” Darby said.
For Wimberly, of Louisville, Kentucky, who was also looking for opportunities in human relations, or any area that can utilize his agribusiness background, meeting employers in person was particularly appealing.
“I am excited to be able to meet people face-to-face at my very first career fair at TSU,” he said. “I was able to make connections with employers to discuss how I can best contribute to their organizations.”
Wimberly and Darby may just be in luck.
Danita J. Jones, a 1991 TSU graduate and recruiter and business management specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said she came to the career fair with a job announcement for “someone who is hardworking with good communication skills.”
“I am looking for students in business administration, business management, human resources – someone to manage our district training program,” said Jones, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from TSU and started with the Army Corps of Engineers as a student aid.
Overall, employers said TSU students – in dark business suits and black shoes – came prepared, and were very impressive in appearance, approach, and presentation.
Antoinette Hargrove Duke, director of TSU’s Career Development Center, said a lot goes into preparing students for the career fair, including resume writing, and prepping for interviews.
“We are glad that it shows because employers are talking about the turnout and how ready our students are,” said Duke. “Additionally, we are very excited about the opportunity to return to campus after being virtual for over 15 months. The excitement among our campus and university partners is amazing.”
Kisa Caruthers, senior electrical engineer for Global Facilities at Burns & McDonnell, was at the fair as a recruiter for the giant engineering and construction firm. The TSU graduate said her company was interested in recruiting, especially minority students.
“Our goal is to bring in students who can take all of those fundamentals from the classroom and actually have some application to it and expose our minority students to the real life of engineering,” Caruthers said. “We are talking about internships, co-op opportunities, as well as full employment. The students today are phenomenal. They came very prepared. I am very proud of them.”
Among major sponsors of the career fair were Cigna, Berry Global, Inc., LG&E and KU Energy, Pathways Camelot Care Centers of Tennessee, and Smith & Nephew Supply Chain.
For more information on the TSU Career Services Department, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/careers/