Career Clench

KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 14, 2017

Employers search for new talent, students vie for jobs

When it comes to job hunting, Morgan Colston does her homework.

The industrial engineering technology major researched companies she was most interested in working for using the KSU Career Fair app, before she headed to the STEM Career Fair at the Marietta Campus in late February.

With her resumes in hand, Colston joined in the two-day event, which was the highest attended of any career fair at Kennesaw State to date, according to Ana Baida, executive director for the Department of Career Planning and Development, which organizes the university’s career fairs. More than 1,850 students and 160 employers participated in the two-day STEM Career Fair.

Despite being a few semesters shy of graduating, Colston landed two interviews for the day after the fair, and by the end of that night, had received an offer from Colgate-Palmolive.

“They weren’t on my original list, but I’m glad that I stayed open-minded and looked into additional opportunities during the fair,” said the 20-year old. “I have a versatile major, so I can work in almost any industry, from healthcare to warehousing.”

The full-time, paid six-month internship in customer service logistics aligns closely with Colston’s major.

“This internship could lead to a move into global supply chain with Colgate-Palmolive,” she said.

STEM Career Fair

Understanding Employer Needs

Colston has attended the University’s career fairs since her freshman year. Although she wasn’t looking for employment or an internship back then, she wanted to understand how the fairs worked.

“I needed to get comfortable talking with recruiters about jobs,” she said. “The fairs can be a bit overwhelming, and there is a lot going on.”

One of the biggest challenges for students is learning how to match their skill sets with a company’s needs, Baida explained. “Students must know how to sell themselves, and directly relate how their skills are transferable to the company.”

Companies such as Yamaha, Mohawk Industries and Georgia-Pacific often seek out Kennesaw State because of the diverse talent pool and the quality of students they are able to hire as employees and interns.

“This needs to be a great match for the students and the recruiters,” said Baida. “A career fair is a great opportunity to find those matches.”

State Farm, an insurance and financial services firm, began recruiting KSU students a few years ago. With the company’s tech campus just 15 miles from the Marietta Campus, they have hired students as interns since the first time they participated in one of the university’s career fairs.

According to Rachael Fulcher, college relations recruiter for State Farm, the company recruited from a large list of universities, but strategically cut that list by 75 percent a few years ago. Kennesaw State, which was not on State Farm’s original list, was added as a recruitment site.

“Kennesaw State is unique to State Farms’ needs,” Fulcher said. “The degree programs align with many of our key areas, like internal auditing, industrial design, software development and risk and compliance.”

DENSO Manufacturing, a global automotive parts manufacturer, assesses their current business needs and searches out students to meet those immediate employment openings during the career fair, explained Crystal Renner, an advanced specialist for DENSO.

“We want students to put what they’ve learned to work, so our co-ops are a year long,” said Renner, who tries to gauge students’ interests and determine if they are prepared for a cross-functional career.

“The diversity of Kennesaw State’s campus, students, and even the engineering curriculum itself, provides us with a one-stop shop in hiring potential employees,” Renner said. “We definitely get a return on our investment of time at KSU.”

Exploring Career Options

As recruiters work to find the right talent for their companies, students are also positioning themselves for their new careers.

Baida says that students who attend career fairs more frequently are “more comfortable and confident” when job seeking, but it also helps students with career exploration.

“Students may not know about all of the possibilities available to them, and when they are surrounded by job options, it lets them think more broadly,” Baida said. “Students who research companies in advance have a greater experience at our career fairs than others who randomly show up and don’t really know why they are there.

“Some students believe that since they have a certain major, it inhibits them from joining a particular company,” she said, adding that most successful job-seeking students are savvy in identifying why their transferable skills may be better than the major the company is inquiring about.

In addition to career fairs, Career Planning and Development also offers students tips on resume writing and interviewing. Each semester, the department offers five career fairs for students. The All Majors Career Fair will be at the Kennesaw Campus on March 22.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit