Inaugural Big Ten Career Expo to Take Place Friday
March 11, 2008
by Jeff Smith
As a soon-to-be or recent graduate of a Big Ten university, finding the job of your dreams can often times be a frustrating ordeal. Here you have put in four or five solid years and sometimes more on campus, you've gone through interviews, sent out numerous resumes, and yet nothing has surfaced. Help, however, is on the way, as the Big Ten Conference, the Big Ten Network and the Indiana Sports Corporation have partnered together to present the first annual Big Ten Conference Career Expo.
The inaugural event will take place in Indianapolis on Friday, March 14, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. EDT in historic Union Station.
This event was conceived a few years ago when the city of Indianapolis and the ISC presented the idea to the Big Ten as part of a five-year bid to host the conference's postseason men's and women's basketball tournaments. For more than a dozen years now, the ISC and the Big Ten have organized the Middle School Program, which gives aspiring college students a chance to follow a selected conference women's basketball team and earn tickets to watch that particular team play at the annual postseason tournament.
But with this bid came a realization that the ISC and the city of Indianapolis felt a need to provide an educational opportunity to current and recently graduated college students.
Thus the Career Expo was born.
The Career Expo is open to students looking for internships, full-time jobs and even Big Ten alumni looking for a job change.
Donna Imus, the project manager for the Career Expo, said the event was an important component in an effort to reward the quality education students are currently receiving on Big Ten campuses.
"Our goal is to make this the best career expo in the country," said Imus, a graduate of Indiana University.
That goal may be reached if the current numbers of registered participants and companies give any indication to the event's success.
Imus said as of March 11, a total of 1,452 participants and nearly 50 companies have signed on to partake in the Career Expo. It is a reaction that so far as surpassed their initial hopes.
"Our goal when we started out was to reach 1,000 students and alumni, so we are really excited to get this reaction from the students and businesses," said Imus.
She was also relieved with the response knowing that it was Spring Break this week on the campus of several Big Ten schools.
Still that has not deterred an impressive response from students, alumni, and participating local, regional and national businesses, which include Coca-Cola, Disney, Stryker Corporation and Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly.
Indianapolis is centrally located within the Big Ten region, but conference officials were adamant that the Career Expo reach out to all 11 universities, instead of just Indiana and Purdue, both of which are within an hour drive of the Circle City.
Imus said that was not only an important goal for the Big Ten, but also for the ISC and the organizers of the event.
"One of the challenges we had was to have representation from all 11 schools, and we have that," she said. "People are traveling great distances to get here. We do have a number of students from Indiana and Purdue, but we also have a lot from Illinois and Ohio State because of the location."
An interesting element of the Career Expo is the fact that it is a casual affair, unlike most job fairs where business attire is required. Imus said Union Station, which will also host the Big Ten's Big Party on Saturday, will be decorated with fan fare representing all Big Ten schools in a festive manner. Both the employers and participants have been encouraged to wear business casual clothing, and school attire is a plus.
"We want Indiana kids to wear their Indiana sweatshirts and we have encouraged the employers to do so as well," Imus said.
Students and recent alumni can expect to be greeted at a registration table where they will be given a credential and a map outlining where all the participating businesses are located. They are free to roam throughout the venue, stopping at as few or as many booths as they choose.
Should students have an interest in several companies and wish to alter their resumes, the Career Expo will have a "cyber café" in the venue, stocked with computers, printers and copiers.
"We'll also have a couple of televisions there in the corner so they can watch their current team play while they are finding a new team to play for," Imus said.
Not only do job seekers have a chance to potentially earn employment from the Career Expo, but there will also be an opportunity to earn tickets and prizes. A raffle will be held throughout the day, giving away prizes that include overnight stays at the Westin, Simon Mall gift cards, and 50 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament tickets for Friday's evening session. At 10 a.m. on Friday, personalities from the Big Ten Network, which is the official presenter of the Career Expo, will be on hand to talk to the registered participants and sign autographs.
Imus said both students and businesses still can sign up online to participate in the Career Expo by visiting www.bigtencareerexpo.com.