Although Valentine's Day looms on the weekly calendar, many UT students and area employers are already looking further into their future.
From 2 to 6 p.m. today, the Spring Job and Internship Fair will offer summer internships, part-time jobs and post-graduation employment on the court of Thompson-Boling Arena.Free pens and stress balls will be provided, but Mary Mahoney, the assistant director for Career Services, said the jobs are the true prizes.
"Students will come back later and say, 'I talked to five companies, I had two interviews and I have a job offer.' And we are always excited to hear that," she said.
Career Services began organizing the event almost an entire year ago, days after the previous spring job fair was over. The hard work pays off; today's job fair will bring in more than 190 different employers, including such well-known businesses as Macy's, Northwestern Mutual Financial and even the U.S. Department of State.
"Many of them are employers that we already have a relationship with," Mahoney said. "They come on campus to interview, they've attended job fairs in the past ... We also always pick up a number of what I call 'new employers', meaning new to coming to (UT), and it's because they'll hear about our programs."
Mahoney added that UT's top-ranked programs, such as the logistics supply chain major and the College of Engineering, help draw the multitude of employers.
"They know that there's quality majors at (UT) — we are a large recognized school — so the employers want to reach out to our students," she said.
Career Services also sponsored a Diversity Job Fair on Monday afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m. The smaller setting of the UC Ballroom attracted all kinds of businesses, from multinational corporations like Pepsi and Wal-Mart to local businesses like the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
These businesses all committed to hiring a diverse pool of applicants. The definition of diverse is broad, and students attending the fair were encouraged to define their own diversity.
Kenneth Bell, a recruiter for information technology company TEKsystems, explained that his company's interest in diversity is derived from customer service.
"We are looking at ways to be more inclusive for how we recruit internal employees," he said. "Obviously, demographics in America are changing every year, and so our customer base is changing every year. We want our internal employees to be a reflection of the customers we serve."
Although diversity was a prominent theme of Monday's job fair, many of the same companies will set up shop in Thompson-Boling today. And almost all of the representatives offer the same advice: do your research.
"We want to make sure that all of our applicants are aware of our organization, what it is that we do, how long we've been in business ... all of those important things," said Shelley Bell, a human resources representative for the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
Her sentiments were echoed by Brianna Ruggles and Hannah Certis, interning masters students in the college student personnel program who staffed the student check-in desk at the Diversity Job Fair.
"Be prepared and look up the employers that you would be most interested talking to, because there can be a lot of employers here and that can be very overwhelming," Ruggles said. "So I would choose four to five that you know you want to talk to beforehand."
Certis also mentioned the technological resources offered by Career Services, touting their Facebook page and Hire-A-Vol database.
Hire-A-Vol, sponsored by the student technology fee, offers students an opportunity to create a profile, upload a resume or cover letter and search for jobs. An updated list of employers who will be in attendance at Thompson-Boling Arena is also kept on the site.
As the assistant director of Career Services, Mahoney said the Hire-A-Vol resource is almost an ongoing job fair in itself.
"I think that's the key thing, that the student does some preparation and they have a list of employers that they do want to go talk to," she said. "You can speak more confidently to them, because you know what they're looking for and you know what you have to offer and how it matches."
Mahoney also lent a few insider's tips to making the most of a job fair. She recommended bringing plenty of copies of a resume and mentioned that arriving in the first half of the event may mean fresher employers.
"By the time six o' clock rolls around, they've been standing for four hours," she said.