Inspired by future possibilities, more than 1,000 St. John’s University students flocked to Taffner Field House on March 30 for University Career Services’ Spring Career and Internship Expo.
More than 140 employers from sectors as diverse as health care, law enforcement, and nonprofit management introduced themselves to students, collected résumés, and offered tips on proper interviewing techniques. Students, meanwhile, made first-step connections that could prove valuable in their search for a professional fit.
“It’s a very good experience to meet people and connect,” said Judy Ann Regi, who will graduate in May from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ six-year Doctor of Pharmacy program. “There is a good diversity of employers here and it really is the best way for students to see what is out there.”
Employers ranged in size from smaller nonprofits such as the Developmental Disabilities Institute to Fortune 500 giants such as Canon USA, Inc. and Bank of America. They came from nearby, such as Maspeth Federal Savings of Queens, NY, and from miles away, such as Travelers Insurance, from Hartford, CT, and the Arlington County Police Department of Virginia.
Some employers, including global accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP and health-care giant Northwell Health, were making repeat visits to the University. Others, such as Madison Square Garden Entertainment, were making their first trip to St. John’s.
Either way, recruiters came prepared with advice for students looking to join their companies.
“Be dressed professionally and know a little bit about our firm,” said Ashley Banks, a Human Resources Generalist from Hauppauge, NY-based accounting firm Schultheis and Panettieri, LLP. “We want to see a good résumé, but we do not expect it to be heavy on professional experience. Understand that a résumé is a statement of a candidate’s values and gives us some insight into their background.”
Junior Caleb Otero came prepared, circulating copies of his résumé for a position in public service. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Homeland Security at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies.
“My advice to other students is to have a plan,” Caleb, from Bellerose, NY, said. “Go to the websites of the agencies and companies you are interested in, prepare some questions, and find out some information.”
An updated LinkedIn profile and a matching résumé can help candidates entering the job market gain an edge, said Ryan Howe, Manager of Campus Relations and Program Management at Madison Square Garden Entertainment. Résumés for entry-level positions should give recruiters a sense of the candidate’s background and intended career path.
“We want to see what a student does outside of the classroom, what their extracurricular interests are,” Mr. Howe said. “That can tell a narrative of what a student wants to do in the future. Then we can figure out where to place them.”
Taylor Klink, Campus Recruiter at PKF O’Connor Davies, a midsized accounting firm based in Manhattan, NY, said her firm regularly recruits St. John’s students who excel.
“We have a St. John’s intern right now who has been with us for two tax seasons.” Ms. Klink said. “We have had a great experience with him. It is wonderful to be here today to meet other St. John’s students.”
For some recruiters, including alumni Antonio Lipovec ’18TCB, ’19MS and Emily K. Lavelle ’03C, ’06L, a visit to the St. John’s Queens, NY, campus was a return trip home. Mr. Lipovec is a Senior Audit Associate at Grant Thornton LLP who got his professional start at a University career expo.
“I was at this event during my sophomore year at St. John’s and made a few good connections that led to an internship at Grant Thornton LLP,” Mr. Lipovec recalled. “Then I was hired and now I am back here. It all comes full circle, I guess.”
Ms. Lavelle, meanwhile, is Managing Attorney at the Lavelle Law Firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Physics at the University.
From an undergraduate science background, Ms. Lavelle pivoted to a career as a lawyer—evidence she says of the possibilities available to students who keep their options open.
“The biggest mistake students make when they come to career fairs is having a closed mind,” Ms. Lavelle said. “They say ‘I want this’ or ‘I am only looking for that.’”
“But,” she continued, “having an opportunity to speak with different employers from different backgrounds could create a job path you haven’t considered that may be the right fit.”
Andres Corona, of Centerport, NY, who is pursuing a Master of Arts in Psychology at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, came to the expo with an open mind.
“I’m gathering information, looking for opportunities, anything that might grab my attention,” Andres said. “You never know, something could be a good internship or job opportunity and I could get right to it.”