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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Student-Employer Engagement a Focus of Just in Time Career Fair

The Division of Student Affairs is reimagining its Just In Time Career Fair through a pilot initiative introducing more deliberate networking.
By La Monica Everett-Haynes

“Through this pilot initiative, we are shifting the structure of the fair to strengthen ties between graduates and employers.”

The Just In Time Career Fair was launched more than 10 years ago and intentionally scheduled weeks before Commencement as a final opportunity to connect graduating San Diego State University students with employers.

The search for an industry position has changed drastically in that time. Today, a greater emphasis is placed on networking, as recruiters and employers seek people who present as a strong fit and can add value to their organizations. Also, the resume is declining as the most essential tool for job placement.

“The timing for the Just In Time Career Fair has always been ideal. Each year, we help hundreds of graduates find fulfilling jobs and enter careers in the very last weeks we have with them on our campus,” said Eric Rivera, vice president of Student Affairs.

“However, we found through our own research that students and employers wanted and needed more out of that year-end engagement,” Rivera said. “Through this pilot initiative, we are shifting the structure of the fair to strengthen ties between graduates and employers.”

With that, the decades-old career fair is being reimagined as an opportunity not only to help SDSU students with job placement, but also to orient them to expectations associated with the professional job search.

This year’s Just In Time Career Fair will be held from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 at a more centralized location in San Diego: the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. The address of the hotel is 7450 Hazard Center Drive.

Career fair admission is free for SDSU students, who will have the opportunity to meet about 50 employers. Students register for the career fair via their accounts in Aztec Career Connection. Event parking is free and a limited number of San Diego Trolley passes will be available in Career Services (SSE 1200) starting the week of April 9.  

Pre-fair networking

This year, a pre-career fair networking mixer has also been introduced, and is limited to 100 registrants to allow for more direct interactions between graduates and those who help them to land a job just out of college. Students can register online for this event.

Also, students who register for this networking mixer will be provided specific guidance on how best to manage an introduction and initial conversation with a recruiter and employer.

“This is such an important transition period for our students,” said James Tarbox, executive director for career development and services for SDSU's Career Services. “This is a critical moment to help them find jobs while understanding on a deeper level the type of experience they will have as they continue the job search throughout their lives.”

An important element of the pilot initiative is helping students to become even more accustomed to networking and interviewing in spaces that are unfamiliar, which is crucial for those who have not yet had an off-campus interview,” Tarbox said.

“It is time that we evolve the career fair and introduce new and different models for engagement. But by piloting this more intentional approach, we expect that our graduates will find it easier to land that first job out of college and be better prepared to successfully negotiate for other positions in the future.”