Job fairs bring recruiters to students
Minority college students and recent graduates had two key opportunities in October to network and interview with top names in journalism and mass communication, thanks to a pair of minority job fairs held in Raleigh and Washington, D.C.
The News & Observer's Diversity Job Fair, held Oct. 12-14 in Raleigh, and a national minority job fair held a week later at Howard University in the nation's capital were designed to help increase minority representation in the field of mass communication.
Sixteen UNC-CH students traveled to the Howard University fair, which was sponsored by Howard's School of Communications.
"We took two vans and two cars up on Thursday," said Bridgett Williams, a UNC-CH senior and president of the Carolina Association of Black Journalists (CABJ). The 16 students stayed overnight at a hotel and traveled back to Chapel Hill on Friday evening.
"Howard invites CABJ to come every year," Williams said. "We had almost double the amount of students that attended last year."
Although she had to travel nearly 300 miles to attend the fair, Williams said she did not mind the inconvenience.
"I think one of the advantages of having it in Washington, D.C., is that so many companies are in that area," she said. "It's really a central location."
Williams also said she was impressed with the size of the fair and the national attention it gained from students.
"I talked to students there from Penn State and one from California," she said.
Carol Dudley, coordinator for the dean of Howard's School of Communications, has worked with the Howard job fair for 13 years. She said this year's event was one of the best in the fair's 27-year history more than 700 students pre-registered, and organizers gave out more than 1,100 programs at the door.
"We're called the granddaddy of all communication job fairs," she said. "We had 90 recruiting organizations ranging in all areas of communications except speech pathology."
The fair even drew national attention from major companies in the industry who normally do not recruit, Dudley said.
"Companies such as NBC do not need to recruit, but when they see a pool of qualified and focused candidates like this, they come," she said.
The Raleigh job fair brought 31 newspapers and 40 recruiters from across the nation to the Brownestone Hotel to meet and interview more than 65 young journalists.
"It was like a jackpot of newspaper interviews," said Becky Beach, assistant to deputy managing editor of The N&O.
Students from seven N.C. universities attended the Raleigh fair, as well as students from universities in Florida, Indiana, Georgia and Virginia. The event was sponsored by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Newspaper Association of America, Knight Ridder, the American Copy Editors Society, The Triangle Association of Black Journalists and The N&O.
The event began Thursday with a symposium on race images in the media, an event co-sponsored by the Black Cultural Center at UNC-CH. That evening, 28 participants took an optional copy-editing test, which Beach said used the same format as tests given by most daily newspapers.
The next day, armed with student's résumés, registration forms and scores from students who took the copy-editing test, recruiters conducted consecutive 20-minute interviews from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"Some of the papers barely had time to go get water between interviews," Beach said.
Although both job fairs targeted young minority journalists, organizers say their doors were open to everyone.
"The recruiters came to target young minorities in the field, but the fair was not exclusive to them," Beach said. "Fairs like this are important because a newspaper must reflect its community."
Jay Eubank, director of career services at the UNC-CH School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said all students could benefit from attending such job fairs.
"Even if you're not looking for a full-time job, it's a great way to have your résumé or portfolio critiqued by professionals in the business," Eubank said. "This is one thing you can do as an individual to make the job process work well for you."
Jenny St. Clair is a senior in the public relations sequence.