Fall 2017 SMC Job Fair

Students streamed through blue, white, and red booths, while recruiters waited for students to approach their tables. Wearing business attire and holding resumes, some students have prepared for this occasion long beforehand. Others stroll through and show a slight interest in the day’s change of scenery.

The Santa Monica College Career Services Center once again held the fall job fair this Tuesday, Oct. 24. The booths were filled primarily with recruiters from nationwide retail and food chain companies, including The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, McDonald’s, and Nordstrom. Local police departments and educational programs also fielded a large presence in the fair. At one particular booth, with a blue canopy spelling out the white letters "SMC Career Services Center", was Ann Marie Leahy, SMC's Career Services Advisor and the event’s organizer for the past three years.

Since August, Leahy reached out to companies and invited them to this year’s college fair. In addition to marketing the event, Leahy has also organized SMC’s first-ever Job Fair Prep Event to help students prepare on how to impress potential employers and maximize their chances of success.

The prep event helped students like 21-year-old Michael Sadri, a third-year Business Management student at SMC, on the importance of dressing professionally. Wearing chinos and a button up, Sadri said that if he didn’t attend the job fair prep event, he would have arrived dressing casually. He also mentioned that he had some experience at retail thanks to the job fair held two years ago, when he met a T.J. Maxx recruiter and was hired, working with them for a year and a half.

While students had a wide variety on how prepared they were for the event, company representatives had different assessments on what made an ideal candidate. Manuel Meacham, the District Manager for Dunkin’ Donuts, believes customer service and food experience would make his ideal hiree, saying he particularly looks for those who “can speak to what a guest’s need-states are and... [have] some food experience, particularly handling product date coding and cleanliness.”

But Monica Goers, Associate Manager for Coach at Santa Monica Place, said their company does not prioritize as much on retail experience, focusing more on finding bilingual candidates. “A lot of time we’re selling to tourists, so we like to have a team that all speaks a second language like Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese,” Goers said.

These companies have high expectations in the quality of candidates applying, partially because of the investment that they put in registering for this fair. According to Leahy, the “decent sum of money” the 50+ companies at the job fair pay in registration fees completely fund both the job fair and the Job Fair Prep Event.

“Because the employers actually pay to come here, this is a real investment that they’re making in our students,” Leahy said.

And although many students have shown their appreciation for the various career fields offered this year, a few have expressed disappointment about this year’s selection. Clara Claure , a 28-year-old Environmental Science and Engineering student at SMC thought that none of this year's employers tied closely to her interests, having recently transitioned from education to a science field.

Claure understood that it was difficult to bring science-related companies because many require a bachelor’s degree, but was hoping to see a few entry-level positions tied to her field.

“I would’ve liked to see more science stuff, just anything from the science field like solar companies and all that stuff… I’m kind of bummed I didn’t see that this year,” Claure said. "I see a lot of retail and stuff which is good for most students. Not particularly what I'm looking for, but I think it's good jobs like Chick-Fil-A so I think it's good.