UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State held the first day of its Fall Career Days on Tuesday, backed by an economy that is continuing its rebound from the recession.
The second quarter of 2013 showed a 2.5 percent annual growth in the economy, according to a revised U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report. These figures are up from a 1.1 percent annual growth in the first quarter of 2013 and a 0.1 percent growth in the final quarter of 2012.
Sherry Rice, the career fair coordinator, estimated 520 companies were present Tuesday at the Bryce Jordan Center, recruiting from between the more than 2,000 Penn State students expected to attend throughout the day.
The focus of Tuesday was nontechnical, full-time positions. Coca-Cola was present for the first time in years, Rice said. DeAnn Baxter, manager of public affairs and communications for the Pittsburgh branch of Coca-Cola, said she was excited to finally recruit at Penn State.
“Being a Penn State graduate, I’ve wanted to come to this job fair for years,” Baxter said. “This year, the stars aligned. We have some positions that we think Penn State graduates can fill.”
Charise McClure, a Penn State graduate who was recruiting financial positions for Johnson & Johnson, said her company expresses a specific desire in Penn State students.
“Johnson & Johnson values what students here graduate with,” she said. “We have an ongoing relationship with business fraternities and Penn State’s Career Services, and we rent out a large area of the floor for the fair to get Penn State graduates.”
Lyndsey Berry and Jarred Sutton, recruiting for the ING Group, have noticed a large increase in hiring for their company. “Recently, it’s seemed like we’re growing exponentially,” Sutton said. “We moved into a new office two years ago, and we’re already starting to outgrow it.”
Brittany Reedy, recruiting for Wawa, shared similar sentiments.
“I like to call Wawa recession-proof, since people will always need gas and food, but we have really expanded recently” she said. “New stores are opening all over the East Coast, and Wawa needs positions filled across the board.”
This growth is not being enjoyed by all organizations, however. Staff Sgt. Michael Flynn, recruiting for the Marine Corps, said that military downsizing has put a strain on hiring.
“Our program is more competitive now than it’s been in a long time,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of applicants for a shrinking amount of jobs, so standing out as an applicant is important.”
Berry and Sutton echoed that thought, despite their company growing.
“ING only wants to hire people who want the job,” Berry said. “We won’t hire someone who doesn’t seem like they really want to work for us.”
“The jobs are there; graduates need to come prepared and take them.”
Jack Small is a Penn State journalism student.