NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making sure its students are not missing out on internships or employment opportunities, since many on-campus recruitment activities were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.
On Sept. 22, the university held its first-ever virtual career fair with a record 169 companies represented. Nearly 600 students from various disciplines attended. Handshake, an online platform that helps college students get jobs, facilitated the virtual workshop in collaboration with the TSU Career Development Center. Students directly interacted with employers through group and one-on-one sessions.
Reginald Holland, III, a second-year graduate student in agricultural sciences, and KeAnna Dakwa, a civil engineering major, were among the early participants in the virtual fair.
“This (virtual fair) was very unique and interesting,” said Holland, of Clarksville, Tennessee, who was looking for internship opportunities in the agriculture field. “I spoke with several employers. They were very receptive and interested in what I had to say.”
Dakwa, a junior from Huntsville, Alabama, who was also looking for an internship, said she felt good talking with representatives of major companies and agencies like the U.S. Department of Energy, Michigan Department of Transportation, Conoco, Duke Energy and DTE Energy.
“It was really awesome,” said Dakwa. “I really enjoyed the one-on-one sessions, and I really think I have a good chance of getting an internship, because of how I connected with them.”
Frank Stevenson, associated vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, described the record turn-out of employers as “a community-wide celebration of career opportunities for our student.”
“This year’s career fair was so amazing in that we had the largest turn-out of employers who were really interested in our students,” Stevenson said. “We recognize doing it this way, there is some value in the virtual experience. This was the result of a complete push of the entire university – Academic Affairs, the Honors College – to make sure our students were prepared.”
Unlike the in-person career and employment fairs the Career Development Center hosts each year, students who attended the virtual fair registered and submitted resumes ahead of time to be able to participate. The center also provided students with a virtual career-guide manual with topics that are normally covered during face-to-face interactions with employers.
“The goal was to make sure our students made a great impression and that employers had a good idea about what our students were looking for,” said Antoinette Hargrove Duke, associate director of the Career Development Center. “Additionally, many of these companies not only registered for this fair, but came prepared to offer jobs to many of our students.”
Company representatives said they were impressed with the TSU students’ presentations, outlook and approach, and that they had a very good grasp of what they were looking for.
Cornelia Butler, a TSU alum and continuous improvement manager of Detroit-based DTE Energy, said her company was looking for students interested in summer internships in computer and electrical engineering, with the potential for full-time employment.
‘It was so exciting to meet some of the TSU students, they are articulate, passionate about what they want to learn and where they want to go,” said Butler, who along with her husband and a son, earned engineering degrees at TSU.
“Just from their GPAs, from their experiences, and what they want to do, it was exciting to meet them. My goal definitely is to find opportunities for summer internships, and to get back with those students,” Butler said.
Cheryl Mabry-Shirey, manager of talent acquisition at The General, one of the fair’s sponsoring companies, also described the TSU students as focused, engaging, upbeat and positive.
“We talked a lot about our open positions and our internships,” said Mabry-Shirey, who also represented her company at the 2020 Spring Internship Fair, that resulted in internships for TSU students.
“Overall, it was very productive. We were more focused on internships and entry-level positions and full-time positions for people who are ready to go straight to work after school,” she said.
For more information on the TSU’s Career Development Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/careers/
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About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.