Held Tuesday, Feb. 26, the career and internship expo on Southern Miss’ campus, while helpful for those seeking cookie-cutter desk jobs, was sorely lacking actual “careers” for the more creatively-driven students.
Refusing to attend the many career fairs offered every year in the Thad Cochran Center felt as if I wasn’t fully taking advantage of the resources afforded to me. However, my initial perception of the uselessness of the fair proved to be right. Each company searching for “all majors” or accepting students from the College of Arts and Sciences was simply hoping to find students to answer calls and fulfill sales quotas.
Giving the fair its due credit, there was a vast variety of local companies in search for students that filled specific, more technical roles. They seemed dedicated to finding students ready to follow the traditional path of manual labor-based or mindless button-pressing careers. Most, if not all, companies were very clear in their intentions for future employees. As mentioned, though, for students that wished to tread this seemingly dull journey, the fair succeeded in its mission.
However, if there was any takeaway to be gained from this experience, it was the fact that local businesses are clearly not interested in creative, inquisitive minds.
While companies outwardly expressed their desire to recruit dedicated minds, upon approaching almost every booth, students of the arts were clearly uncommon and, in many cases, unwelcomed except to fill a spot that virtually any undergrad could fill. I felt out of place handing my resume to recruiters who were clearly wholly uninterested in what I had to offer or any of my professional interests.
Truly, Southern Miss’ career fair provided an accurate, all-too-real representation of the harsh, highly competitive, soul-sucking world of job searching. If anything, nothing could have been more discouraging than fumbling around the unsympathetic fair packed with company employees that didn’t seem any happier to be there than I did. Though I clearly did not find my next few baby steps into the professional world in that hall, it was an almost surreal eye-opening experience.
Initially ordered to attend the fair thanks to a class assignment, I was informed that the career fair could be a career-defining experience as eager recruiters will be in attendance, ready to gobble up any faces that seemed willing to work. Wandering around the hall, however, the clear sense of dread in each potential employer’s face was easy to read. None of them looked as if they wanted to be there or greet students in desperate needs of employment after graduation.
Coming face-to-face with this notion of shutting down critical and imaginative in favor of the more factory-based, repetitive work ethic feels almost jarring. The world obviously isn’t perfectly cut out for our type, but this just shows that a bit more work is required to make it to that point of “success” within a world of arts and culture.
Rather than discovering a new career path, the fair assisted in finally providing a wake-up call. Employers aren’t rooting for you. No cordial handshake will be extended to you at the end of your extended hand. Doors won’t open on their own. There’s a grand career waiting out there, waiting to be fought for.
photo courtesy usm.edu