Education Career Fair gears up for another year of opportunities

  • February 26, 2024
  • Katherine Camarata

Whether students are looking to connect with like-minded individuals or find an effective way to network within their industry — or, if they just want to become better prepared for the hiring process post-graduation — there will be something for everybody at the upcoming Education Career Fair on Thursday, February 29.

The event is scheduled from noon to 3 p.m. in the SURC Ballroom, and organizers hosted a workshop Monday to help students prepare.

Students pursuing a career in education will have opportunities to speak directly with a panel of professionals in their industry and pick their brains for advice on how to set themselves up for success. With CWU’s renowned School of Education, and the university's history as a top destination for future educators, the upcoming Education Career Fair is among the first of its kind each year, according to Career Services Event Coordinator Kristen Paton.

She explained what students can expect going into the fair, which will welcome representatives from 43 different organizations.

“The employers who are coming are mostly school districts, but we do have a few other organizations coming,” Paton says. “They will be looking for mostly education majors, but also school psychologists and that sort of thing.”

Paton says students can look forward to the employer panel at 10 a.m. in SURC 137B, which will be livestreamed for east side campus students, followed by the LinkedIn photo booth at 11 a.m., available free of charge. Career counselors will be available in SURC 201 throughout the fair to consult with students about their resumes or ask any other questions.

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Paton says to get the most out of their experience, students can volunteer by reaching out to Career Services. They also can research which schools and employers will be at the event through the Wildcat Career Network, or they can book an appointment with Career Services to review their cover letter and resume. Paton recommends that students identify employers they are interested in and arrive with questions ready so they have something to get the conversation started.

“It's one of the easiest ways to get your feet wet with networking, because for these recruiters, this is their job,” Paton says. “They know how to reach out to people when students walk around the ballroom.”

Associate Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies Jennifer Dechaine recommends that students in their senior year attend the fair as though they were applying for a job. That includes dressing professionally, eating a healthy breakfast and researching employers beforehand. Students planning to graduate this spring should also bring their resume and be ready to put their best selves forward.

Likewise, Dechaine recommends that underclass students attend the fair even before they start looking for a job so they can know what to do over the course of their remaining years. This will help them start to build relationships with the organizations they hope to work for.

“When else are you going to get to go to a space where you can see many of the jobs that are posted across the state and talk to people with no pressure, because you're not looking for a job yet?” Dechaine asks.

Paton agrees that there is a lot to be gained from this career fair, even for second- or third-year students who are not yet looking for jobs but want to learn how to better prepare for their future profession.

“If you've never been to a career fair before, this is a really good one to start with, because they're educators, they love meeting students,” Paton says. “They get so excited, especially when they see their own alumni come in. So, if your high school is going to be here, they would love to see you. It's just such a welcoming environment.”

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Dechaine says she has witnessed students get offered jobs while attending the fair: “I can think of a specific math education student who wanted to get a job at a particular school district that was at the fair, and they interviewed her and offered her a job on the spot, and she works there now.”

While Dechaine notes getting hired on the spot may not always be the case, there are tons of opportunities at the fair, and students should use discernment when deciding which job offers to accept.

“We would advise students that they might actually get a job offer at the fair, and they should not accept it at the fair unless it was their dream school district,” Dechaine says. “They're trying to recruit them early, and they might have more opportunities later, too.”

Paton says there are unforeseen opportunities at these events, and that even after years in her industry, she still continues to discover new organizations.

“There are so many awesome opportunities out there, and I think we all know about the big-name employers,” she says. “But, sometimes, getting in on the ground floor of a smaller employer can give you a lot more opportunities. So, I think even coming to a career fair just to see what your options are can be really rewarding.”

Paton says over the years of planning this event, she has heard how much employers love attending CWU's Education Career Fair, specifically. She believes this contributes to the success of those who attend.

“I just feel so happy and satisfied when I hear from students that they've gotten a job,” Paton says. “I also get really happy when, for example — this happened last year and it's happening again this year — we had students from our east side campus who are traveling to campus to come to the education career fair, which is just fantastic.”

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