Nov. 10, 1997
UW-RF Intern Coordinates Successful Career Fair
By Maria Franco
UW-RF News Bureau
Each year one intern from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences is selected to coordinate the annual, one-day campus career fair at UW- River Falls. This year, that intern was Reedsburg, Wis. native, Karen Kundinger.
And Kundinger's estimation, along with that of professional staff and over 1,000 students who participated, the career fair was a big success.
The fair was a cooperative effort among the School of Business & Economics, the College of Education and Graduate Studies, and the College of Arts & Sciences. The cooperative education and intern office in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences was also involved in the seminar held on Oct. 21. It is designed to bring employers and students together to give both parties an opportunity to test the employment market. This year, over 1,200 students took advantage of the career fair to show their faces and their interest in the job market to over 100 companies.
Kundinger's job was to coordinate and plan the event, with guidance from a supervisor and an advisory committee. The UW-RF senior says she relied on the successes and mistakes from last year's fair, her initiative and common sense to pull off the event.
Kundinger's supervisor, Professor Terry Ferris of the plant and earth science department, commented that the intern's confident, "positive, 'can do' attitude went a long way" for the intern. "Karen is the type of individual who will jump in and get the job done," Ferris said.
Kundinger also worked in cooperation with June Schubert, the career services coordinator. This year the campus-wide career fair was held in conjunction with the department of counseling and career service's "Walk-Through Workshop." The department offered such services as mock interviews, advice on appropriate dress for interviews, resume reviewing and writing, as well as a lunch and dinner that instructed students on proper table etiquette.
Schubert said she was extremely impressed with Kundinger's efficiency, responsibility, and great ideas. Schubert stresses that the process of coordinating the career fair involves much more than mere paperwork: sending invitations to over 500 businesses, confirming their attendance, planning the schedule for the day and making sure that everything ran smoothly. According to Schubert, "There is a lot of detail involved and Karen handled it all extremely well. No one ever had to worry that things would get done--and get done efficiently."
Another major task was gaining visibility for the event, a challenge to someone who never considered herself a creative person. Kundinger devised the theme of "An Oasis of Opportunities," because of its warm, inviting appeal. The theme appeared on publications, brochures, bookmarks and flyers, and made Kundinger extremely proud.
Schubert noted that promotion of the fair had always been a bit of a problem in the past, but not this year because Kundinger had so many successful ideas. One that was particularly impressive was the idea of placing a sandwich board on campus to count down the days until the career fair as a reminder to students to get their resumes in order, to find the right clothes to wear to their interviews, and to be prepared for employers' questions.
The number of companies attending the fair this year was up about 20 percent from last year, and student participation increased as well. The fact that employers are recruiting because of western Wisconsin's healthy economy, along with the convenience of the fair (100 companies lining the walls for students to choose from), and the relaxed atmosphere makes it an extremely productive event. The campus surroundings are less intimidating then a formal interview, and, as Kundinger adds, "If you aren't satisfied, or don't hit it off with one company you can literally just go on and try again at the next."
Students are encouraged to bring copies of their resumes and portfolios to the fair, to talk to representatives, ask questions, learn what the companies have to offer and possibly get an interview.
In December, Kundinger will graduate with a degree in horticulture, and when she does she feels she will be a step ahead of her competition in the job market because of her experience as the career fair intern.
"Coordinating the career fair may not seem to have a lot to do with a major in horticulture, but I have always wanted to work with the people and the plants. It has to be 50-50 for me to be happy," Kundinger explains.
Kundinger has open options for post-graduation. Ideally, she would like to design landscapes, or be in sales. Graduate school is a possibility, too.
Schubert, for one, believes that Kundinger could pick any one of her ideas for the future, saying, "We were fortunate to have Karen coordinate the fair this year. She is quick and sharp, an excellent writer, a good student with a great work ethic. Just take one look at her resume and you'll see that Karen will succeed no matter what she does."