Over 2,000 students gathered to explore the opportunities of over 100 employers at the fourth annual Future Fest Career Fair on Friday, Sept. 15. The event — held in the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center (Rec Center) — was part of the Life Design Lab’s Future Fest, which intends to connect Hopkins students with employers, graduate schools and alumni.
Future Fest is a two-week-long series featuring several events across the Imagine Center, Rec Center, Glass Pavilion and FastForward U. Students can use this opportunity to explore career paths, prepare to market themselves to employers and discover opportunities to advance their education.
Executive Director of the Life Design Lab Matthew Golden explained the event series in an email to The News-Letter.
“We know our students are curious about future possibilities and eager to take action,” he wrote. “Some events support students broadly — for example, Friday’s career fair will have 120 employers coming to campus — while others have been designed for specific cohorts of students.”
These employers and universities filled the basketball courts of the Rec Center with rows of tables, each typically having one or two representatives from their respective organizations. Many of them had informational pamphlets and flyers for students to take home, in addition to the conversational resources they offered. Students could also expect to find at least a few tables with free merchandise, including items such as stickers and hats.
Students from all years came to explore their futures in big numbers. Hundreds of students filled the Rec Center, offering onlookers a scene similar to the Student Involvement Fair. Some organizations had lines stretching halfway down the aisles. Freshman Srisha Murthy commented on the tables in an interview with The News-Letter.
“It would’ve been nice if some companies had more than one representative,“ he said. “For Bloomberg they had one person, and there were 30 people in line, so I was never going to get in. I just gave up and left.”
Murthy’s observations were not unique to one company. Several organizations, such as Moderna and Illumina, had similarly long lines. Students could be found talking with friends or meeting new people with similar interests while waiting.
Additionally, some students felt that some career fields were underrepresented at the fair. Senior Katharine Durbin observed the phenomenon and suggested an improvement.
“I feel that the [Life Design Lab] office could potentially try to have more specific industry-related career fairs … so an event like today would be more streamlined and it could be easier to find what you’re looking for,” she said. “As a STEM major, I was able to find opportunities that applied to me, but I definitely felt like there was a lack of opportunities for people in the humanities departments.”
Assistant Director of Life Design Caitlin Broccoli provided one explanation for why there was a smaller number of humanities opportunities at the fair.
“Humanities, because it’s so broad, can sometimes be a little more challenging [to bring in employers],” she said. “But our job in the Life Design Lab is to help educate employers on the value that humanities students bring to their organization as well.”
While many health care, consulting and engineering companies could be found, there were also tables of government and broadcasting employers seeking students with analytical and communications backgrounds. Some tables, like the Defense Intelligence Agency’s, had a sign that said, “All Majors Accepted.”
The Life Design Lab collected feedback from students who attended the fair. Broccoli thinks there will be greater representation in future fairs after hearing students’ needs and comments.
“There will likely be a more diverse group of employers there and hopefully more students, as well, who would be interested in coming and seeing more employers,” she said.
Some employers at the Future Fest Career Fair took an active approach by standing up and walking around the table to have one-on-one, personal conversations with students. Students found other ways to stay connected with employers and alumni they were interested in, as well. Murthy shared his appreciation for the interactions he had at the fair and provided his thoughts on the ease of connecting with employers.
“It was nice that the representatives were Hopkins alumni, so it was relatively easy to speak to them and network,“ he said. “I think they gave a lot of good advice. I managed to connect with them on socials and LinkedIn.”
Durbin also expressed appreciation for the amount of employers and preparatory resources.
“I liked that there were a variety of employers,“ she said. “It felt easy to navigate the room with all the directions and ... there were a lot of resources available before and during the event for people that were new to career fairs.”
These positive experiences represent some of the larger goals for Future Fest that will continue for the festival’s duration. The series includes several events tailored to specific fields, such as Engineering Career Night and an event to explore public health graduate schools. The ultimate goal of Future Fest is to assist students to find opportunities that align with their passions and values.
Golden praised the amount of work that went into organizing the fair and expressed his hopes for the event.
“The Life Design Lab staff really went above and beyond these past six months to deliver 23 dynamic experiences that we believe will empower every student on campus to explore opportunities, connect with others and discover resources that resonate with their values, identities and aspirations,” he wrote.