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Putting on a career fair

Nate Surges, right, with other SMEF members during the SMEF coffee hour on Mondays.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Today is the Spring Career Fair (even though it doesn’t remotely feel like spring outside). So, I took the opportunity to sit down with my good friend, Nate Surges, and discuss his involvement in the Spring Career Fair through the School of Management Employers Forum (SMEF).

How many years have you been a part of SMEF?

This is my second year in SMEF (which is the student group that hosts the Krannert career fairs in conjunction with the Krannert Professional Development Center). I joined SMEF my first semester freshman year, so really this is my third semester.

Do you have a position in the organization?

Yes, right now I am currently the co-director of marketing and analytics for SMEF and that is a position that I started recently because the director is studying abroad. So I’m kind of taking over her role, and that’s been really nice for me so far.

What kind of prep does it take to get ready for the career fair?

I think there’s more preparation than many people would expect and think. So, for marketing, I’m doing a lot on social media, I’m designing fliers, posting fliers, putting them physically around campus. But also we have to plan the set-up for companies in terms of where they are going to be. We have to set up the whole ballroom and figure out where companies are going to be. We give them company gifts each year, we usually put together a little package to give them. We also have to plan our other events, for example Coffee and Critiques is one we do the day before the career fair. We have to plan that and get different recruiters set up in the second and third floor of Rawls to help with elevator pitches and resume critiques. And also we have interviews and company presentations that we do. So in a nutshell, there is a lot we have to prepare for – a lot of different events.

How many students are a part of the fair?

So in terms of students that are involved in working the fair, right now we have 33 SMEF members, and we also have 25 hosts. So each year, all the SMEF members, we all play a part. We have 13 directors and 20 committee members within the organization, and all those individuals will have a part in the fair whether that’s setting up the fair, taking down the fair, helping companies get set up, whatever that may be. But our hosts, we usually pair one person up with two or three different companies and kind of assist them, be their right-hand man or woman on the day of the Career Fair. So there’s quite a few students that prepare for the thousands of students who will attend.

Do you feel that you have a better understanding of the recruiting or hiring process as a result of being in SMEF?

Absolutely … I get a lot of benefits from being in SMEF, such as attending lunches with recruiters specifically for SMEF members. In that process, especially as a freshman, I was able to talk to these recruiters and see what their week looks like. A lot of these recruiters are busy, busy people. They’re going to a bunch of different campuses, they’re interviewing hundreds of students and getting a lot of applications. I mean, their whole goal for coming here is to pick out a few gems from a pile of resumes. And it’s a busy job so it gives you a lot of respect for what the recruiters have to do.

Do you feel the career fairs are important to attend?

They are absolutely important to attend – just to network. And I know people talk about networking a lot, but the earlier you can get your face out there the more benefit you’re going to have in the future. So if you’re a freshman going to the fair, which I always recommend that students do, the more companies you talk to the more faces that will recognize you as a sophomore and a junior…and hopefully the easier it will be for you to get your foot in the door. So, I really preach going to fairs early and often.

Do you have any advice going into it?

I would say absolutely attend Coffee and Critiques. That is something that helped me tremendously freshman year. I was able to meet with a recruiter from Shell who reviewed my resume and actually interviewed me as well the next day. So, it was pretty cool how that turn-around happened. Not only do you get great advice, but you also have a familiar face to see on the day of the career fair because you will have talked to a recruiter earlier.

How can people get involved in SMEF?

We recruit for SMEF each year in the fall, usually after the career fair is over in the fall. Our recruitment is in late October typically. You can also work with SMEF by being a company host, and you have two opportunities to do that each year in the fall and spring. And being in SMEF has been an absolutely incredible experience for me – networking with companies and being around some amazing student leaders within Krannert. I highly encourage anyone to either apply for SMEF or be a company host.

How many companies are coming to the career fair this spring?

Right now we have 97 companies registered. That number may increase by a few; we should have around 100.

A huge thank you to Nate for taking the time to answer my questions, and to SMEF for all their hard work in putting on the career fairs!


Caleigh Tiley is a sophomore at Purdue University studying Supply Chain in the Krannert School of Management.


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