Article: Reverse Booth

What if the students at a career fair were the ones behind the booth trying to attract employers to come talk to them? It happens. Called "reverse job fairs," these events have changed the dynamics of traditional job fairs on several campuses.

The Illinois State University career center has held reverse job fairs since 2001. Registered student organizations are invited to host a booth to meet with employers during the events, which are called "Meet-the-Students." The career center gives prizes for the most outgoing student group, the best decorated booth, and the best overall booth.

With this arrangement, the employers are able to pick and choose from the student organizations that provide a good fit for their hiring needs.

"Meet-the-Students is well recieved by both employers and students," says Maureen Roach, assistant director of the Illinois State University career center. "The event places employers in a role reversal where they approach student groups to meet members and learn about the organization. Students learn to be outgoing and personable with employers to attract them to their booth. It is definitely a win-win for both students and employers."

The engineering department at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has held reverse job fairs for several years. The event is for juniors and seniors and provides opportunities for internships and full-time employment.

"This past year was quite successful with at least 25 employing organizations attenting," notes Diane Crist, director of career development. "The faculty did all of the legwork and marketing of the event. The career development center did classroom preparation with the students, mostly in the form of resume preparation. And the studnets had prepared poster presentations of classroom projects to have on display for the event and had a stack of resumes to hand out to employers."

The career center at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., will hold a reverse job fair for the first time this October. The center has invited select student organizations to staff tables, much like employers do at a career fair. The center also has invited its top 100 employers to attend and meet with these student leaders and groups to learn more about who they are and what they do.

"We constantly recieve requests from employers who want to connect with student organizations/leaders in their campus recruitment efforts," explains Lori DelGuidice, assistant director of employer and internship development at Rutgers.

The event, which will be called the "Student Organization Expo," will facilitate that connection.