Elon University’s semiannual Job and Internship Expos offer students of all years opportunities to interact with potential employers. But these expos, including yesterday’s, have consistently focused on business students, with communications students receiving comparatively little attention and students of other schools receiving even less.
The Student Professional Development Center (SPDC) is working to change this, but, right now, the majority of employers at the expos are still looking for students from the business school, with growing interest in communications students. While the number of employers looking for students from different majors has increased, it’s still not enough to provide a fair balance across disciplines.
Elon is a liberal arts school. One would think students studying liberal arts here would receive equal treatment as students of the other schools. More than 2,500 students are majoring in the arts and sciences — a higher number than either business or communications — but the majority of employers at Elon’s job expos are looking for students from the Spencer Love School of Business, with the School of Communications coming up second.
The app that helped students navigate yesterday’s Job and Internship Expo allowed students to filter employers based on what majors they were looking for, the availability of interviews and types of positions.
According to the app, 50 of the 91 employers at the fair were looking for business students — accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, management, marketing or sales majors or minors. Only 28 were looking for communications students, and the app doesn’t differentiate between communications majors, which include journalism, strategic communications, media analytics, and sport and event management. Majors from the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education had even fewer employers listed.
The professional schools prepare students for professions, but these students aren’t the only ones looking for jobs. Students working toward degrees from the College of Arts and Sciences don’t necessarily want to go to graduate school, medical school or law school. These students, like their peers in the professional schools, are working toward degrees that will help them find jobs.
Arts and sciences majors already have to deal with the common belief that they will be unemployed at higher rates than other majors. They should be supported in their job hunt as much as students of professional schools are.
Sara Shechter, assistant director of career services for the College of Arts and Sciences, said she and others at the SPDC are working to provide this support.
“Arts and sciences is a priority, and we’re pushing for more opportunities with that,” she said. “I think it’s really moving in the right direction.”
Ashley Pinney, associate director of corporate and employer relations for the School of Communications, is bringing more communications companies to Elon. She has counterparts in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business who are tasked with doing the same for their schools. Pinney’s position was created last September, and in the months since, she said the SPDC has seen a marked difference in the number and range of employers interested in coming to meet with students.
A major difficulty Pinney faces, she said, is convincing high-profile communications companies to come to campus. Many prefer to set up virtual meetings, and while Pinney said she wished they would come to physically meet with students, Elon’s small size makes that unlikely.
Having virtual employers is better than nothing, though, and it allows students to have similar interactions to those they would have with an in-person representative. The number of virtual communications employers at yesterday’s expo was more than double last year’s number, which Pinney said is progress.
As Elon continues to grow, this will become less of a problem: More employers will come to campus, and students will be able to enjoy the benefits of having attended a prestigious school whose name employers recognize and respect.
Until then, though, students and faculty need to work with the SPDC to find employers who recognize the potential of Elon students from all majors and who are willing to invest in coming to campus for expos or information sessions.