Résumés in hand, 2,000+ hopeful and prepared Retrievers attend the 2024 Career Fair

Published: Feb 15, 2024

A gym filled with students and booths for a career fair
UMBC's Spring 2024 Career and Internship Fair. (All photos by Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC unless otherwise noted.)

On a perfect 55-degree sunny February day, hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students across all colleges stood in a line that began at the RAC and wrapped its way to Sherman Hall. Instead of exercise gear, Retrievers were dressed to impress with résumés in hand, ready to land a summer internship or a job with one of the 180-plus employers across multiple industry sectors at UMBC’s Spring 2024 Career and Internship Fair.  

“We are excited to help employers develop a strong talent pipeline and diverse future workforce, shaping the leaders and innovators of tomorrow,” said Paige Bauder, associate director of employer relations and recruitment programs at UMBC. 

A LinkedIn post of college students at a career fair
Image courtesy of Christine Routzahn, director of UMBC’s Career Center.

The leading edge

“Give strong handshakes. Maintain eye contact,” said Leon Tang ’26, information systems, in a booming voice, as he scanned IDs as a volunteer at the event. 

A person wearing a gold colored t-shirt holds a digital scanner for students to scan their plastic IDs
Leon Tang welcoming Career Fair attendees. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

“Some people might come in nervous. It’s over 180 companies, so it can be pretty hard,” said Tang. He currently has two internships, one as a business technology intern at Agile Care Enterprises, based at bwtech@UMBC, and another as a research assistant in the information systems department. “It’s a good way to tell everyone to be calm and be confident. It’s the little things that can go pretty far in obtaining something.” For the nearly 2,200 Retrievers that made it through the door that day, this was sage advice.

A professional headshot is one of those little things. After making it past Tang, Bhargavi Gudapati, a current master’s student in information systems, headed straight back to grab the 10th spot in a line that, over the next four hours, would consistently have dozens of excited and grateful students waiting for their free headshot. Gudapati, an international student from India, has attended every career fair since she arrived in 2022. She wants to get ahead of the steep competition of international students looking to launch the next phase of their career in the U.S. 

A student sits on a stool while a photographer takes their headshot at the UMBC RAC
Spring 2024 Career and Internship Fair headshot station. (Image courtesy of Christine Routzahn)

“It’s incredibly important to get to know employers in person instead of only on their online portal,” says Gudapati. “You want to know what they require and the current technology they are using.” 

One of those employers, Ed Belsinger ’90, M.S. ’93, mechanical engineering, is a newbie to UMBC’s career fairs. He proudly wore his UMBC sweatshirt and a smile that became a beacon of friendliness in a sea of students seeking opportunities. Belsinger is the director of product development at RPM Tech, a company that turns an idea into a prototype and a prototype into a fully manufacturable product. Because RPM does all the engineering and design in-house with a full shop and lab, it can offer students a wide range of expertise. 

Belsinger notes that RPM is currently in a growth mode and has three internships available as well as full-time positions. “As an alum, I said, ‘This is a great school—we have to go there.’ Whether it’s an internship or someone right out of college, we’re looking for students with curiosity, who want to learn, are willing to do new things, to be challenged, and be part of a team.”

Students at a career fair talk with employers
(l – r): Ed Belsinger (in grey) and Jonathan Dao (in black). (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

Hoping to grab one of the RPM internships is Jonathan Dao, computer science, a first-year student waiting in line to speak with Belsinger. “I saw tech in the name and wanted to learn more. I want to see if I can start early to have a competitive advantage,” said Dao. “I think first-year students should definitely give the career fair a shot. Come in with confidence, try rehearsing how to present yourself, and dress well.”

Part of the team

Sekinat Dosunmu ’24 agrees with Dao’s approach. After spending her first year of college remote, she has made it a point to attend every career fair in person. Toward the end of the day, she lined up at the FBI table, ready to discuss what the FBI had to offer someone like her with a global studies major, an Africana studies minor, and certificates in tech and intercultural communication. As she stepped forward, a recruiter immediately welcomed her.

While waiting to continue talking with Dosunmu, other recruiters shared that the FBI welcomes all majors, including the arts and humanities. They noted that the most important skill the FBI is looking for is how someone approaches and solves a problem in a team environment.

The artists approach

Solving problems creatively is the bread (or blood) and butter of C.C. Smith ’24, theatre, formerly known as Dracula in UMBC’s fall 2023 production of Dracula: a Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really. That role earned him an audition for a film later on in the day, so Smith is hurrying through the fair.

Later in the spring, UMBC’s Career Center hosts boutique career fairs, one of which is focused on creative careers, and on March 7, it will host the CAHSS Career Connection Social for arts, humanities, and social science majors, but that doesn’t stop Smith from checking things out. As an actor, Smith explains, you never know when someone is looking to do a commercial. “This is my first time here. I would like to see more performing arts employers in this larger career fair, especially with how good the arts programs are here,” says Smith. “As a senior, it’s still important to be poking around this fair.” 

Luna Siesko ’25, visual arts, and Alexander Schobitz ’22, visual arts, agree with Smith that UMBC students excel in the arts, and would like local employers to know about that. Siesko, a photographer and videographer at commonvision, UMBC’s design shop, used her skillset to bring personally designed business cards and résumés to the fair. Siesko is unsure what she is looking for but hopes that by speaking with some of the employers, like the folks at the Baltimore County Arts Guild, she can get a sense of how to best move forward. 

College students at a UMBC career fair, wearing backpacks, stand in front of tables speaking with employers
Luna Siesko at the Baltimore County Arts Guild table. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

“We’re a small non-profit five minutes from UMBC. We want to make sure that artists feel seen and heard and know there is a place for them to work,” said Gloria Fajimolu, program and events manager at the Baltimore County Arts Guild, a new employer at the Career Fair. “We’re very welcoming. If a student doesn’t get the internship or the job, they can still be a paid instructor. If they are in animation, we will pay them to teach animation classes to the community.”

A person sits at a table speaking with students at a UMBC career fair.
Gloria Fajimolu, program and events manager at the Baltimore County Arts Guild. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

As a recent alum, Schobitz has one goal—to get a job in animation. He is grateful UMBC gives alumni access to the career fairs and Handshake, a job listing app. “I apply to about 10 jobs per day. I use sites like Indeed and Handshake to find jobs and apply,” says Schobitz. “While I was a student, I used UMBC’s résumé services and made a lot of appointments. I’m still trying. I won’t give up.”

The end and beginning

A long line of students stand outside the UMBC RAC in between tall brick buildings waiting to enter a Career Fair to find internships
UMBC students lineup for the Spring 2024 Career and Internship Fair.
(Image courtesy of Routzhan)

Back at the headshot line, Cristian Castro, M.S. ’24, cybersecurity, joined the still-growing line as the last wave of students filed in. Castro is from Colombia and is looking to find a company to sponsor him to work in the U.S. “The Career Fair is a very good opportunity to see what’s out there. A professional photo is important in a LinkedIn profile,” says Castro. He also found some job leads earlier this year while representing UMBC as part of the Society of Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. “When it comes to what happens after graduation, every detail helps.”

Follow the Career Center on myUMBC and RSVP to the CAHSS Career Connection Social on Thursday, March 7, to network with alumni and employers in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

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