by Sarah Baldwin MPP ’23
The Bloustein School Office of Student and Academic Services’ Career Center held a fall 2021 Meet & Greet/Career Fair, providing urban planning, public policy, and public informatics students and alumni an opportunity to network with a host of potential employers. The event, hosted over Zoom, was attended by 21 public, private, or non-profit organizations and approximately 30 employer representatives, many of whom spoke about available full-time or internship opportunities at their companies.
Each organization was given two half-hour time slots to offer presentations on their company’s mission and job openings, after which their representatives were available for an additional hour to speak with students and answer questions about the application process.
This year’s event saw more attending employers than in previous years, in part because the virtual format removed the cost and transportation barriers organizations usually face during the recruitment process.
“Somehow, the virtual event felt more personable. I was able to share a PowerPoint presentation and walk participants through it. Then, I was able to return to gallery view to take questions and have a more intimate conversation,” Breana Stevens MPP ’20, an analyst for U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO), said. “I had a student who was dialing in from work and she was able to listen in and ask questions in the chat box. An in-person event would not have allowed students like her this opportunity.”
Knowing there would be time for discussion after each presentation, students were able to research each organization and many prepared questions in advance.
“I was very impressed with the Bloustein School students. They jumped right in to ask good questions and had done their research on MAPC,” said Marybeth Boucher, HR Generalist for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. “I had a really good experience.”
Across the 21 organizations, sixteen employer representatives were alumni of the Bloustein School or Rutgers University, attending in the hopes of giving Rutgers students the opportunity to join their companies.
“These types of events have resulted in the Rutgers network growing at GAO every single semester,” said Silvia Symber, a Senior Analyst for the U.S. GAO and an alum of Rutgers University– Newark Division of Global Affairs. “We are seeing more Rutgers interns and getting this cohort of alums, and it’s been so exciting and rewarding to see that.”
Students like John Smith MCRP ’23 felt similarly, appreciating the chance to engage with Rutgers alumni within their fields and discuss potential employment opportunities.
“The representation of alumni was encouraging and the quality of opportunity was robust,” Smith said. “I walked into it wanting to get a sense of the opportunities in the field, felt my interest in equitable community development reflected in the selection, and walked out of it having made connections I have all the intention of returning to and materializing into job opportunities in the spring.”
The Career Center will be hosting another virtual meet and greet career fair for planning, policy, and informatics students in the spring. A similar event for students in the Bloustein School’s Master of Health Administration (MHA) program is also held twice a year.