Open-option students can take advantage of career fairs


Jessica Darland

Kimberly Ferguson, sophomore in mathematics, talks to Mutual of Omaha financial advisor Nick Billups at the Career Fair on Feb. 11 at Hilton Colosseum. 

Emma Blickensderfer

Open-option students at Iowa State can gain something from career fairs, which host employers from fields such as business, engineering and human sciences, even if they do not have a career path in mind.

Some students may enter college without a major because they are uncertain about their interests or because they have a lack of information on possible careers out there, said Cariann Bergner, director of Iowa State’s Career Exploration Services.

“The career fair helps with the career exploration process in general,” Bergner said. “I’ve seen students realize they are interested in careers that they never thought they would be.”

Open option students are often searching for the right match for their talents; employers can give insight into what majors and skills they are looking for, said Jennifer Owens, the director of Advising Services for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“I have seen open option students come away saying ‘Aha!’ when they realize the things that they can do,” Owens said.

In addition to opening students’ eyes to career possibilities, Owens said it is possible for students to gain an internship even though they do not have a major.

Sarah Curran, a senior and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Ambassador, said the career fair can also help students realize what they are passionate about.

“Going to the career fair can be a catalyst to making a decision. It really puts in your face how important it is to find something you care about,” Curran said.

Students can also learn how to dress professionally, create a resume and be a good communicator, Owens said.

Going to the career fair as an open option student builds confidence in talking to employers and helps students without career paths approach and connect to companies, Curran said.

“I talked to companies that just sounded cool, not necessarily the ones I was trying to work or intern for,” Curran said. “Going without desperately looking for a job makes it easier to gain the skills you need to land a job.”

The Career Exploration Services office offers a class, UST 104, which is a course about personal career development.

“Part of the class asks them to go to the career fair,” Bergner said. “It is very beneficial because the career fair can be overwhelming the first time someone goes.”

For the open option students who want to learn more about the majors Iowa State offers, there is the ISU Major Fair which takes place in the Great Hall on Oct. 27.

“All the majors are represented in the Memorial Union,” Bergner said. “Students can talk to representatives from any major to get a feel for what each college has to offer.”