Career center holds first Career Fest

Despite the pessimism pervading the job market right now, speakers and panelists at the first ever USC Career Fest have remained optimistic and are encouraging students to do the same.

Hiring · Marshall students have their résumés reviewed by professionals from finance, law, technology and other fields in Crocker Plaza. - Mike Lee | Daily Trojan

Career Fest, a week of events for USC students centered on topics related to job placement and the economy in every step of the career process, took place this week. Sponsored by the Career Planning & Placement Center, the event brought employers and experts to campus to help job seekers find opportunities and hone their job-finding strategies.

The week-long event culminates today with the “Career Fest Celebration in the Park,” which aims to give students a chance to learn more about various departments on campus and to meet different employers.

With unemployment at its highest level in decades, many students are seeking advice on how to find careers that will continue to flourish in the future.

Highlights of the week included the Career Fest 2010 keynote speaker, Ali Velshi, CNN’s Chief Business Correspondent and host of Your $$$$$, CNN’s weekend business roundtable program, and a discussion panel,  “Work in the New Economy: New Opportunities in Challenging Times.”

USC faculty members also spoke as part of a panel, offering their expertise to students.

Panelists included Geneva Overholser, director of the School of Journalism at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism; Larry Harris, a Professor Fred V. Keenan chair in finance and director of the Center for Investment Studies; Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior scholar of the School of Policy, Planning and Development, and many more.

“The main advice I gave to students was to make use of the Trojan family and alumni resources,” said Jeffe.

Overholser advised students to hone their communication skills, regardless of the industry they plan to enter.

“Communication is at the center of everything,” she said.

Given the current economic situation, Eileen Kohan, executive director of the Career Planning & Placement Center, said more students are exploring the idea of graduate school as a contingency plan. She noted that this trend has not led to any drastic changes, however, and advised students to first test the waters of the job market.

Overholser said the key for students is to be flexible when looking for their first job.

“Students must be nimble when thinking about their first jobs,” Overholser said. “Careers have a way of working themselves out.”

Kohan said students should follow their passion.

“Students should pursue what they want to do,” she said.