The Center for the Arts Atrium was filled with sharply dressed students holding crisp résumés as they lined up in front of the various tables provided by the several organizations in attendance for the College of Staten Island’s International Career Fair and Panel Discussion.
The purpose of the fair, open to all CSI students, was to promote job and internship opportunities for students who study or speak a foreign language and are interested in working for international businesses or organizations.
Valeria Belmonti, Director of the Modern Languages Media Center and one of the organizers of the event, was happy with the turn out. “The companies represented diverse areas of business,” she said, as she fielded questions from students and recruiters alike. “Students are having difficulties finding jobs and internships in this complicated job market, and appreciate the opportunity to have jobs and internship opportunities brought directly to them on campus.”
“This is a great experience,” said Jane Kim, a Senior Business Management student and President of the International Business Society at CSI. She had just met with a few recruiters from College Bound, a not-for-profit organization that assists promising students with the tools they need to apply for, and succeed in, college. “For seniors,” Jane explained, “this is a great way for us to get to connect with potential employers.”
The list of companies with recruiters at the recent Fair included Sovereign Santander, Deutsche Bank, Verizon, Bilingual Resources, the Peace Corps, and even the United Nations.
Michael Roach, a freshman Accounting major, had another take on the fair. “Events like this give the younger students ideas for the future,” he said as he had just finished making his rounds of visiting nearly all the tables and was impressed by the variety. “A student who was unsure of what career they may strive for can really do a great amount of research here.”
Several of CSI’s clubs and organizations, such as the International Business Society, Center for International Service, Career and Scholarship Center, and the Italian Club, among others, were also in attendance offering information about services that are available to students while they are studying at CSI. Many of these tables were staffed by students who took turns visiting other tables, optimizing their experience.
The second part of the event began when the students filed into the Recital Hall to listen to three highly respected members of the international community. The panel consisted of Naima Charafi, a language instructor from the United Nations; Alberto Prieto, the President of Bilingual Resources, an employment agency that focuses on placing people within multinational businesses; and Carey Clinton, a regional recruiter for the Peace Corps.
Each panelist spoke about not only their respective organization’s purpose, but also about how foreign language skills play an important role as “many American companies are expanding their horizons to overseas locations. Belmonti also commented on the importance of language skills for today’s students. “I believe that the study of foreign languages and cultures is a critical asset for people today overall, as it helps build one’s better understanding of the world and develop a positive attitude toward people from diverse cultural backgrounds.”
Charafi, a language instructor for the UN, clued the attendees into why her organization is the perfect place to work for someone with a multilingual background. “If you are a language lover, this is a career for you,” she told the audience. She also discussed the steps that a potential employee may take to join the UN.
Carey Clinton, from the Peace Corps, focused more on a possible employee’s willingness to “take part in grassroots development” and become a part of “the community you live with.” He stressed that while one does not necessarily need to be multilingual in order to join the Peace Corps, it helps to be open to learning new languages and about new cultures.
Alberto Prieto, of Bilingual Resources, aimed his discussion at those who had been unsuccessfully making their way through the job market. “You need to learn how to navigate the maze and connect with recruiters,” he told the audience. Prieto, who has been placing college graduates in many industries since 1996, advised potential candidates to focus on their language skills to help them land jobs.
While each panelist addressed different factors in securing and retaining a job in an international organization, they all stressed the same overall theme, which was brilliantly expressed by Chaifi when she told the audience “you make your job,” when she was asked about the difficulties in getting started in a career in this difficult market.
The major takeaway from the whole event was the importance stressed on connecting CSI students with potential employers and allowing them to get a feel for what it takes to secure a career with one of the many international organizations in attendance. The road is long and covered with obstacles, but with a little help from the College and some dedication, the transition from student to employee can go much more smoothly than anticipated.
Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars – Eta Lambda Chapter, sponsored the International Career Fair.
Additional Sponsors include: Modern Languages Media Center, Career and Scholarship Center, Center for International Service, International Studies Program, Italian Club viva L’Italiano, Spanish Club, International Students Club, International Business Society and Student Government.