When it comes to job fairs, there is usually a cookie cutter way of running them. Businesses set up tables or booths in a large room with the hopes that prospective employees stop by and talk with them.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Wayne Smith, chair of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the School of Business, decided it may be time to change up the standard job fair. He wanted to flip it. Instead of the business recruiters anchored in one area of a large room, students would be ones that were stationary and the employers would walk around seeking the students out.

International business major Emma Hart attracts employers to her table at the flipped job fair with a sign reading ‘Head for Business, Hart for Hospitality.’ (Photo by Heather Moran)

Smith says the department was looking for a unique way to showcase their students to area businesses. This new format, he says, allows the students and the businesses to become better aquatinted. Businesses participating in the fair received the resumes of the undergraduates prior to the event, allowing the companies to map out which students they wanted to target during the fair.

“What we are doing is guaranteeing to our business partners that we have people who are interested in their businesses,” explains Smith. “It is not like the traditional job fair where businesses are not sure of who is coming through the door. You know exactly who is here and you can use that advantage to come up with strategies to attract the best students.”

Smith says 50 businesses and more than 80 students participated in the inaugural Flip the Fair Career Fair on Feb. 19, 2019.

And the flipped approach yielded better engagement between students and employers, says Jeremy Clement, internship coordinator for the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

“We wanted to make sure we were efficient and effective in the mission, which is to find students employment homes and find employers the students that they’re looking for,” says Clement. “The students are ready. They’re prepared, they’re engaged and excited about being here.”

Hospitality and tourism management major Gabrielle Accorsi was one of the seniors participating in this event. She smiled as she greeted and chatted with each of the potential employers who stopped by her table. Along with the placard announcing her name, Accorsi adorned her table with several folders and brochures highlighting some of her past work as an event coordinator.

She says she liked the new format better than that of traditional job fairs.

“A lot of times, I feel awkward walking to the different tables at job fairs,” says Accorsi. “It is kind of cool that the situation is reversed.”

Senior business administration major Emmalee Reese also liked the new format.

“It is nice because they know what they are looking for and we know what we are looking for,” says Reese. “It kind of evens the playing field.”