West Coast University's Center for Graduate Studies held its first rehab therapy career fair this March, hosting recruiters specifically for physical therapy and occupational therapy program graduates.
WCU-CGS Career Services director Aida Topalian said 16 employers attended the event, looking to hire physical therapists (PTs) and occupational therapists (OTs) for clinics, home health companies or hospitals. Graduates from recent master of science in occupational therapy (MSOT) and doctor of physical therapy (DPT) cohorts were treated to an hour-long VIP session where they had an opportunity to speak one-on-one with recruiters. The remaining 90 minutes of the career fair were open to everyone, allowing students a chance to meet with many of the organizations they may be interviewing with in a few years.
"Career fairs are a great opportunity for students to come out and connect with employers early on as well as apply to these jobs," Topalian said, "because they are in fact hiring and they're here, right now."
How did Career Services prepare for its inaugural rehab career fair?
There's a lot of planning that takes place prior to the event. We worked with students to really build their resumes (CVs), their professional portfolios so that when they come here to connect with the employers, they're ready. We announce who's coming to the career fair ahead of time. The graduates have a chance to look at the career opportunities and apply beforehand, so once they do come in and speak to the employer, the employer doesn't have to say 'Hey, go ahead and apply to this job.' The grad has already applied to the job that they're interested in. It's really exciting to have that first-hand commitment from the student.
Should you focus on a few employers or meet all of them at a career fair?
Come with an open mind but also know which employers interest you the most. Make a list of who you'd like to speak with first but meet with everyone, because you never know what can come of just that one network, that one connection that you build with that employer.
Why attend the Career Fair, if you're not looking for a job?
It's really crucial to attend, even as a first-year student because you gain that experience. I encourage students to come out and start to build their networking skills, their social skills on how to really build and nurture these relationships with our employers. Ten out of the 16 employers here today are our current clinical partners. Our students could potentially be placed in these clinical rotations and then they can already have that connection so then they can potentially turn that clinical rotation into a job opportunity.