By John CorriganM
Published in Web Exclusive
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Nobody loves free stuff more than college students so it's no surprise that hundreds flocked to the spring career fair at the University of Pennsylvania last Friday. About 40 companies set up shop with representatives on hand and plenty of promotional products to give out.
Andrew Martin of mapConnect said that technology is a big hit with students. "The USB drives always go before pens and cups," Martin said. L-3's David Robinson agreed, adding that earbuds were snatched up before the pens and sunglasses. "The sunglasses aren't doing too well. It's cold and there's no sunshine," Robinson said.
For Axalta Coating Systems, it's the company's first year of on-site recruiting."We surveyed our interns from last summer and asked what type of giveaways should we have for students," said Karen Piraino, global director of talent acquisition.
The answer is quite the unusual grab bag: pens, a Swiss Army knife style USB drive, and Silly Putty.
"Silly Putty is old school, but kind of fun," Piraino said. "At the last career fair we were at, a few representatives from other companies even took the Silly Putty."
Carrying all of these items around for hours was too much for sophomore Arjun Subramanyam. "My arm was hurting and it began shaking so people thought I was nervous talking to these employers," Subramanyam said. "But I'm not nervous. I just needed a bag for all this stuff!"
Luckily, IBM had orange drawstring bags available to lighten the load. "The ESF cups grabbed my eye because of the bright, vivid colors," Subramanyam said. "And of course, the free food never hurts."
Yes, walking around the career fair was like sampling from a mall's food court as various companies gave candy, Wolf Greenfield offered branded chocolate bars and Kraft Heinz provided a smorgasbord of products such as Mac and Cheese cups and Crystal Light packets.
Freshman Emily Yang doesn't have to worry about employment opportunities for a couple more years, so she showed up solely for the swag. "I got headphones, an iPhone speaker, and these pins because they're fun to display," Yang said.
As for other students, the promotional products are secondary to their main objective: finding jobs. "I'm more focused on my future," said senior Yi Xia, "but my roommates take shirts, pens and office supplies."
"Obviously, I'm just looking for jobs, but the products do psychologically help me like a company a little more," said junior David Chen.
"When you're trying to look for internships and you get worked up, this comes in handy," senior Bhu Mika laughed while squeezing her KenCast stress ball.
Oracle had the longest line of students, perhaps because of the free selfie sticks.