SARASOTA, Fla. (Oct. 8, 2015) – Business and finance student Carlos Moreira came with a handful of resumes and “an elevator speech” in case he needed to impress a potential employer. But mostly he showed up at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s “Bulls in Biz” networking event Wednesday to learn more about the companies represented.
“I want to know what they’re about and the kind of job and internship opportunities they have available,” Moreira said after meeting Stephanie Murphy, human resources director at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. “I’m also here to introduce myself and tell them who I am.”
Clad in a tan-colored suit and paisley tie, the College of Business sophomore made the rounds at each of the tables where businesses had set up. Dozens of other students and alumni did the same, pausing at each one to chat and pick up a brochure or business card.
Bulls in Biz is an annual job fair and networking event where students and alumni meet with potential employers to talk about job openings and careers.
As it turned out, this year’s event saw the largest attendance since Bulls in Biz started in 2011. The 5 to 7 p.m. fair drew 27 companies and professional organizations, nearly twice as many as last year’s Bulls in Biz. So many signed up that organizers moved the event to the courtyard from last year’s spot outside Jonathan’s Café.
Occurring amid homecoming week, the fair exhibited a festive atmosphere with sports-themed inflatables and a nearby food truck. Many businesses gave away candy, pens, thumb drives, cookies and other items to entice students to their tables.
Liz Cotner, human resources director at CS&L CPAs, said the 60-year-old accounting firm has hired USF System graduates in the past, which is why she attended Wednesday’s event.
“They’re hard-working and they’re very well qualified,” she said. “This is also our way of giving back.”
Brenee Ferrell and Anthony Battaglia, both College of Business seniors, said they came for the networking opportunities.
Battaglia said he hoped to find a job locally but wouldn’t object to moving for the right opportunity.
“Ideally, I would like to find a job that can be turned into a career,” he said.
Toni Ripo, USFSM careers services coordinator, said events like Bulls in Biz are critical because they connect students and businesses in personal way. Job applicants too often are forced to reach out through email and online applications, leaving them nearly indistinguishable from other applicants.
“This event puts students and businesses together face to face,” she said. “First impressions are so important, and this helps the employers so they can evaluate if they would like to have further discussions with the students or alumni.”
An hour after arriving, Cotner, herself a USF alumna, said the event was already proving productive. A few candidates had emerged for possible openings at the Bradenton-based company, which also has offices in Sarasota and Tampa.
“We like USFSM candidates because they’re properly educated,” she said.