This year’s EOC to limit number of students in gymnasium

As students prepare to flock Wiegand Gymnasium this week and try to earn a place among the employed, the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) has announced changes intended to improve the Employment Opportunities Conference experience (EOC), including an 850-person cap on the number of students who can be in the gym at once.

The 850-person limit for the event, starting this year on Feb. 10 and 11 from noon to 5 p.m., was conceived as a result of conversations with Fire Safety Manager Rick Caruso, according to Associate Dean of Student Affairs for Career and Professional Development Kevin Monahan. Monahan said some members of the campus community, as well as potential employers, raised concerns over the number of people in the gym at once.

“I’ve been here for a year and a half and I’ve seen a handful of career fairs,” Monahan said. “And the staff of the [Jared L. Cohon University Center], myself, students, employers — we all saw that the events were overcrowded.”

Monahan said that, while no official ordered the cap, those involved with conversation about the fair suspected that fewer people should have been in the gym at one time during previous career fairs. After Caruso conferred with the staff of the University Center and members of the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) about the gym’s capacity, he determined the maximum capacity considering such factors as the number of exits and the square footage of the gym. Monahan said that, with an estimate of the employers and booths at the fair, the manager was able to determine the number of students allowed inside the facility at one time.

Speaking of wait times this year compared to previous years, Monahan said, “Usually, everybody goes into the gymnasium and then the wait times are waiting for employers. Since we’re only allowed to have 850 students in the gymnasium at any one time, naturally the lines for each employer are going to be shorter. Also with the concept that employers might be meeting with [a few] students at a time, that should also speed up their lines, and we’ve also asked employers not to do individual product demonstrations.”

Monahan explained that employers, in addition to not doing time-consuming demonstrations, have been asked to field common questions amongst groups of students, rather than individuals, if their lines become long.

“We also realized that this wasn’t a healthy environment to be so crowded,” Monahan said. “It’s not conducive to hold a conversation with a potential employer when you are in a very uncomfortable situation because of crowds and heat and noise.”

Those facilitating the career fair will ask students to move to Rangos 3, where CPDC Career Partners will be located this year, or wait outside the gym to enter once it reaches maximum capacity. The Career Partners will occupy 15 booths on the first day of the career fair and include such companies as Bloomberg LP, Dropbox, and Facebook, among others.

There are 189 occupied booths at this year’s EOC, according to lists of attending companies provided by the Career and Professional Development Center. The number of attending companies is less than the number of occupied booths because some companies attend both days or occupy more than one booth. Monahan said that the CPDC hopes to expand the physical space that the fair occupies in subsequent years to reduce crowding even further.

“We want to get students in there as quickly as possible, and we want them to have a good experience,” Monahan said.

“But if and when [the gym reaches maximum capacity], we want to make sure that students are aware that this is for their safety and that when they do enter the fair space, it’s a more positive, healthy environment than what they might have experienced at past fairs.”