Opportunities abound at biology fair

Fabiana Torreao

Brent Huberty started his microbiology career with an internship he found at the College of Biological Sciences’ annual career fair in the mid-1990s. He returned to the fair Thursday, but this time, he came as a recruiter.
Hoping to recruit four students for Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc., the quality control professional and CBS alumni said this was a nice way to close the circle.
“This fair is exactly what we were looking for,” Huberty said. “The kind of people that are motivated to come to this fair is exactly what we are looking for.”
The fair brought nearly 60 companies and organizations to the St. Paul Student Center’s Northstar Ballroom, offering students a wide scope of career and graduate opportunities. Organizers expected more than 600 students to attend the fair.
No other college or university in the state offers a biology-oriented career fair, said Kathie Peterson, the college’s director of student services. Peterson said that she was not aware of any such event nationwide.
“There is everything from molecular biology to wildlife rehabilitation,” said Kathryn Hanna, the college’s assistant dean.
Interested in a natural resources career, Jennifer Berg, a senior in fisheries and wildlife, exchanged phone numbers with interpretive naturalist Eloise Dietz from the Dodge Nature Center.
The center hired an intern from the fair last year and returned this year with the same purpose. Their display of fox and beaver pelts and framed fox, deer, raccoon and rabbit feces attracted many students.
“This is a great way to expose us to the different companies that are available locally and nationally,” said Brian Vieregge, a biology senior at the University of Minnesota-Morris.
The college advertised the fair to other colleges and universities in the state as well as in Wisconsin.
Graduating in biology and environmental studies in April from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., Andrea Chan attended the fair hoping to make contacts for a job or internship. She said she was pleased to see the professionalism of fair participants and students.
A dramatic change in the biological job market has resulted in a higher job demand for positions that were not as available five years ago, such as biotechnological laboratory work, Peterson said.
An increase in societal interest in biology has also helped to increase the demand for research, resulting in a higher availability of jobs, Hanna said.
Besides the exposure of students to career options and employers to students, the fair also offered a job interview workshop.
Paula Penning, an alumna of the college and a 3M technical service representative, offered three workshops giving students rÇsumÇ and interview tips, a presentation on appropriate attire for job interviews and skin-care advice.
“There is a difference between putting your face on for an interview and putting your face on for a Saturday night,” Penning said.
The College of Biological Sciences job fair was traditionally a biennial event, but because of increased student and participant demand this year, it became an annual event.
Some of the participants of the career fair were the American Red Cross, Animal Humane Society, Genentech, Inc., Kelly Scientific Resources, the Peace Corps, Sigma-Aldrich, St. Jude Medical, Inc. and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
The University’s graduate school and various colleges, such as the colleges of pharmacy, veterinary medicine, dentistry and genetic counseling, as well as the state’s pollution control agency and departments of agriculture and health, also participated in the event.

Fabiana Torreao covers the St. Paul campus and welcomes comments at [email protected]