By Brian Sibille | LSU Student
Tiffany Walker buttoned her black blazer and fixed her hair, taking a deep sigh.
Walker, a political science senior from Monroe, stood outside the doors of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Tuesday, an entrance to the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
Along with more than 2,000 LSU students, Walker was on the job hunt at the 2012 LSU Career Expo, a two-day annual event that serves as a marketplace for students and businesses.
The event was separated by career fields. Tuesday catered to students interested in liberal arts and business jobs, as well as those wanting to attend graduate school. Wednesday was for aspiring engineers, scientists and technological experts.
This year's expo was the biggest yet with more than 250 businesses recruiting between both days, said Trey Truitt, associate director of employment services at LSU Career Services.
The growth of the expo is a sign of the times, Truitt said.
While many fear a high unemployment rate and the remnants of a national recession, Truitt said the reality is anything but "doom and gloom.
"The Career Expo is debunking that myth," he said.
Truitt said many employers return to the Career Expo after a few years, eager to begin recruiting from a pool of young college grads.
Lee Mitchell, recruitment manager for MRE Consulting of Houston, said age is not factor when she looks for potential new employees.
"What we're looking for is a go-getter, someone who is willing to jump right in."
She said about 15 percent of her company's workers are LSU graduates.
Many students believe they do not need to attend the Career Expo until they are close to graduation, but that's too late, Truitt said.
He said a potential career should be on a student's mind when he or she begins college because work experience is more important than ever.
"Work experience is almost a requirement now," Truitt said. "It's not just working on campus or waiting tables. Many people are looking for internships now."
Mark Racioppi is heeding that advice.
Racioppi is only a sophomore, but after spending "countless hours" on a resume, he went to the Career Expo hoping to leave with an internship.
"Most places are looking for full-time employees, but some are looking for interns," Racioppi said.
The business marketing student from The Woodlands, Texas, said making connections is a major part of the process.
Jeff Meariman with Cameron International agreed, saying networking is the single most important step a college student can take regardless of the field he or she wants to enter.