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Home » News » Alumni Return for Inaugural Awards & Career Fair

Alumni Return for Inaugural Awards & Career Fair

Published March 10, 2020

The Florida State University Department of Interior Architecture & Design and the FSU Career Center held their third annual Career Shaping event on Friday, February 21, 2020, at the Student Services Building (SSB) located on the main campus in Tallahassee, Florida. Following up on an extremely successful 2019 Career Fair, the 2020 Career Fair, an all-in faculty endeavor coordinated by Professor Jim Dawkins, proved to be another successful event with highly-prepared students and impressive vendors. Post-fair discussions indicated that multiple hires and internships are in the making. This year’s event showcased the rich diversity of architectural and interior design firms and associated industry representatives that value the competence and creativity an FSU designer can bring to the design workplace.

On Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, a welcome social was held at WJB in the evening. More than 40 students and multiple vendors attended the social to get their feet wet and have the opportunity to network and interact before the Career Fair. “I was more nervous about the social because I didn’t know what to expect, but it made networking much easier today,” said IA&D junior Allison Connor on Friday. “The social eased my nerves, and the entire Career Fair has given me so much positive practice for interviews.”

The day began on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 with check-in for students and vendors where they had the chance to fuel up for the day with a continental breakfast. After the welcome and introductions, there was an alumni celebration and keynote addresses given by alumni award winners. Sue Markham was awarded the Distinguished Service Award, Ronnie Belizaire won the Young Alumni Award, and Judy Brett was the Distinguished Alumni Award winner.

To continue the day, a professional Q&A panel was held to give the participating students a chance to gain professional life advice about how to progress their careers. The professional panel was made up of the following speakers:

  • Shawna Boyd – Nelson Worldwide
  • Jordan Gergely – Corgan
  • Shy Khalilahmadi – Gensler
  • Chad Byerly – Baker Barrios
  • Ronnie Belizaire – Daimler North America Corporation
  • Judy Brett – Coldwell Banker Commercial

“As faculty, we do our best to prepare our students,” said Department Chair Jill Pable. “This is a pivotal time where students can secure internships and jobs that affect the trajectory of their careers.” Professor Dawkins also spoke on the event, stating: “There has been great student interaction that shows our students are well-prepared to interact with professionals that are ready to challenge them.” Besides educating and informing students, Dawkins says that Career Fairs like this one give students a “good outlook on careers, internships, and full-time jobs.”

After a quick lunch, students returned to SSB with their portfolios in hand to kick off the Career Shaping event. Graduating seniors and graduate students were seeking entry-level positions and the third-year juniors and second-year sophomores searched for summer internships. “I wasn’t too nervous for the day, but there is an undercurrent of nerves because I’m graduating and it’s my first time at the Career Fair,” said senior Alejandro Marquez. “Other students that have come in the past few years know more about what to expect, but so far, I’ve realized that it’s all about networking and my personality. It’s not all about your work, it’s about creating a relationship,” Marquez went on. “I’m hoping that, through this opportunity, I can meet with more local firms and form connections with them since I’m staying in Tallahassee.”

For the 2020 Career Fair, vendors included:

  •  SESCO Lighting, Inc.
  • Conn Architects
  • HKS, Inc.
  • Turner’s Fine Furniture
  • Gensler
  • RGA Design
  • Architects Lewis + Whitlock (ALW)
  • Corgan Architects
  • Commercial Design Services (CDS)
  • Gresham Smith
  • HOK
  • American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
  • OEC Business Interiors
  • Dodstone Architects
  • Hudson’s Furniture
  • Baker Barrios Architects, Inc.
  • Accent Office Interiors
  • Nelson Worldwide
  • NEWH (The Resort Hospitality Network)
  • FSU Career Center
  • FSU Interior Architecture & Design Graduate School

Besides speaking to vendors and industry professionals, students also gained opportunities to take part in real-time interviews and post-event interviews in dedicated spaces at the Career Center. “Students all day were so professional and prepared,” said Andrea Runk from Conn Architects. “They are great communicators and show a wide depth of knowledge that has impressed us all day.”

Runk’s advice to students aiming to participate in a Career Fair? “Be prepared, dress professional, and own it.”