Students will take control during a unique career fair on Nov. 8 at USFSM.

USF Sarasota-Manatee students to ‘turn the tables’ on employers

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: November 01, 2018

SARASOTA, Fla. (Nov. 01, 2018) – About 30 USF Sarasota-Manatee students will get the opportunity to “turn the tables” on potential employers next week as part of a unique job fair that puts students behind the interviewer’s table.

The event, called “The Tables Have Turned: USFSM’s Inaugural Reverse Career Fair,” is scheduled Thursday, Nov. 8, from 2 to 4 p.m., at the USFSM campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Reverse career fairs are uncommon but gaining attention on campuses as students look to spend more time connecting with employers to showcase their qualifications.

Unlike regular job fairs, where students answer a handful of questions while dropping off a resume, reverse fairs encourage students to act as interviewers, posing questions but also spotlighting their education and abilities. This, in turn, helps employers by allowing them to spend time with candidates tailored to particular job openings and internships.

USF Sarasota-Manatee fair to ‘turn the tables’ on internships

Ben Heins

“We wanted to create a career fair with added value for both students and employers,” Ben Heins, coordinator of internships and service learning at USFSM, said. “Traditional career fairs are typically hit-or-miss on both sides, but here, there is guaranteed to be a room full of amazing talent hungry for opportunity.”

Students selected for the event represent a cross-section of academic programs at the campus’ four colleges: Business, Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, Liberal Arts & Social Sciences and Science & Mathematics.

They were vetted several weeks ago, with information about the students sent to employers in advance so they’re able focus on those who best fit their employment needs. The students, in turn, have spent weeks preparing for the interviews.

Lukas Oest, a marketing major set to graduate in May, said that in addition to practicing for the meetings, he created a portfolio and business cards and plans to bring additional materials to make his interviewer table more memorable.

USF Sarasota-Manatee students to ‘turn the tables’ on employers

Lukas Oest

“As a senior, I understand the importance of building relationships with potential future employers,” Oest said. “The Reverse Career Fair will allow me to showcase my talents and skills, which is difficult at most job fairs given the large numbers of individuals who all have the same goal in mind. Here, you have the opportunity to stand out because the event is more focused on individual students.”

Also, it doesn’t place students in direct competition with seasoned employees, as at typical job fairs held off campus.

Simone Peterson, a neighborhood specialist for Manatee County government, said she’s looking forward to the event and calls it a time-saver. She appreciates that some of the screening work related to the applicants has already been completed.

“Finding talented candidates that also fit into our organization’s culture can be difficult,” said Peterson. “We’re looking forward to meeting the pre-vetted students.”

To RSVP your organization for “Turn the Tables,” visit

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