Speed Dating Turned Scholastic: A Possible Alternative to the Traditional Job Fair


Published: May 5, 2010

The job market is looming ahead of college students and grads, and without some guidance and knowledge, it can be a scary thing to dive into. To deal with their fears, students turn to job fairs and networking events, hoping to leave with answers, guidance and calmed nerves. In a new attempt to keep up with the trends of the times, a number of colleges across the country, including Barnard College, have put a creative twist on the traditional job fair, turning the fair into a quasi- “speed dating” experience.

During these speed dating-inspired job fairs, students meet with professionals for a couple of minutes and gain information on possible career paths and professional opportunities. Although it may not be possible to get the full “mentor” experience in such a short time, hitting it off with your professional could lead to opportunities down the road, as students are encouraged to follow up with the professionals they have met.

While Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) has many sevices available, including Job Central and Recruiting on Campus, Resumé and Cover Letter Workshops, Internship Fairs, and interview workshops, they have yet to adopt the “speed mentoring” program.

Many FCLC students are enthusiastic about the prospect of speed mentoring and what such an event could mean for their future professional success.

“I think this would be a very good idea to implement. With all the numbers you get, you can then call [the professionals] up afterwards and they’ll remember you if you really stand out,” said Taylor Fields, FCLC ’12.

“I think it’d be a good idea. With job fairs you don’t have to streamline as much. This would help you figure out what’s on the top of your list and to figure out exactly what you want to get across to the person on the other side of the booth.You’d also have to have all of your questions planned out,”  said Caitlin Harcharik, FCLC ’10.  “It seems like they rarely have any career stuff at Lincoln Center, as most of it is at Rose Hill. This would be a good way to practice interview skills.”

“That sounds like a really cool idea. It’s a fast, easy and efficient way of getting as much info as you can in a short time,” said Ali Delgadillo, FCLC ’12.

However, some students are left torn, seeing speed mentoring as  a great opportunity that could possibly become a horrible letdown.

“I think it’s great for the number of people you could see but not for the actual interview,” said Gregg Ellison, FCLC ’13. “It would present a challenge and be hard to stand out with so many people, but if all the professionals were from the same field, it might be a good idea.”

“I think it’s definitely a new and innovative idea, but if I was an employer I don’t think I’d get a good idea of anything from eight minutes,” said Allie Peck, FCLC ’13. “When you take the time to actually go to an interview, you’re showing a dedication of time that doesn’t exist in speed interviewing.”

Other students blatantly dislike the idea.

“No, [I don’t like the idea], not at all. I don’t think it gives employers enough time to find people that are worth hiring. You can’t tell whether or not someone’s smart in a couple of hours,” said Alanna Parisi, FCLC ’12.

“The short time frame doesn’t give enough time to get info,” said Marc Valentin FCLC ’11. “It’s not like this works for speed dating either. You can’t get quality information.”

“I tend to be very traditional about my job hunt,” said Jake Leonen, FCLC ’11. “I think the traditional hunt allows your employer to know about you. This proposed plan sounds more like advertising.”

“Things have to be more spontaneous,” said Alejandra Salinas,  FCLC ’13. “This seems really forced and mechanical. You need something more free to get to know someone.”

At the end of the day, speed mentoring does not appeal to everyone, just like speed dating isn’t every person’s cup of tea.  Whether you love the idea or hate it, think of the bright side at least with speed mentoring you’re not likely to be warding off potential stalkers or telling a sobbing speed dater that you’re just not that into them. It’s all strictly professional.