When most people think of retail, they picture a department store of clothing-racks adorned with inventory for the average Joe. For students at Mays, the Center for Retailing Studies’ Retailing Career Fair on Jan. 30 was the gateway into a booming industry—with a networking night that gave an extra edge to early birds.

Since a free-for-all career fair can be a bit overwhelming, students at Mays had the opportunity to meet with recruiters the night before. While students attending the fair can go online to get a list of employers, attending the pre-event lets them see the personalities they might be working with, giving a better idea of which firms are a “perfect fit.”

Recruiters from 40 companies headed to Mays—many of them coming home when coming back to Aggieland. One was Jennifer Norbin ’05, a former intern at JCPenney and now a full-time employee who’s hoping to bring more Aggies into the corporation. “JCPenney really helped the transition into work life and out of college life,” Norbin said. “It’s a very diversified company, and I love it.”

While each company put their own spin on why students should work for them, company representatives all shared a central idea: They want people who will grow with the company.

Store managers are needed, but opportunities are also available at corporate offices. Companies such as Barnes & Noble, Bridgestone and Dillard’s need people for marketing, sales, allocations and buying. Most highlighted their search for graduates who’d fulfill the “quality people” aspect that mirrors their products.

Retailers know the early bird gets the worm, so they use events such as the Retailing Career Fair to recruit productive students to represent their products. The fairs let retailers grab students while they’re hot, and teach them that once on the wagon, they should stay along for the ride. After all, as a recruiter from Adplex told students, “You want to be where the puck it headed—you don’t want to be where it’s been.”