College students love free stuff, so with free coffee, pretzels, popcorn, and candy, the Union Ballroom was bustling with UW-Milwaukee students and faculty alike Monday morning for the Exploring Majors Fair. UWM students came to the event to receive something more substantial than popcorn, though: information.
Booths set up by various departments lined the ballroom between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., offering students a chance to really get a feel for the programs that this campus has to offer, and the paths that are made available to them.
“The main thing I would want to get out of it is, anybody who is curious about the major, to kind of give them a sense of what it’s like and in that way, give them the best information possible to decide what their field of study ought to be, “ explained Rick Popp, a professor in the Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies Department.
The career fair was for much more than just the undecided students on campus. Those with their majors already declared could also be seen at the booths, inquiring about different aspects of their major and even trying to find a minor that would be suitable for them.
Criminal Justice Major and Junior, Christian Koester, was there to learn about how to thrive in the job market. “Like what kind of certificates I can get, what kind of extra things I can get to make (myself) more desirable.”
With each table adorned with neat piles of brightly colored handouts, there was plenty of information to pass around for those in attendance. But while there were plenty of students there in search of guidance, there were also students who were not in front of the booths but behind them.
Sitting side-by-side Popp, and cracking jokes, was Joe Tomcheck. Tomcheck is a declared JAMS major student and a prominent one at that, hoping to introduce others to the department he feels so strongly about.
“I was e-mailed and asked if I could volunteer for this, and I was more than happy to ‘cause I like the JAMS major a lot, and I actually talk to people about it a lot and I’ve sort of recruited a friend for it before,” said Tomcheck. “So I thought it’d be fun to talk to other people about why I like this major.”
Furthering his support of not only the JAMS department but also of its booth, Tomcheck also added, “We have the best candy here and maybe the only table.”
Many behind these booths had a strong passion for their department and rightly so. The goal that many had in mind was to sway undecided students into their major, knowing very well a short conversation with any of them could have a strong impact on their lives. Though this is an excellent strategy to have, behind the booth for Global Studies, Christine Wolf had a little bit of a different approach.
“I think my goal, first and foremost, is to help the students on this campus find the best fit for them in terms of a major or minor. So we want to share the information, but you know, our majors aren’t for every student,” Wolf said.
As the Academic Programs Coordinator for the Center of International Education, Wolf spends her time interacting with a wide-variety of students, giving her this big picture approach. However, as a former Panther, Wolf said she personally cares about fostering a good academic career for the students on campus, and seeks to give them just the right guidance.
“I talk to a student, and I find out what their interests are, what their career goals are, and then I help them decide if either a major or a minor is right for them,” Wolf said, adding “or even occasionally, if there’s some other program on campus that I think that they might be interested in.”