The Michigan Union Ballroom was transformed yesterday afternoon into a bustling hub of entrepreneurship at the fourth annual MPowered Career Fair.

The career fair, which is the largest on Central Campus, aims to expose students to entrepreneurship and career opportunities. Ninety-two companies and more than 1,300 students participated in the fair.

MPowered — a University student group of approximately 80 students who promote business creation — coordinates the fair. MPowered urges students to take an idea and turn it into something big, said LSA junior Matt Holtz, the director of the Career Fair Project.

With the depressed state of the Michigan economy, many students graduate from the University and leave the state to pursue careers with larger corporations, Holtz said. However, the fair hopes to combat this by bringing in local businesses that desire to recruit Michigan students.

“One of the main goals of the fair is to show students that there are more opportunities outside of corporate organizations,” Holtz said in an interview last week. “We want to help make Ann Arbor the entrepreneurial hub of the Midwest, and this is one of the only opportunities for small companies to meet students in this fashion.”

Working for an entrepreneurial company can provide students with hands on experience that allows them to have a direct impact on the company, Holtz said.

LSA junior Ankit Mehta, the president of MPowered, said the organization believes there are three ways to foster entrepreneurship: opening the door for opportunities, inspiring students to do business and supporting students who start their own businesses.

The fair hosted many technology and business companies and was open to students of all majors. The most job openings were in fields involving engineering, graphic design, accounting and marketing. The University’s Medical Innovation Center was also present at the fair and student-run companies made up one-fifth of the companies in attendance.

Students had the opportunity to introduce themselves to a multitude of companies, including MENLO Innovations — an Ann Arbor-based company that designs software. MENLO Innovations CEO Richard Sheridan said at the event that he enjoys being involved with the career fair.

“The MPowered Career Fair is a great opportunity that gives small companies tremendous exposure,” he said.

Amy Klinke, the assistant director for small company initiatives at the University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Engagement Center, said she became involved with MPowered because she felt there was a need for small companies to meet and hire University students.

Prior to the career fair it was hard for small businesses to personally interact with and recruit students. To meet this need, Klinke said, MPowered helped advocate for the development of the Center for Entrepreneurship.

“MPowered and the career fair create a multifaceted experience for students where they can meet and learn about small startup companies,” Klinke said.

Mehta said he joined MPowered during his freshman year so he could gain real-world entrepreneurial experience. The fair provides an opportunity for MPowered members and other students to network with small businesses and get job leads.

“It is a great way to talk to startup companies and draws in a cool mix of people to make it different from a normal career fair,” Mehta said in an interview this week. “There are people there looking to build ideas.”

Working for these smaller companies provides an opportunity to channel what students have learned in the classroom, Mehta said.

“MPowered is operated like a start-up company and is an organization where skills are transferable,” he said. “There are students at the fair who want to learn from each other and make an impact.”

LSA junior Linda Chang said she took advantage of the opportunity to talk to potential employers at the career fair.

“I had heard about the fair and compiled a list of companies I was interested in and then looked at their websites,” Chang said. “I was then able to talk to them at the fair.”

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