As I walked up the steps towards the Verizon Ballroom to the check-in table of an event I really did not want to spend my afternoon at, I started to get nervous – the room across from me was hopping with other student-professionals seeking the same experience I was – finding a job in “the real world.” And once I got my name tag, resumés wrapped in my arms and my life planner in my messenger bag, I strolled in to the hot people-filled ballroom.
Deep breaths, Julia. This isn’t your first rodeo.
I was totally right telling myself that – I had been to plenty of conferences and fairs before, but this one in particular was the all-majors career fair, meaning that a little liberal arts major such as myself was a bit intimidated at first. But then I snapped out of it because I was letting that stereotype get the best of me and I had just as much pizazz as anyone to be there.
I met up with one of my classmates from the professional development course, and we decided to tackle this beast that was this huge career fair – and we killed it.
What we had previously imagined as this intimidating space where the businessmen and engineers of the university world would take over, we each walked out with handfuls of free pens, a bag’s worth of handouts and information about each table we visited and an ease of nerves about the possibilities that surround us.
If the thought of free pens and notebooks won’t get you to a career fair, let me guide you a little further. You can hold my imaginary hand as you read this, but I think by the end you’ll be ready to walk through those doors on your own.
Point A: The recruiters at every single table, no matter what the company is, are being PAID to talk to you. Their job is to talk to college students like yourself and find out what they like and want out of a career, and then they want to figure out how to get you to work with them. It’s kind of like a blind date, or even speed dating. You dress up nicely. You brush your teeth and hair. Style your makeup a new way or wear your watch on your other arm. You rotate table to table and see which person… Er, company… You have the most chemistry with and go from there. Like I said, you’re there to find a job and the recruiters are there to win you over. The worst you’re going to hear is, “I’m not really sure how much writing you’re going to be doing here” (which is actually something a recruiter told me for a poultry company, which means they don’t use advertising or marketing, writing utensils or words ever in their daily tasks; it’s fine. I’m not that beat up about it.).
Point B: There were various tables at the career fair, and while it is wise to visit most if not all of them, don’t feel pressured to. If something doesn’t peak your interest, don’t waste the recruiter’s time by pretending you are. But if you see a Peace Corps table and something inside of you flares up a little bit, even though you haven’t ever considered going into the Peace Corps, why not check it out?
Point C: Bring multiple resumés with you to the event, and don’t be afraid to give them out – you’ve worked hard on your achievements and putting each of them neatly on a PDF to accurately represent you as a person and a professional. Be generous. Your resumé is a work of art, and you’re a masterpiece. Leave that little document with some of your favorite tables. It’s an invitation to see how hard of a worker you are and how you have delegated your time thus far in your college career.
A career fair is one huge social gathering. If it makes you feel better about going, take a friend or a classmate with you. My nerves were definitely eased and my breathing slowed when I ran into my classmate right in the beginning, and I knew hers were, too. This is totally an easy event, and like I said way back at the beginning of this post when you grabbed my imaginary hand in fear, free things are involved, and that always makes everything better.