Career Fair: Preparation is Key to Success
In thinking back to when I was a college student and how I leveraged (or not) the various services available to assist me in my job search, I can truthfully say that I could have done more. Yes, hindsight is 20/20 and the services have evolved quite a bit. But at the end of the day, I just didnât see the value â" I thought my grades and determination would be enough. While it worked out for me, the same approach might not work so well today. Fortunately, todayâs students are much more career savvy and are making the most of Georgia Techâs Career Services.
I sat down with Chris Fehn, a native of Atlanta who is a sixth-year industrial engineering student, to discuss his approach to the career search including his very own Career Fair tactics.
What do you get out of attending events like Career Fair?
Knowing that it is a critical step in the whole process of finding a good job, I actually attended last yearâs Career Fair to learn the ropes so that I would be really prepared this year when it counts. Career Fair is a great opportunity to see a host of companies in one place. You can literally get in front of the right people, place your credentials in their hands and make a lasting impression. For me, I try to present myself as a well-rounded candidate â" a balance of the GPA, work experience, and personality.
How did you prepare for Career Fair?
It is key to do your homework. Do the research on your list of companies â" do they focus on a particular major? Create a chart to help you map out what your companies of interest are looking for and see if it is good fit with you. Have a game plan and prioritize your time and resources based upon this. Develop a resume and then have it critiqued by Career Services â" it is extremely valuable to obtain an objective review of your credentials. Then start your approach by pulling your info and contacts. Lastly, donât be afraid of casting a wide net â" keep an open mind and pursue opportunities that fit your career objectives.
In regards to building your resume, what types of experience do you list that really speaks to recruiters?
I have the good fortune to include six semesters working as a Co-Op www.coop.gatech.edu. I found great work opportunities through Georgia Tech at Atlantic Southeast Airlines and RaceTrac Petroleum. This is a huge advantage when I talk to recruiters. Those experiences really build the confidence one needs in interviews. It gives you a great differentiating point... especially when you have a finite amount of time to interact.
Do events like Career Fair make you re-evaluate your plans and think differently about the future or does it confirm that you are on the right track after meeting person to person?
That internal inspection took place for me during the information sessions I attended at Career Services about the recruiting company â" another plus of being prepared and knowing the companies before you attend Career Fair. These information sessions allow you to ask questions and get to know the company in an environment where the stress of one-to-one interaction is minimal. This is where and when you get a sense if the recruiting company is a good fit. When you get to Career Fair, you pretty much have your target companies identified.
Any action items that you are doing today compared to prior to the Career Fair?
Not really. But I would emphasize the importance of perfecting your pitch to recruiters. Itâs often harder than you expect. If you can effectively verbalize what sets you apart from the competition and how your skills and experience match their needs, you will do well. And of course, have a genuine and sincere smile.
What is your advice to those who havenât participated in the opportunities, like Career Fair, offered by Career Services?
Get on it! These are not only great skills to help you land your first job out of college, but lifetime skills which you can use as you advance in your career.