Letter to the Editor - Stop by the Career Fair
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 07:09
Today, the Career Services Center is hosting its Fall 2012 Career Fair in the Mountainlair Ballroom 10 a.m.-3 p.m., an event that has proven very useful to myself in the past and an event too often overlooked by many students. Is it the word "fair"? Is the thought of a ballroom packed with suited professionals intimidating to students?
Assumptions aside, events like the Career Fair draw a diverse group of employers, from big energy companies to Kennywood. These provide students with so many opportunities to learn about the industries, talk with professionals in an open environment and even land an internship or job.
In my experience, students seem unsure of how to engage employers outside of the traditional hiring process. Either students are entirely too timid; keeping a safe distance from recruiters and slipping in for pamphlets while they are speaking with other students is not going to make a lasting impression. Neither will treating the event as a practice run for Halloween, darting from table to table filling a sack with bottle openers, koozies and 10-cent pens.
What is failed to be realized is that these employers are actively searching for candidates and encouraging inquiries. This creates an atmosphere where both parties are selling and buying. Instead of winning a conversation through an impersonal resume, students have the opportunity to open the conversation with a question of their own. I learned about companies I had never heard of and learned that some career fields I thought might be for me were not quite as glamorous as I had hoped.
A couple years ago I walked into a Career Services Center Fair and was able to land two interviews set up through the CSC. I will admit that I completely blew my first interview of the day and to that day. It came when, almost at the same instant, the recruiter and I realized that this was not the job for me. Just 30 minutes later I entered my second interview and walked out with a summer-long internship. It all happened when I came upon an energetic recruiter working for a company I had never heard of before and opened with "So, what does University Directories do?"
Obviously, it is not as easy as asking questions when no one else will; preparedness and professionalism will ensure that any student can walk away from a fair like this with a positive experience. Many of the same rules apply to the fair as they do to traditional hiring. Having plenty of resumes, dressing professional, talking like an adult, and a short, simple introduction including name and major accompanied with a good firm handshake makes for a perfect presentation of oneself.
Students should be doing all that they can to gain as much experience as they can to accompany and supplement their studies. Any employer or any student who has had job or internship experience will say that it it isn’t just beneficial but vital. Take advantage of the opportunities provided by the school; they do it to make us exceptional, so that we can make them proud.
Jack Lake is a senior journalism major at WVU.