Five thousand students and over 300 employers wearing iron-pressed suits will walk to the Bryce Jordan Center from March 20 to 21 for the Spring Career Fair.
Those who attend the career fair typically face two outcomes: successfully landing an interview, or nothing.
However, Lead Career Fairs Coordinator Corinna Fisher believes that attendees should take more away from the event.
“The primary focus of a career fair is to bring students and employers together to establish those connections and networks to be prolonged throughout your career,” Fisher said.
Many students, such as Jamie Stouffer (junior-accounting) , find themselves working an online application after attending.
“It’s hard for recruiters to remember you because there’s so many people and they tell you to apply online, and you never hear back,” Stouffer said.
Discouraging as it might sound, Fisher and Meg Handley, director of career and corporate connections, both believe that the story isn’t over and there are further steps a person can take.
Here are some tips to consider before walking to the BJC.
Do your research: The first step would be to establish a succinct list of your top 10 companies.
Chris MacGill, outreach programming and information associate director, believes that when students are doing their research, they should be sure to look at the company’s specifics and see if it aligns with the student’s passions in life.
Recruiters like Samuel Tietjen from Shell Co. believe that passion is what distinguishes the candidates.
“We’re looking for students who stand out and are passionate about the company and not just looking for an internship or job to have,” Tietjen said.
Fischer believes that the career fair can be a strenuous day, and it’s impractical to meet all 300 companies, so researching your top ten and having reasons of why you like those companies will be the most effective strategy.
Build your Career Fair Experience: There are five career fairs during the spring semester at Penn State, and each career fair caters toward student interests.
For example, the People-to-People Career Fair on Feb. 26 in the HUB-Robeson Center Alumni Hall gears toward students who are interested in non-profit organizations and social or human services.
Fischer suggests students should go to the People to People Career Fair if they don’t have that “corporate experience” or don’t want to work in a corporate setting.
“There are other ways to build your work experience by volunteering and working on soft skills,” Macgill said. “Employers want students who display those soft skills such as leadership, communication and teamwork.”
Ted Evans said he is going to the career fair in his sophomore year to gain experience for his junior year.
“I wasn’t expecting to come out with an internship, but I just wanted to get the experience and exposure among recruiters and it will just make me want to work harder for next year,” Evans (sophomore-accounting) said.
Set up an appointment with Career Services: At The Bank of America Career Services building, students can set up appointments with a career counselor from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Counselors can advise students on job searches, establishing networking strategies and modifying resumes.
“There are career advisers that are passionate about helping students with their resumes, career plans and goals,” Handley said.
Be confident: Many recruiters, including Timothy Ballas, campus recruiter for PNC Bank, believe that confidence is a key indicator of a candidate for a position.
“Employers want undergraduates who are confident and persistent to learning more about your role in the firm,” Ballas said.
Handley emphasized that students should practice their 30-second elevator pitch and focus talking about why they are a good fit for a company. Confidence can stem from the research of a company, scheduling an appointment with a career counselor and having as much exposure with recruiters.
Fischer believes that there’s only one outcome of a career fair — making connections and expanding your networking base.
“The career fair is about relationship building and networking with prospective employers, which can go into many different directions,” Fischer said.