Wow, it’s been a while since our last post. Sophia tends to have so many profound thoughts, but all those thoughts are sitting in rough drafts right now, so I’ll go ahead and fill the virtual silence.
I want to touch upon one topic. It is definitely a key part of the college life and on college campus. Some people get really excited for this, others find it to be the bane of their college career. Some people spend days even weeks preparing for this while some others are just there to “check it out.” What I’m talking about is career fairs. Yes. I only speak of this because I went to one yesterday and I have another one looming over me for the next few hours today, and I’m currently debating whether it is even worth my time going to this. But I also want to bring this up because career fairs can be really REALLY intimidating and I know of people who are easily deterred by the idea of having to go put on a convincing pitch, praising oneself without sounding arrogant, to recruiters who aren’t even software engineers and they have to talk to hundreds of other people for the rest of the day as well…. It almost seems pointless. But I just wanted to impart some lessons I have garnered through my incredibly verbose experience (of 2 or 3 career fairs 😛 ) and hopefully this will be useful for you!
- Before the career fair, go find the list of companies that plan to show up. Whenever I go in with a handful of resumes into the fair, oftentimes I find myself naturally gravitating towards the companies that I’ve heard, which ends up being the companies that everyone has heard of! Google, Facebook, Visa, Uber, etc. Not to say that approaching these companies is at all bad! But especially for someone who wants to expand his/her repertoire and awareness in tech industry, it is of huge help to find the list of companies and to at least do a little bit of research so that one can target certain companies. You may even find yourself running across fields you haven’t even considered but are genuinely interested in 🙂
- Print a LOT of resumes. More than you think. While you may have done your research and you know which companies you’re going to, there are still quite a handful that will approach you first. In addition, you may find yourself attracted to this large crowd in front of a company you may not have heard of but everyone else has! Whenever you talk to a company, might as well give them your resume, even if you’re talking to them purely out of curiosity.
- I want you to really think about where your passion lies. I know, it’s a hard question. But because of the way that society is now incredibly career-oriented and people are constantly talking about the next internship interview or their full-time offers, it’s really easy for people to fall prey to just blindly handing out resumes and internally screaming “PLEASE HIRE ME!” But let’s think about this. If you are genuinely not interested in this company… why not spend your energy talking to a representative with similar interests? Why not delve a little deeper in whatever interest you may think you have to find a better gauge of “OMG yes, I do love this application!” or “ahh, I guess this isn’t really for me.” Which would you find more advantageous: scouring through the career fair and the only thing companies see from you is the will to be hired OR showing your genuine interest and thoughtfulness to a few? I would bet you probably have a better chance of getting hired by doing the latter anyway.
- It’s okay to not know what you want. This seems contradicting to my previous statement, but hear me out. There are variations of knowing what you want to do. You may know exactly what company and what work you want to do. You may know what field you’re working towards. You may have found budding interests in certain fields but don’t want to settle down yet. You may have absolutely no idea what you’re doing with your life. All of those and many other sentiments all over the spectrum is OKAY. I think what is most important is to stay true to yourself! When talking to companies, it’s so easy to adopt personas that may not truly represent you and represent what you want the company to see. But there is a sort of art of going about this. For example, if you don’t know what you want to do, it’s okay to mention that you are early in your career, but you’re eager to put yourself out there, try out new things, and adapt to new environments! If you do have a specific company and job in mind, you could allow the characteristics of those to inform your passions and what you talk about to other companies as well.
Those are my two cents. Career fairs are sure scary, I myself am so nervous to go to these. But my reasoning is, if I’m planning on spending a few hours of my day there… might as well make the most of what I got!