Who is the Career Fair for?
On most Engineering campuses, career fairs are held in late September and late January after students have arrived back for school. Companies use the career fair to identify students for interviews and to give out information about the company. But career fairs are not just for the companies. Career fairs are great opportunities for students to meet one-on-one with many recruiters for just a couple of minutes.
Does the career fair improve my changes for an interview?
The students I meet at the career fair are much more likely to get an interview with me. Of course, I look at submitted resumes, too. But when a student comes to talk to me in person at the career fair, I think they are really interested in my company and I appreciate their effort to come talk to me. It is a good idea to at least talk to the companies you would most like to work for. The career fair is also a great time to write down contact information about the recruiter.
There are many reasons for companies to come to campus for career fairs. How can students benefit from the career fair? I tell students to attend the career fair from Freshman year through Graduate school. Talking to recruiters is a learning process and it takes some time to get good at it. Some companies will be very upfront on their desire to hire only Juniors, Seniors and Graduate students.
When does it work to argue with the recruiters?
It is never a good idea to argue with a recruiter who says you do not qualify for their positions. The recruiters don’t set the rules, they just apply them. If you are not eligible for a company for some reason, you don’t have to walk away. There are still plenty of questions you can ask the recruiter. For example, if you are a Freshman or Sophomore and the company is looking for older students, you can ask, “When I am a Junior or Senior, what will you be looking for on my resume?” Or, “Are there any classes you would like to see me take?” Or, “Do you know of any companies that are looking for Freshman or Sophomores in this area of work?” And finally, I would also suggest showing the recruiter your resume and asking them to comment on whether you are on the right track. I had one student come to me for three straight years (6 career fairs) before I gave him an interview. By the second year, I started to remember him and I appreciated his persistence. After multiple visits with the same recruiters, you will probably pick up some good hints on how to eventually get an interview with the company.