1. All your friends are doing it. (Or, they will, if you go! Think of how inspiring you’ll be . . .)
2. There are, in fact, internships and other opportunities specifically available to first and second year students. A common misconception is that you must be senior standing to benefit from a career fair. However, it is often the case that employers are looking to recruit first and second year students as a way of “getting in early” and starting a long-term and in-depth professional relationship with future employees. Check out the employers listed at the Career Fair web page, for more information on who is recruiting for what.http://oregonstate.edu/career/career-fairs
3. You can stop and get coffee at Dutch Bros. on the way. And check out the new Beaver Store!
4. It’s a chance to see how long you can wear those fancy shoes before you have to take a break. Often, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to dress professionally as a student. For Career Fair, it is a chance to dress in your best business casual or business formal attire and practice behaving as a professional—which is what you are! It can be fun, and definitely confidence boosting.
5. You can eavesdrop on professional conversations! You will be walking through and standing close to many people who are conversing with professionals and recruiters from various industries. As a first year student, take advantage of the time to “listen in” and learn some of the nuances of a networking conversation. You might learn a bit about what to expect for conversations in your future, and what you might want to think about or practice.
6. Practice your “30-second Infomercial” or “Elevator Pitch”. Beyond just listening in, this is a chance to try out an introduction of yourself, your interests and skills. Because you may not be seeking employment this early in the game, there is little pressure to perform in a specific way—which makes it a prime opportunity to take a risk, and just give it a try. Who knows? You may learn something! If you need some help prepping your “pitch”, check out the example “30-second Infomercial” at http://oregonstate.edu/career/handouts
7. See who’ll be there next time. Career fairs occur at OSU every term except during the summer. While there are different employers present every fair, there are also returning employers. If you can introduce yourself this time, or get an idea of who might be there in the Spring or Fall, you’ll have a jump start on preparing, terms in advance!
8. Get familiar with the setting. It can be intimidating to walk into an unfamiliar place and attempt to put on a professional face. Use this time to just get comfortable with the environment—where to go, how to dress, how to drop off your backpack and what to bring. You can get an idea of the venue and the culture of the fair, so next time, you aren’t navigating any confusion in that way, but can focus just on getting to know the recruiters.
9. Find some motivation for those classes you’re taking. During coursework on campus, especially in the first two years or so, it can be difficult to see how what you’re learning is going to apply in the “real world” (Chemistry, Calculus, and Writing, oh my!). When you interact with employers in this setting, you may start to develop a more accurate and interesting picture of how your education now will be applicable in the future. The experience can also help you get a sense for what you might want to pay attention to and work on “between the lines” of the syllabi for classes. For example, how are your communication skills? Critical thinking and problem solving? What sort of transferable skills can you strengthen and learn, even while getting through that Health requirement?
10. Get some candy, pens, bags, and other forms of SWAG—all while making connections and practicing your social and communication skills the old-fashioned way, which most employers still value more highly—without a screen separating you from them! Collecting goodies is not the point of any career fair. However, approaching a table to grab a cool water bottle may open up interactions between you and any number of professionals. You will be creating connections, taking risks and learning about yourself and the world, in actual face-to-face encounters, which are becoming more and more rare. And then, as a bonus, you get to go home with some gadgets and pens and candy, as a reminder of your experience and some encouragement to come back next time!
Remember– University-wide and Engineering Career Fairs are next week, February 19th and 20th in the CH2M Hill Alumni Center, across from Reser Stadium! Stop by and say hi and have a fun and productive time!
~ Malia Arenth, Career Counselor