Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

My Latest University Career Fair Observations

2014-10-02 17:35:51

Over the last few weeks I have been traveling all over the country to university career fairs, talking to intern and new graduate computer science candidates. There are a few things that I was pleasantly surprised by, and a few perennial red flags that I see every year, not only at career fairs but also in my initial phone screens with candidates.

Things I was impressed with this year more than in years past:

-Students were much better prepared to discuss their own experiences in terms of education, classes, internships, projects, and what they were looking for.

-The majority of students that visited our table had relevant degrees that matched to what we are looking for.

-We have several past interns that they had taken the time to speak with.

-The professionalism was much higher than even my experiences last spring in terms of resumes, appearance, and conversation (for the record, this year I visited UC Berkeley, UVa, and Vanderbilt).

At any career fair, most employers have some sort of a ranking system or categorization based on skill set, interaction with the candidate, background, etc. Students that acted generally engaged and interested in our company and asked questions tended to be more favorably viewed.

A few things I found disappointing:

-The “drive by” student that just “dropped off a resume” and didn’t take time to stay and chat.

-It is cheesy to just stop by for the swag. Really, really, really tacky.

-Obviously ill prepared questions: “so, what do you guys do?” We submit a profile and job descriptions to every career fair we attend. It is not CHEAP for companies to attend a job fair. We pay money for the privilege of talking to students. Do us the courtesy of at least reading the 3 sentence blurb we have sent that is in your program before you come talk to us. Or, here’s a novel concept: pull up our URL on your smartphone.

-Desperation is not good. I’m going to preface this by saying that I understand why international students attend US schools, but trust me when I say that we can tell when all you are looking for is someone to sponsor you versus finding a meaningful internship or job. It is a turn off. The message “I’m willing to talk to or work for anyone that will sponsor me” is a major NEGATIVE for employers.

So, next career fair, how will YOU be perceived by a potential employer?

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