‘Tis that time of year again for recruiting organizations: spring career fair season. Yesterday one of my colleagues and I attended the University of Washington spring career fair, which is attended by both graduating seniors and some freshman/sophomore/junior students looking for internships. And it never fails to amaze me, year after year, that the same conversations take place.
We get in about 30-60 minutes early to set up our table. Putting out flyers, giveaways (pens, lanyards and candy this year). Then we wait for the first rush, which usually lasts for an hour or so. And here is the basic exchange between the employer and the prospective employee.
Student walks up. “Hi, my name is John Doe. What does your company do and what are you hiring for?”
Me: “Hi John, I’m Kristen. We are a software and media company. What are you looking for, an internship or a full-time position? What is your major or area of concentration?”
My colleague and I each had this conversation about 100 times each. Now, mind you, there are flyers on the table right in front of both of us that tell you about the company, the types of internships and entry level positions we usually hire for.
I’ve attended a *lot* of job fairs in my career as a recruiter, both for collegiate and industry audiences. And I must tell you that it does not make a good impression if you come to a table and say “what do you do”? I’ve never attended a job fair where we didn’t send a blurb on ahead about the company and sample job descriptions or actual positions we are hiring for.
Respectfully, I would request a few things from students looking for any sort of position. Please, research the companies you will be talking to. Just a basic knowledge of their industry should suffice. Keep in mind that I have provided you with information that you can easily look up. When you walk up to me, it is the first time I’ve ever seen and heard of you.
A better approach would be:
Student: “Hi, my name is John Doe, and I’m a junior Computer Science major looking for a summer internship in application development. I see that your software media company has listed that you are hiring software interns; can you tell me how I would apply, and how long the internships are?”
This allows me to arrow in directly on how to answer your question, give you the information I have, and quickly move on to speaking with the three people standing behind you. It also saves me from having to pry out of you that you are theater major and to disappoint you after we’ve established a rapport. It also sounds more polished and professional and that you have put time into the first impression you are making.
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