Recruiters are people too: A VP of Professional Development's Guide to Career Fair

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As Vice President of Professional Development, it is my job to ensure that each member walks across the stage at graduation with a job under their belt. I provide the resources, the programming and connections to build member’s portfolios and equip them with knowledge they need to impress recruiters. September is always the busiest month on campus, as all eyes are turned toward Millett Hall on a singular Wednesday of the month when nearly 300 companies come to speak with Miami students for the annual Career Fair.

I won’t lie, Career Fair can be overwhelming. With so many companies in attendance, and so many students vying for jobs, its normal for people to be nervous. It wouldn’t be Career Fair without the nerves. I remember Career Fair last year, being a junior and looking for a summer internship that would hopefully lead to a full-time job. I remember calling both my parents for pep talks and feeling confident walking into Millett. Unfortunately, the moment I walked inside, I made a beeline to the bathroom and I had to calm myself down. I found trusted upperclassmen for more pep talks and finally navigated Career Fair like a seasoned pro. With that experience came a lot of learning and knowledge. As someone who has been to multiple career fairs, interviewed with (and was rejected from) multiple companies, and found a company and internship that I was and still am passionate about, below are a VP of PD’s tips on surviving career fair.

  • BREATHE. The biggest thing people forget to do. Everything will turn out okay, but don’t freak yourself out. Breathe and focus your mind.

  • Go into Career Fair with a game plan. Four hours may seem like a long time, but plan ahead and determine which companies you want to talk to BEFORE arriving to career fair because time flies by. You will spend more time waiting in line than you will be talking to some of these companies. Print out a map and map out your routes and the order in which you want to talk to companies. Rank your companies of which ones you must talk to, which ones you can talk to if time allows, and which ones you can skip over if need be. It helps prioritize and maximize your time.

  • Do your research! Look up to see what the company has been up to the past few days. Companies are always doing new things and if you’re interested, be aware of what new initiatives they are doing. During the research process, make sure you start formulating questions. Always ask recruiters questions based on their experiences or the role itself, and always apply online before going to Career Fair.

  • Find your defining factor. Whether it be your personality, your experiences, or other defining traits, find the one thing that will make you stand out from other students and capitalize upon it. Being memorable and talking with as many recruiters as you can will only benefit you in the long run.

  • Recruiters are people too! These recruiters want to get to know you, have genuine conversations with them and do not be afraid to show your personality. They were in your shoes once upon a time and they want you to be comfortable.

While all those tips are great for Career Fair, my biggest piece of advice is something to always remember throughout the job search process. Remember, everyone is on their own path. Yes, you will be surrounded by others who have job interviews and those who have job, but at the end of day they are their own person, and you are yours. Do not compare yourselves to others “success” as they have different goals and aspirations as you do. Just because you don’t have 5 interviews the day after Career Fair does not mean you failed. It means that you haven’t found the right company for you yet and that’s okay. We become stronger through these experiences and we know what we are capable of. I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason, and at the end of the day, know that you have done your best and that you will succeed. Everything will work out in the end.

-Blake Cortez

Vice President of Professional Development