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Senior Year: The Career Fair, Part II

September 29, 2011

Tonya Vrba is a senior at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. She is double majoring in Journalism and International Studies with a focus on human rights. Tonya is the creator and author of Find a Job After College, a blog dedicated to helping college students and recent graduates find a job after college.

Read Part I of Tonya’s post here.

Blogger Tonya VrbaBy Tonya Vrba

It’s the day of the fair and time to give it everything I’ve got.

Before work I stop by a computer lab and print out 20 copies of my resume, figuring it’s better to have too many than too few. Who doesn’t need an excellent communicator? At work, it dawns on me that I should print out some of my articles and take them with me.

I make my way to the Student Union, where the event is being held. Immediately I am hit with a luxury I didn’t expect. I get a name tag, a book full of information about each employer and a map. There are 139 booths. Some companies have two, but there are at least 100 companies here. I take some time to circle on the map all the booths I want to visit. I know who I am most excited to meet. ASC Communication, Inc. had sent me an email back saying they looked forward to seeing me there. As I plot my plan for the fair on the map, I decide to pick a company I am less interested in first. This is my trial run.

I am not prepared for what faces me when I finally walk into the main area. Even though it’s later in the day, the amount of people crammed into the room is outstanding. As soon as I walk in, I am lost. Looking at the map, I confirm my location and head to my first booth.

AEGON companies are listed as looking for communications and public relations students. I’m pretty sure that I fit that, but I’m not really gung-hoe about their company. I walk up and introduce myself to a man who asks me what my major is. It’s clear right away that this is not for me, but I keep my smile and politely ask if they would like my resume at the end.

The experience was important, as I now had an idea about how to phrase my pitch speech. As I walk away, I am lost. There are too many people and too many booths. I head for the exit, take a breather and revise my plan into perfection. My original plan was to stop by every booth looking for journalism or communications majors, but there is no way I can maneuver around the mass of people that fast. Now, I make a note of the journalism booths as the only places to go. I also plan to walk out into the lobby after every booth visit, gather my thoughts and refresh myself on the activities of the next company I want to visit.

The next booth is ASC Communications, Inc. It appears I was expected, because they greet me with familiarity. I wish I had some advice at this point about how to stand out at the career fair, but I don’t. All I can say is that I clicked. Suddenly, I could see my future here. The conversation flowed perfectly. I left the booth with an interview scheduled for the following day.

“All I can say is that I clicked. Suddenly, I could see my future here. The conversation flowed perfectly.”

I stopped by four other booths. With some, I clicked as well, with others, not so much. I was very happy I approached Brooksource. I almost didn’t because they are based in Indianapolis and I want to live near Chicago if possible. When I walk up to the Brooksource booth, I discover that they are actually most interested in finding someone to work for one of their locations in Chicago. This was one of the companies that I clicked with. I vow never to avoid approaching a company based on location again. Who knows how big some of these companies are?

Satisfied with my career fair endeavors, I decide it’s time to leave. I am extremely excited for my interview with ASC Communications, Inc., even though, between work and school, I have almost no time to prepare.

I will not make any assumptions about how I came across in the interview. I know that it was one of the best interviews I have ever had. Even if it happens that I don’t get the job, I feel so very proud of what I accomplished.

“…my biggest and most important tip I can give a student is to research and email one or two companies before the career fair.”

My Advice to All College Students? There are many voices out there giving their own take on career fairs. I think it was more than worth it, just for the learning experience and the confidence boost it gave me. That being said, my biggest and most important tip I can give a student is to research and email one or two companies before the career fair. I honestly think ASC Communications, Inc. planned on interviewing me before they saw me at the fair. They were excited to see me because they already had an idea of who I was.

Sounds like the career fair was a success! If you missed it, here is Part I of Tonya’s story – the Preparation.

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