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Senior Year: The Career Fair, Part I

September 28, 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. While studying abroad in Northern Ireland, she earned a Certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Ulster in Derry.  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.

Blogger Tonya VrbaBy Tonya Vrba

Perhaps I should be enjoying my last year of formal education, but my mind is too preoccupied with thoughts of the future. My goal this year is to achieve the Holy Grail every college student strives for – to be employed upon graduation. If I start early, I’m sure to be ahead of the game. That’s why, even though I don’t graduate until spring, I am going to the fall job and internship fair.

The Preparation

I’ve never been to a career fair before, so I’m not very sure what I’m in for. I start my research by finding out who is expected to show up. More importantly – who wants journalism majors? My choice of majors has very little to do with who was hiring who or how much money I would make. I went to college in order to be equipped with the skills to do whatever would make me happy. Who wants to spend 40 or more hours doing something they hate?

Well, here comes my day of reckoning. There are over 100 companies coming to my university from all over the country. How many are looking for journalism majors? 10. This will not discourage me. I am good at what I do and I will show those 10 employers that I am the best for their company.

I pick out a few to research. I am especially interested in ASC Communications, Inc. who publishes three magazines and a handful of websites geared toward various health professions.  They are located in Chicago, Illinois, which is where I want to be in a year.

“I take the initiative to introduce myself via e-mail to the few companies I am really excited to meet. I even attach a copy of my resume.”

As far as I’m concerned, the career fair has already started. I take the initiative to introduce myself via e-mail to the few companies I am really excited to meet. I even attach a copy of my resume. Everyone likes compliments and I know employers want employees who are passionate. The idea that I don’t stand a chance has come and gone. I realize as I send the messages and prepare for the fair, how dedicated I am to my profession. Looking over my personal statement about why I chose journalism I am overcome with determination. Even if this fair ends up being nothing more than a learning experience, I will milk it for all it’s worth. Tonya Vrba was born to write and write I shall.

My last step of preparation is to Google search “how to stand out at a job fair” and “when is the best time of day to show up at the job fair.” This endeavor is almost more discouraging than it is helpful. Some say to use a creative resume; others say to keep it simple. Some sites tell me to come early when the recruiters are more alert, others say to come later so they will be more likely to remember you and other sites claim career fairs are a waste of time all together.

Who needs Google when you have instinct? The job fair is from 11AM to 4PM. I decide to go around 2PM as this time is well enough after lunch but not so near the end as to have everyone more eager to leave than speak to students. I make myself a creative resume, but don’t go too crazy with it. A journalist should feel free to show off creativity – its part of the job description.

Thanks Tonya for sharing. Did the preparation pay off? Find out tomorrow when we post Part II!

Update: Part II is up!