by Cory Hopkins | November 2017
Fair Prep and Last-Minute Adjustments
The All-Majors Career Fair is the largest career fair on campus, and one of the Center for Career Discovery & Development's signature events. This year the fair brought more than 350 of the world’s leading companies to campus to recruit Tech students for internships, co-ops, and full-time positions. The Career Fair is open to students from all majors and class levels and is an excellent opportunity for networking and professional development. To say this fair is a lot of work to put together is a massive understatement. Even under the best conditions, negotiating with numerous campus partners, coordinating with over 300 employers, and preparing for thousands of students takes some careful planning. When you add a hurricane into the mix—things get even more complicated. But that's exactly what happened to this year's fair.
Due to hazardous weather conditions caused by Hurricane Irma, the Center made the difficult decision to reschedule the All-majors Career Fair from the original dates of September 11th and 12th to September 18th and 19th. The decision was made after extensive consideration and consultations with campus partners and emergency preparedness professionals. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the C2D2 team, the Fair came together in tremendous fashion. The fair's numbers this year would lead most to believe that nothing out of the ordinary ever happened: 5,297 students attended with unique (one-time) visits, and 357 companies participated over two days.
Due to the size of the fair, it's easy to forget that it's run largely by students. The Fair has an executive board led by President, Jake Salesky (Senior, Mechanical Engineering). "The best advice that I can give to Georgia Tech students is to come to the fair well rested and full of positive energy." Jake said. "Recruiters are interested in students who are excited about the career opportunities ahead of them. Treat the Career Fair as a chance to prove to employers that you are someone that they will want to work with and that you will be an awesome asset to their team. You never know where a conversation will take you, so be sure to put your best foot forward on Career Fair day."
To prepare for each year's Fair, the board coordinates with organizations like C2D2, Parking and Transportation, the Office of Development, Institute Communications, Procurement, and GTPD. They are also in charge of putting together an in-depth Student Program (nearly 150 pages) for each day of the fair that includes companies attending and details, student requirements for attending, and what to bring to the fair.
This year the Center also introduced an easier way for students to navigate the hundreds of employers at the Fair, an app called Careers by Symplicity. The app allows students to pinpoint company locations, floor plans, event details, announcements, and more at their fingertips.
Avoiding Common Career Fair Mistakes
Career Development Advisor Dennis Lindsay offered some tips to avoid the most common career fair mistakes.
- Research companies. “When you show knowledge of the company and express interest, the recruiter is assured that your interest is genuine,” said Lindsay. “If you get to the Career Fair and see a company that you’re interested in but you didn’t research beforehand, step aside and use your smartphone to quickly research the basics.”
- Be professional. Although this may seem obvious enough, professionalism is more than just attire. “Recruiters need to see students as young professionals, not as college students,” said Lindsay. Avoid clumping in groups with your friends, and resist the urge to grab all of the free items. “Students are attracted to the freebies, but it is not professional to trudge through with a bag full of stuff.”
- Go early in the day. “Recruiters are burned out by the end of the day, and some employers might pack up early,” said Lindsay. He recommends getting to the fair as early as possible to catch recruiters when they are most alert and engaged.
- Follow Up. “Don’t wait too long to follow up with the recruiter,” said Lindsay. To stand out from the crowd, students should say something memorable that they can refer to in the follow-up, to help recruiters remember the conversation. “Take notes after speaking with the recruiters. Ask for their business cards and take notes on the back.”
- Don’t tell yourself “no.” “If a company is known as an aerospace company, that does not mean they are only recruiting aerospace engineers,” said Lindsay. “Companies are multi-faceted and need people in many different areas.” Lindsay encourages students to treat the fair like a strategic networking event. “If the recruiter is not recruiting for the area you’re interested in, then ask for a contact in your field. If all else fails, ask for a human resources contact.”
The Center will have a similar fair in the Spring 2018 semester, held in McCamish Pavilion.