Career Networking and Recruitment Fair

VIRTUAL!!!!!  AUGUST 24-26, 2020

1. What is the Career Networking & Recruitment Fair? This event is an on-site recruiting opportunity that occurs early in the fall semester, typically the first or second week of September. For more than 40 years, this event has brought industry representatives and recruiters to the Department of Chemistry in order to meet students and faculty. This two-day event enables recruiters to meet and interview our graduate students as well as discuss science and possible collaborations with our faculty. There are some companies that come in the late summer months (July/August) to participate in on-campus recruiting, but the registration and interview form will let you know when each company is coming to campus. The registration form and a copy of your resume are typically due mid-July. Companies that have participated in previous Sponsors Days include Dow, Dupont, 3M, PPG, Corning, Henkel, W.R. Grace, ExxonMobil, and Houghton.

2. What are some resources for resume and interview prep? Penn State Career Services can offer resume review assistance as well as mock interviews. John Dodd, Senior Graduate Advisor, joined the Chemistry Department to help graduate students in chemistry focus on the job search process. John obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Penn State in 1981 and has been working in the pharmaceutical industry in various leadership roles since then. During his career, he has supervised over 100 scientists and helped them achieve their career goals.  Below are some of the ways that John assists our graduate students:

  • Mock interviews
  • Resume critique
  • Inventory of behavior and scientific skills
  • Identify areas for development
  • Discuss your real interview
  • Discuss career/family life balance

The Chemistry GSA hosts a resume and interview workshop with John Dodd before the Career Networking & Recruitment Fair registration deadline. The GSA also encourages all students to meet with John if they are looking for personalized feedback on their resume and interview prep.

3. What attire should I wear for the reception? Information sessions? Poster session? Interviews? Business casual is encouraged for the reception, while casual is acceptable for the information session. Professional attire should be worn for both the poster session and interviews.

4. Should I have a resume or business cards prepared to hand out at the poster session? Business cards and extra copies of your resume are encouraged, but certainly not required. The campus recruiters have access to all participants resumes, but they do not have a business card. The Penn State Multimedia & Print Center ( can print the official Penn State logo on business cards.

5. What information should my poster contain? ACS has poster guidelines that they have posted on their website for National Meetings: Older graduate students may also be willing to share poster templates that they have used at previous poster sessions.

6. How much time can I expect to talk with someone at my poster? The poster session is typically broken up into two sessions to accommodate all of the presenters. When this has been done in the past, each session is 1 hour and 30 minutes. The poster session is the best opportunity for interviewers to discuss your research with you, but they do typically have many posters to get to during each session. Thus, as presenters, we should be mindful of their time. With that in mind, have two versions of your presentation prepared – a short elevator pitch that is only ca. 2 minutes and a longer pitch that does not take more than 5 or so minutes. Always be on you’re A-game when giving your poster because this may get you an interview! Some companies reserve a few spots in their interview schedule to invite students who really impressed them during the poster session.

7. I am a third-year graduate student, should I participate? Absolutely! This is great opportunity to begin to build your professional network. Interviewers also like to see repeat students who have grown professionally from one year to the next (scientifically or personally), so participating early on in your graduate career is absolutely recommended. As a younger graduate student, this may mean that you will not be able to participate in many of the interviews though because the interviewers have limited space and time. But this, of course, does not mean that you will not get any interviews! The poster session is also a great opportunity to meet with the campus recruiters. If the recruiters liked what they saw on your resume, they will likely stop by your poster to chat.

8. I got the interview! Should I have slides prepared for the interview? Some companies will explicitly ask you to prepare a short presentation for your interview. Others may not, but it is recommended that you come prepared with slides that highlight your research accomplishments.

9. How long are the interviews? This is dependent on the company which you are interviewing with, but the interviews are typically 20 – 45 minutes. If you were selected for interviews, a staff assistant will send you a schedule for your interviews which includes the company, the interviewer’s name, the location, and the length of the interview.

10.  How many students have received interviews as a result of the Career Networking and Recruitment Fair?In 2018, over 100 on-campus interviews were completed by industry recruiters, and approximately 45% of those interviewed were chemistry graduate students.

Other general items to consider: If giving a poster presentation, prepare an elevator speech such that you can quickly cover your research and allow the recruiters to ask more questions if interested. Consider making business cards to easily share your contact information with interested recruiters. Print Center makes some. (Staples offers basic designs for cheap) Keep lunch and dinner times open in your schedule during CNRF. Occasionally, interested companies will offer to have you attend a meal with their recruiters to get to know you better. Consider keeping a change of business casual clothes with you in case you are invited to a meal or happen to spill on your clothes prior to an interview.