Heard it in class last week. “You going to the Career Fair?” “No, I don’t see any employers there for HHD.”
Getting your first job or getting into graduate school requires a plan for all 4 years you are in college. And the purpose of a Career Fair in that plan is way more than just finding the one employer who makes you an offer.
Let’s start with that first one. Way too many students wait until their senior year to visit Career Services. Think about your 4 years as 4 different ways to take advantage of Career Services.
Year 1: EXPLORE As you are exploring and confirming your major, you should be doing some exploring careers and occupations. THERE’S NOT A 1-1 CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN MAJORS AND JOBS. For example, almost every major in HHD has students interested in going to medical school. So, in your first year to begin exploring careers, you need to start your account in Nittany Lion Careers and start to look at the job and internship postings to get a sense for what employers want; do an intake interview at Career Services, and then return for a longer meeting to learn more about the resources they offer; create an initial resume and LinkedIn profile to initiate networking; and begin to establish some out-of-class experiences (engaged learning) through student organizations, research experiences, or volunteering. And, yes, you should go to the Career Fair. It’s a good time to check things out and survey the situation. And, many employers think of recruiting as a 4 year process. They want to identify great talent early and get students involved in internships during their first and second year to develop their abilities. You never know what you might luck into if you are there. As Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Year 2: FOUNDATIONS Your second year may include some continued exploration and discovery, but at some point during the second year, you should be starting to turn that into foundations for future success. You may be exploring other student organizations, but you should have at least 1 where you are an active member, taking a significant role in one or more of the group’s events or activities. Continue to build your experiences in research, global experiences, volunteer activities, entrepreneurship or other areas, trying out new things, but beginning to build a track record in at least 1 type of engaged learning. Visit Career Services 2 or 3 times each semester to do practice interviews, seek out resume tips, and work with a career counselor to continue exploration of the job resources and different career opportunities. Work with them to do some job shadowing and informational interviews to see what a typical day is like in a job and to build initial network connections in different fields.
Your Career Fair visits this time are a great time to practice talking to employers, even if they are not in companies where you think you will work. It’s not about asking for a job or an internship. It’s about learning what all different types of employers are trying to find in new employees, how their businesses are changing, and how that impacts their workforce. Ask them what are the most important student experiences they seek in applicants. Ask them what are the three most important changes that are impacting their company. Build your understanding of all employers, and you’ll be a stronger candidate for the future.
I’ll talk more in a future blog on Years 3 and 4, but that gives you the idea.