Career Fair Guide – advice from two RPI women on campus: SHPE officer, Tamar Daniels who is a Senior Mechanical Engineering major and one of our mentors in the WMP program, Niyati Desai, a Junior Electrical Engineering major, who is also part of SWE and president of ISA. Tamar got a internship at Boeing and Niyati got an internship at GE. Here’s their take on how to get the most of the career fair!
1. Can you give a brief description of the internship position you got from the career fair?
Niyati: This past summer I interned with GE. I was given a 10 week assignment, in which i had to explore the possibilities of tying in a new technology with the company\’s current projects and show that it is a viable option. At the end of the 10 weeks, I presented to my department about the findings and my learning- both professional and personal- from my internship. I gained experience working in a corporate environment and being part of a team. I also met many other interns and learned about other engineering disciplines.
Tamar: I landed my first internship with Boeing my Sophomore year and it was in Everett, Washington working with a group called Customer engineering. It was an internship experience geared towards underclassmen to expose them to the Boeing company. It was amazing.
2. How do you sign up for the career fair?
The sign up procedure for the career fair has been done online. For my freshman and sophomore year, I signed up through RPI’s JobLink (the online system for applying to jobs and interviews). Visit careerfair.rpi.edu. This year there is a new and improved website just for the career fair, through which students can make an account and register, and make a personalized list of companies that they are interested in talking to.
3. What was your goal when you signed up for the career fair?
When I signed up for the career fair in my freshmen year, my goal was to gain experience on how to navigate a career fair and practice talking to recruiters. When I signed up my sophomore and now junior years, my primary goal is to reach out to recruiters from different companies and eventually apply for summer internships.
4. When/how did you start preparing for the career fair?
Niyati: I first begin preparing for the career fair a month before the actual date. I update my resume and utilize RPI\’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) walk-in hours and work-shops on how to dress for career fairs, proper etiquette, how to have a good resume and cover letter, etc. I also researched the companies that will be at the career fair and try to find out a little bit about them so I can carry on a conversation with the recruiters at the fair.
Tamar: I started prepping over the summer when I started updating my Resume. I am in the process of printing it on resume paper right now. I also am getting my professinal suits and dresses ready so that I am looking professional at the career fair.
5. How many resumes did you bring/ did you get it critiqued beforehand?
Niyati: I always get my resumes critiqued beforehand, by the CCPD and occasionally my peers. I usually bring about 20 resumes with me to the fair. This number is based upon how many companies I have on my \”must talk to\” list and a couple extra for my \”approach if there is time\” list. I have found that it is always to have more resumes than companies I want to approach, in case I happen upon an unsuspected booth or a representative asks for an extra. Lately, many companies have been accepting digital resumes, so it is always good to have a digital copy, either via email or USB.
Tamar: I got my resume critiqued by a few people before I finalized it. I print out around 20 copies of my resume to hand out to the various companies I met with during the career fair. I felt that this was sufficient preparation for the different times I went to the career fair.
6. Any advice for editing/perfecting that resume?
Niyati: I would suggest starting early on your resume. This gives you time to take a break for a couple days and go back to it, to get a refreshed perspective. Also, try to get as many different pairs of eyes on it as possible- including technical perspectives as well as more HR side of things. It is always to include your GPA on your resume, as many companies use that as a prerequisite for many positions. Along with relevant skills, I have found that it is helpful to include a few core classes on your resume, with bullet points outlining some projects you worked on or skills you utilized in the class that may apply to industry.
Tamar: Make sure you spell check everything!! Also, highlight your strenghts. Your resume is all about selling yourself in the best possible light so that the recruiter wants to get to know you better at a possible future interview
7. What did you wear to the career fair?
Niyati: In the past, I have worn slacks and a blouse, and also dress pants, a dress shirt, and a jacket.
Tamar: I usually wear a nice business dress.
8. Advice for freshmen at their first career fair?
Niyati: Keep your eyes open and observe everybody around you. Also, don\’t be afraid to approach recruiters and talk to them, handing them your resume! It shows initiative, and that you take your career seriously and want to start early. Even if you don\’t get a job or internship offer, you will gain valuable experience and confidence.
Tamar: Don’t be afraid to talk to companies. Even if they say they are not looking for freshman dont let that deter you from continuing your journey at the fair. It is valuable experience to learn how to interact with recruiter take the opportunity given to you.
Advice for sophomores at their second career fair?
Niyati: Be confident when approaching recruiters, even if everybody else in the line are upperclassmen. Don\’t be afraid to admit that your technical experience is limited since you are only a sophomore, but emphasize that you are always ready and willing to learn. Try to talk about the work and projects you have done so far.
Tamar: Actively look for internships now. There are companies giving those out to sophomores and it is the perfect time to start.
Advice for upperclassmen at the career fair?
Niyati: Try not to talk too much about all of the work you have done- just know a few key important things and build upon that. It is, however, good to know the other things in case you are asked follow-up questions.
Tamar: Don’t let your nerves get to you. The recruiters are just people just like me and you. Just be yourself and they will see the genuiness of you. Thats what they really appreciate. Don’t lie about your experiences either because they will know.
9. How did you prepare to talk to you list of companies?
I usually make a list of the top companies that I want to talk to. For each company, I try to know a little bit about them and the position that they are offering. I also think it is important to know how to present myself and show that my work ethic and skills align with the company culture.
10. Any common questions the representatives asked you?
Common questions: What classes are you taking, what projects have you done, what coding languages do you know, what is your geographical preference for an internship, have you had an internship before…
11. What are the most important things you learned and achieved for attending the career fair?
Niyati: I learned how to interact with people from industry and how to present myself in a professional manner. I also gained confidence in myself and my experiences and capabilities, and how to present my strengths to a potential employer.
Tamar: Getting the intern position at the career fair was the best achievement I got out of the experience. The most important thing I learned is that the recruiters are just people, no better than anyone else. Seeing them as people just like that makes it so much easier to talk with them and create a good rapport.
12. What were the follow-ups from the career fair in terms of actually getting the job? (phone interviews, submitting a full application online…)
Niyati: Many recruiters at the career fair gave me instructions on how to actually apply for the position, and many of these were online applications. After submitting the full application online, it was followed up with a phone interview, and sometimes an on-campus interview as well.
Tamar: Make sure you get the recuriters business card and follow up with them. Make sure you apply online before the career fair or very soon after talking with the recruiter. Most companies are not allowed to interview with people who have not applied through their online system.
Hopefully the insight that Niyati and Tamar have given about the career fair help you get prepared for the Career Fair at RPI.