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With hundreds of employers and even more students buzzing around the Field House, the Career Fair can be overwhelming without preparation. Make sure you take the steps to being Career Fair ready before setting out and searching for co-op opportunities. Here are a few things that I did to prepare for the Spring Career Fair:
- Attended Career Fairs in the past
Okay, I know you can’t possibly do this for your first Career Fair, but it’s helpful to stop by before you’re actively searching for a co-op. Even as a freshman, the Career Fair is an opportunity for you to network and to learn about the possible paths you can take with your major. I’ve attended Career Fairs in the past, as a student browsing through the booths and as a volunteer. Even volunteering at a Career Fair can help. A recruiter gave me her business card and told me to visit her booth when I was helping out in the lunchroom. It’s a great confidence booster if you’re already familiar with the Career Fair and with speaking to company representatives.
- Set up an appointment with my program coordinator
Every coordinator is in charge of advising a specific set of majors. This is helpful because your advisor will be familiar with the types and locations of co-ops that other students in your program have taken. During my appointment, I had my resume and portfolio critiqued, received tips about writing a cover letter, and learned about resources available to students through RIT’s Job Zone.
- Checked out Job Zone
Students can use Job Zone to get career advice, learn about the average co-op pay for students in their major, and search for available co-op positions. Many companies will post their positions on Job Zone, and students can apply directly through the Job Zone site. My program coordinator also helped me to set up a search agent, which automatically finds relevant job posting and sends them to your inbox.
- Attended info sessions
As much as you may want a co-op, companies want talented students to become part of their team. Many recruiters will hold info sessions prior to the Career Fair to inform students of the opportunities within their companies and even provide students with advice for the job search. Right before the Career Fair, I attended sessions for Amazon and Fidelity. Throughout the year, I’ve also attended sessions for Microsoft, Google, and a number of other companies.
- Researched companies and positions
Information about the companies attending the Career Fair and their locations in the Field House is available prior to the event. You can filter through the companies on Job Zone to generate a list of those recruiting for your major. It’s helpful to know something about the companies that you are interested in. I used the company information to set my priority list for the Career Fair and even decided on the order that I would visit each.
All in all, I felt comfortable and prepared for this past Career Fair. Now all I have to do is wait to hear back from recruiters and hopefully set up a few phone interviews!