Graduate Student Experience - Career Fair

As incoming graduate students, we all come with immense hope to seek growth and opportunities and take our careers to a higher level. Especially being an international student is an overwhelming experience to meet new people, imbibe new culture, and build your career. Our university plays a significant role in providing a healthy and growth-oriented environment. When you come to the university, you have questions like these- whether the place I am investing money would give me the platform to showcase my abilities, will I get exposure to fields that I want to enter into, would the outcome of the process be worth the time, energy and resources that I am investing and many more- lingering in your mind. And honestly, these questions keep your flame alive. These questions help you lookout for opportunities, and when this search is bolstered by the right set of people and environment around you, your experience is fruitful. When I came to RIT, I went with the same hope to explore my abilities or do things I would never have tried before. I started my studies at RIT in Fall '21, and it has been a great experience ever since.

Attending various events on campus has always helped me understand my goals better. Recently, we had the most awaited Spring Semester University-wide Career fair. About 158 companies panning various fields visited the campus. Since the pandemic, this was the most significant career fair, hosting around 3000 students. The campus was gilded with young men and ladies radiating confidence in their best formal attire. The event started at 10 am, and in no time, Gordon Field House was seen filled with Tigers hustling to present themselves before their targeted companies carrying resumes, elevator speeches, company biodata, and statistics. Such career fairs become an integral part of a grad student's life because they can directly delve into the job market. Many students from various majors attended the fair, talked with the recruiters, and applied for internships / Coop / full-time opportunities. We could see long queues in front of companies and students waiting patiently to get their chances. 

People talking to recruiters at the career fair.

Considering safety as a priority, students were supposed to show their spiRIT passes (showing their fully vaccinated status). They could get the list of companies attending and where they were located. Significant companies like Micron, Epic elevated the event with their presence. It helped the students find their desired companies quickly and target more companies in a limited period.

However, retrospecting the event, students' enthusiasm could be easily noticed even before the fair day. Career services provided various on-campus opportunities to help students prepare and make sure they knew what the recruiters expected from the candidates and how they could outperform. The week before the fair, there were resume reviews, both in-person and virtual, where they guided students through 1:1 sessions, preparing impressive elevator speeches, interview preparations, and much more. There were various printout hubs on campus for students to get printed copies of their resumes. The simplicity portal had a list of all the employers that were going to visit the fair. The recruiters' complete profiles and the list of jobs they were offering could be viewed there. Personally, these events made a lot of difference for me. I made the necessary changes in my resume to make it more deliverable. They also suggested I meet my career services coordinator - Angela Pezzimenti, who turned out to be very useful before the fair.

A student speaks to a recruiter

Being a Graduate Ambassador, I interacted with many students and recruiters about their day's experience. The companies were happy to see the overwhelming response of the students they received. A recruiter from Casana, a startup company in the healthcare industry, who was a part of the fair said, "We got a lot of applications. Many students were looking into our software engineering Coops and full-time opportunities. This was a great learning experience for us as well." Manan Gupta, a current Applied and Computational Mathematics graduate student, talked about his experience "It was amazing. I got a lot of leads and hopefully would get an internship ahead. I approached 12 companies as of now. Some of them were cryptocurrency companies, a few were banks, and one was the credit union, so I had the chance to look for many different companies."

If you are someone who would be attending the career fair for the first time, these are some of the tips that would elevate your chances of making it successful. 

  1. Check the Simplicity portal (Careerconnect)
  2. If you are an international student, scan through every company that hires international students
  3. Look at their complete profiles and all the open positions.
  4. Customize your resume specific to that company (do that for every company you plan on talking to) ( For example, "Open to work for XYZ company")
  5. Take separate domain-specific resumes Technical, non-technical, Managerial, etc., whichever suits your criteria.
  6. Read about the company, its background, its leadership. Connect on Linkedin with everyone on the leadership board. Slip into the conversation their names and that you follow the CEO on Linkedin.
  7. Thank them for their time and inquire about the next steps.

Students who did not get any opportunity for the future can always take what they learned from this event and apply them for their search ahead. The fair ended at 4 pm with many happy faces around. I am thankful to the management for organizing this event. RIT is your oyster, and you can make any dream come true!

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