For some Binghamton University students, the Career Development Center’s upcoming Job and Internship Fair is a final opportunity to connect with potential employers before graduation.
Kathryn Coughenour, a senior double-majoring in linguistics and German, plans to mark this semester with her first venture to the fair, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Events Center.
“I haven’t gone before but I know I really should this time,” Coughenour said.
This spring Coughenour has resolved to use the list of registered employers on the CDC website to plot her course in advance and make the best use of her time at the fair. She plans to take advantage of her experience with CDC workshops to speak with a few recruiters narrowed down from the registered companies attending.
Bill McCarthy, associate director of the CDC, emphasized not only how important it is for students to begin mapping their career paths early on in their time at BU, but also that it is never too late to start.
“All students have to empower themselves and prepare for their career,” he said.
He summarized that those preparations include choosing an enjoyable major and extracurricular activities and, if possible, interning in a job-related field.
“Students should be thinking about a job from day one. If you have those internships or some kind of reference-builders and relationships, you can sometimes plan out a job before graduation,” he said.
Several students said that the CDC offers a good variety of individualized services to prepare for a career.
Jennifer Rosen, a senior double-majoring in history and economics, and Abhishek Sabbarwal, a graduate student studying computer science, have both made use of the CDC’s résumé workshops.
“They’re helpful,” Rosen said. “You tell them what kind of position you’re looking for and they’ll go line-by-line through your résumé with you.”
Sabbarwal described a similar experience. He said that when he came to BU from India, he turned to the CDC to help him reformat his résumé in the American style.
AT THE FAIR
McCarthy stressed how important it is to make a positive first impression at job fairs.
“Wear professional clothes. A suit and tie go a long way. Hang up your jacket and put your backpack off to the side,” he said.
Deanna Victoria, a senior majoring in computer science, said her personal strategy is to present herself in a manner that is professional but unique.
“Every semester, I see this one girl with this bright red shirt,” she said. “I’m sure the companies always remember her because she looks so different from everyone else.”
Victoria says that her personal strategies for standing out include using résumés that are most appropriate for each employer, printing the résumé on high-quality paper and practicing her conversation openers. She was surprised to receive a message last week asking for a phone interview from one of the companies she spoke with at the job fair held by the CDC last fall.
McCarthy was also supportive of Victoria’s idea of an “elevator speech,” or a 30-second introduction that gives recruiters a general idea of one’s personality and goals.
“Don’t try to monopolize the recruiter. They want to talk to as many students as possible,” he said.
Some freshmen or those unsure about their career path see the fair as a great place to form an understanding of what employers are looking for.
Kevin Cardinale, a junior majoring in English, took a casual approach to last fall’s fair.
“I just felt like I should go and survey the landscape,” he said.
Cardinale attended without having an objective of speaking with any particular employer, but said he was glad to have the opportunity to experience a real-world recruitment situation.
BEYOND THE FAIR
Coughenour said she appreciates that the University offers the job fair, but believes that students should take more active roles themselves in their job search.
“The University should encourage responsibility. You can’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to, but students should get used to having responsibility,” she said.
McCarthy said one of the easiest ways to demonstrate responsibility to employers at job fairs is to send a simple “thank you” note to recruiters afterward.
The Spring 2011 Job and Internship Fair will host 54 employers who are recruiting from various majors and disciplines. A complete listing of companies attending the fair and workshops offered by the CDC can be found at cdc.binghamton.edu.