Zach Donnenfield
Zach Donnenfield | Mustang News

With Cal Poly’s Winter Career Fair just around the corner, it is important to approach a job search or interview with professionalism and preparedness. However, rejection is inevitable when starting off. Often times, students looking to get their feet wet in the job market come with less experience. Employers receive many applications and requests for interviews, so facing rejection is part of the process. With some tips from fellow students on dealing with rejection, you can be prepared to improve your job search as you embark on the path to employment.

Take it slow

When preparing for the career fair, it is important to keep in mind that hundreds of other students are in the same position as you, looking to speak with employers, land an interview or fill out a job application. With such a competitive environment, it is important to realize that the experience is more important than finding immediate success.

Software engineering senior Louise Ibuna reflected on her first experience attending the Career Fair at Cal Poly:

“I came to Cal Poly in Fall 2016 as a transfer student and made my first career fairs a trial run because I wanted to get a feel of what the environment was like. I had set my eyes on specific employers because I wanted to get feedback from them. Students definitely have dream companies, so don’t hesitate getting feedback from them.”

Assess and learn about your strengths and weaknesses

At the career fair, having a perfect resume is less important than learning your strengths and weaknesses. Ibuna said she understands improvement is a process when it comes to the career fair and speaking with employers.

“If you didn’t feel great after the career fair, step back and evaluate what you did that was good and what to improve. Talking to recruiters is hard, but remember that they’re normal people like you. Practice with friends and get feedback on how to improve,” Ibuna said.

Presentation skills and interactions with employers are imperative to marketing yourself to employers. Even if you are not looking for a serious job, speaking to employers will give you experience with professional interaction. Materials engineering senior Timothy Tan feels that speaking to employers at the career fair will help even if you do not get an interview.

“You can always work on improving your speaking skills. In the end, even if you don’t get what you want, at least you gained experience speaking to employers, which will be beneficial when you actually have an interview,” Tan said.

Facing rejection

Almost inevitably, everyone attending career fair will eventually face rejection.

“Rejection at the career fair teaches students that job searching is a numbers game. There are hundreds of recruiters looking at thousands of students and the chances of getting the one or two jobs you really want are not favorable,” Tan said.

Keeping your options open is a smart way to approach your job search instead of limiting your success or failure to your dream companies. In fact, many companies have online applications, so sending out a copy of a resume is an efficient way to increase your chance of success if you are unhappy with how the career fair went. Tan said his experience has taught him not to get discouraged after rejection.

“My advice to students who face rejection is to move on and keep applying to jobs/internships online. For the most part, you will be rejected and there is nothing wrong with that,” Tan said. “One thing I wish I had known earlier is that, even if you have what you think is a great conversation with an employer, if they don’t schedule an interview by the end of the conversation that means you were rejected.”

Build your resume

Additionally, improving your resume can boost your marketability if you are unsuccessful at the career fair. To receive assistance with a resume, seek advice from a teacher or trusted mentor. Additionally, Cal Poly’s Career Services serves as a resource for guidance on resume building.

Ultimately, the Career Fairs are learning experience that can prove beneficial, even in the face of rejection.

“You want to use that rejection to improve for future careers and that’s why Cal Poly has so much for you. Make sure to go as many times while you’re here. Go in with an objective, whether it’s getting an interview or at least talking to a company you’re interested in. You’ll see a lot of improvement in yourself which can lead you to your dream career,” Ibuna said.

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