Students will have the opportunity to network with — and impress — more than 200 employers at the Fall Career Fair.
If there’s anything that makes a college student want to stay in school as long as possible, it’s the fear that comes with searching for a job in the real world.
However, thanks to the Fall Career Fair, students can network, apply for positions and even interview with employers right on campus. On Oct. 9 and 10 in the Recreation Center, more than 200 companies will have recruiters looking for students to fill various co-op, internship and career positions, Soukita Thipsouvanh, a Career Services events coordinator, said.
Regardless of their age or major, students who attend the fair will benefit from exploring job opportunities and seeing what fields they may be interested in pursuing, Thipsouvanh said.
“I would really encourage everyone just to go, just to have that experience of networking with employers,” she said.
The open-forum networking session will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. both days with 136 tables each day, Martin Shibata, director of Career Services, said. Students can register on the events tab of Mustang Jobs beforehand, but it is not required.
The tables will be arranged alphabetically in the main gym, with ‘A’s starting on the left, he said. Some bigger companies, such as Apple Inc. and Cisco Systems, Inc., will be located upstairs in the north and south gyms where there is more space, Shibata said.
Because so many companies will attend, it’s crucial students do their “homework” by researching companies and applying for positions ahead of time, Shibata said. Employers are required to post all available positions on Mustang Jobs beforehand, which students can access by logging into their portals.
“Students, if they do their homework and they’re prepared, can strategize on how they want to approach it,” he said.
Because tables can be crowded, students should also make a plan to ensure they have enough time to meet with desired employers, Shibata said. Many companies will not be at the fair both days, so students should plan their time accordingly, he said.
“Even though you may target 20 employers, you may only have enough time to see 10,” Shibata said.
Brandon Holle, a business administration junior and president of Cal Poly’s American Marketing Association, has been to five career fairs since coming to Cal Poly. According to Holle, it’s important to tailor your résumé to each position, and bring multiple copies of it to hand out to employers.
For Holle, the scariest thing about going to his first career fair was not knowing what to say to employers. By researching positions ahead of time, he now knows to prepare questions to ask each company.
“Always ask questions to them, that’s probably one big thing, because they like that,” Holle said. “Have questions prepared to ask them about the position or the company.”
After the networking session at 1:30 p.m., companies will hold interviews until 4:30 p.m., Shibata said. Students can sign up for interviews with employers at their tables during the networking session, but Shibata estimates only half the employers will hold same-day interviews.
“The ones that are not going to interview on campus, they may elect to have the student go directly to the worksite to interview,” Shibata said. “Then some of the companies will say go online and apply there, because that’s the first step.”
Interviews vary among different companies, but they normally last around 30 minutes, Shibata said. In cases where a company has lots of applicants, not every student who wants an interview will get one, he said.
“They have a schedule, and so they’re going to take the ones that they’re most interested in,” Shibata said. “They may not necessarily sign up everybody.”
Because not everyone is guaranteed an interview, students need to impress employers during the few minutes they may have with them at the networking session, Shibata said. Students must be able to “sell themselves” by explaining their major, what experience they have and how the work they have done is applicable to the company they’re interested in, he said.
“It’s a skill, just like interviewing,” Shibata said. “The more you do it, the more comfortable you feel, and the better you’ll do at it.”
For many students, the job fair could be the only chance they have to build relationships with a potential employer. Though it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the chaos, students should be “focused and aggressive” when talking to employers in order to make the best impression possible, Shibata said.
“Just make sure to have a good, firm handshake, good eye contact, nice smile,” Shibata said. “First impressions do really carry a lot of weight.”