With Cal Poly’s Fall Career Fair soon approaching, students are organizing their resumes and picking out their business-casual attire to seek out job and internship opportunities.
Just how much success have Cal Poly students actually had from attending this event in the past, though? Well, a lot.
Cal Poly mechanical engineering junior Kirby Ransberger attended the career fair last winter with no expectations.
“When I came in, I went to my top 10 companies that I had already researched. I made a resume to hand them and I got a stonewall from everyone because as a second year, I didn’t have enough experience,” Ransberger said.
Little did Ransberger know that he would end up landing a summer internship at a mass production facility called Guardian Industries.
“When I first approached their booth, they asked if I was an electrical engineering student and when I said no, they seemed disappointed. I didn’t let it stop me, though,” Ransberger said. “I asked them how I could help their company as an intern and I told them what I could bring to the table. Eventually, they seemed interested.”
After a few back-and-forth emails with representatives of Guardian Industries, Ransberger visited to receive a tour of the facility.
“It ended up being a flash surprise interview,”Ransberger said. “After a short tour, I got sat down with the head of engineering and was drilled with questions for about 30 minutes. He asked me about my direction as an engineer and if I was willing to get my hands dirty.”
Ransberger has big dreams, and internship opportunities such as these are the first steps needed in achieving them.
“I definitely want to work in a world class manufacturing facility like Tesla or Apple, which are big names and big players,” he said. “This gave me an understanding of what would be out there, how to better communicate, educate myself and bring skills to the table. They say communication is key.”
But Ransberger is not the only student who has landed an internship as a result of attending the career fair.
Cal Poly architecture junior Dayna Lake experienced similar success.
Lake also attended the winter career fair with no expectations. She nervously wandered around the mass of booths, carrying copies of her printed resume.
“RRM Design Group was the last booth that I went to because I thought they were the most intimidating,” Lake said.
RRM Design Group is a global architectural firm.
“I brought my friend along and we started talking and he helped make me look good,” Lake said.
Lake’s nerves soon went to rest when she realized things were not as intimidating as they had initially seemed.
“The representative asked me for a resume and we clicked really well,” Lake said. “We had a lot of the same interests. He also introduced me to the SLO principal architect and it just went really well.”
Things continued going smoothly. Lake received a call about a week later, and the human resources representative told her that they wanted a phone interview. After that, they told Lake that they wished to meet for an in person interview.
“At that point, I remember talking to my dad and telling him that this was a great opportunity, even if I didn’t get it. I went to the interview and it was very natural,” Lake said. “It really helps to have good people skills because that is crucial. It’s important to be easy-going and relaxed. About two weeks later, the HR rep called me and told me they wanted to hire me for the summer.”
Things didn’t end there for Lake, though.
“At the end of summer, I was talking with Michael Scott, my project manager, and he asked about my plans for the school year. He mentioned that I was getting a hang of things and that maybe we could figure something out,” Lake said.
The project managers then had a meeting and agreed that they wanted Lake to continue to work. Lake is now the company’s variable architecture intern for the remainder of the year.
“In the future, there’s a part of me that wants to get into the history and preservation side of architecture. Everyone takes from the past to design today, so we have to keep up with the history of things,” Lake said.
Both Ransberger and Lake serve as examples of students who entered the career fair without a specific goal. Intimidated and unsure of what the outcome would be, they approached booths doubtfully. If they had not taken those risks, they would not be where they are today.
Eastham Engineering Engineering Manager Steve Eastham, who was responsible for hiring Ransberger at Guardian Industries, looks for Cal Poly students who entail the qualities that both Ransberger and Lake do.
“We look for someone who is comfortable in describing who they are, and we like candidates who have a certain level of confidence in where they are at with their abilities,” Eastham said.
Eastham advises that students have an open mind when attending the career fair and try to envision themselves actually living a life in which they are working for the companies that they are looking into.
“That motivation will really show through during the interview process,” Eastham said.
Lake gave similar advice.
“Don’t be scared. You’re going to go into it and nerves will hit you. Just be confident in yourself and they will really respect that,” Lake said. “Be true to yourself too. Be genuine and take risks.”