Murshed Chowdhury acts as an advisor to both companies and individuals who are looking for assistance in technology talent acquisition and development. He has served as the CEO & Partner of Infusive Solutions Inc. since its establishment in 2001. Prior to Infusive, he worked at several recruiting agencies where he honed his skills and rose the ranks within the organization before founding his own company.
With over 15 years of technology placement experience, Murshed has helped secure some of the most competitive technical positions for his clients at some of the world’s most prestigious firms. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from Fordham University.
Murshed is passionate about helping technologists develop themselves both professionally and technically.
Here, he shares valuable insight into achieving career fair success. Think about his tips as you prepare for the NYU Career Fair next fall.
Recently, our company had a table at a career fair and I noticed that many of the students had a puzzled look on their face. One student caught my attention in particular. I asked her, “What are you looking to do?” This is typical company talk at a career fair, and she responded, “I have no idea, and I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do here.” We then spent the next few minutes discussing what she majored in, but more importantly, what she liked and what interested her. After that, we came up with a game plan where I told her to visit the various companies that were present to see if they had roles that were closely aligned to what she wanted. I told her to have some real conversations, to get representatives’ business cards and if there was interest, she should follow up. Focus on quality versus quantity, because at the end of the day, you really need one job. You hopefully get many offers, but only need to work at one company. After a few hours, she came back to our booth to tell me that she found some really good prospects, met some really good people and had some genuine conversations. She went on to say that the career fair was not that intimidating after all, and that, actually, it was kind of fun. She said, from now on, she would make the most of her career fairs and try to use it as a vehicle to further her career.
The career fair for many first time or recurring students can be a daunting task. I remember my first one as a senior in college. You’re told to make a great impression; how exactly is unclear. You’re told to make multiple copies of your resume, dress professionally and go. That’s pretty much the advice I was given. When I actually walked into the conference hall, I saw a lot of unfamiliar faces, got nervous and wasn’t sure what do next.
So, how do you make the most of your career fair experience? It really comes down to 3 simple steps in my opinion: have a plan, meet (network) and effectively follow up.
Like any other successful outcomes, it all starts with proper planning. Do some research once the career services center makes available the list of companies that are visiting your institution. Then, put together a list of the companies you want to meet with and find out where they will be. Some career fairs are so large, they can have companies housed in different buildings. Map it out and really have a game plan. If you are going with a friend, ask them to split up and see where the crowds are and then come early or stay late to meet with them. The goal is to have some quality conversations, not just say hello and give them your resume. Part of your planning should include research so you can differentiate yourself from the competition. Knowing about what a company does can go a long way in building rapport. As most people ask the quintessential, “What do you do?” question, you are unique when you can walk up to an employer and tell them you are aware of what their business does because you’ve done your homework. I can tell you for a fact, that students who took the time to research my company and me, in some cases, always got more attention from me. Their resumes went to the top of the pile. I’m sure it is no different for other employers as well. That leads me to my next point, which is, if you have the information on who will be attending from the company, please research them. It shows two things on your part: one, that you’re serious, and two, you are willing to go above and beyond but what most people are willing to do. In today’s digital age of social media and particularly, LinkedIn, that information is readily available.
Next, you should allocate time to meet with as many companies as you can. If you are like most college students, and people for that matter, you’re probably familiar with the big brand companies. But don’t overlook a really great startup or fast growing company that might be perfect for you. There are amazing opportunities at some of these lesser-known brands, as well. Remember, all big brands were small at one point, you never know where this company may go. Also, they wouldn’t be at the career fair if they weren’t growing and looking for great talent like you. Speak to the representatives of these companies and find out what they do. Get their business cards…why, I’ll get to shortly. Be curious and explore, the information you find about these firms, their product and services, can help you narrow down some of your choices, and help you decide what you might be interested in doing once you graduate.
Finally, you need to make sure you effectively follow up. For those companies you’re keen on, send a quick email thanking them for meeting with you and express your interest in the next steps of their process. A week later, follow up with a phone call and reiterate your interest in the firm and/or opportunity. Now, going back to why I asked you to collect those cards, send an email to all the people you met with, even if you’re unsure about the firm or company. Ask them to please forward your information on to anyone they feel may have an interest in your background. Remember, just because that person may not have the ideal role for you at their organization doesn’t mean they don’t have a network of contacts that can be beneficial to you. By making a good impression, and effectively following up, you will already be ahead of your fellow students. Lack of effective follow up is one of the biggest ways to pass on potential opportunities. Most people do a poor job of this. Why? I have no idea, but in any case, this can be an opportunity for you. If you start, you stand to gain. Remember, successful people don’t just focus on doing great things, they make a concentrated effort to do the small things really great, and with consistency. It’s the little things that matter. Keep doing them well and often, and the results will speak for themselves.
Make the career fairs work for you. Remember, they are there to find you, so make the how and why as easy for them as possible.