Tag Archives: career fair

Three Ways To Make The Most Of Your Career Fair

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 next NYU Career Fair.

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.

PLAN

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.

NETWORK

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.

FOLLOW UP

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.

Put these newly learned skills to good use! Attend the 2014 Fall Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management Career Fair! RSVP HERE!

Employer Insights: How the Engineering & Technology Fair Worked For Me

by Anthony Giorgio

Way back at the turn of the millennium, I was studying Computer Science at Polytechnic University, on the former Long Island campus.  During my freshman year, I learned about the annual on-campus career fair that was held in the spring.  I had visited the career services office, and they were offering students the chance to volunteer at the fair to help setup the various tables and booths.  I decided to take them up on their offer, and arrived at the fair early in the morning.  I carried boxes of tchotchkes and  marketing materials from the recruiters’ cars into the gym, and struck up a few conversations.  Eventually the fair started, and the horde of students arrived.  Being a lowly freshman, I didn’t have much to offer, and was politely rejected from every table.  I didn’t expect anything different, and resigned myself to a fate of again spending summer break working for McDonald’s.  

As the fair wound down, I helped the various recruiters pack up their booths, and they gladly rewarded me with a plentiful supply of keychains, pens, stress balls, and other items emblazoned with corporate logos.  There was one company, however, that I spent more than a few minutes chatting with.  They were a local Hewlett-Packard reseller, who also employed software engineers for consulting work.  The recruiter seemed to like me, and said they would be in touch.

A week or so later, they called me up and offered me a summer internship.  I was elated, since I didn’t expect to be doing technical work as a freshman.  I ended up working there for the entire summer, performing a variety of intern-related IT roles.  As my role was winding down, and I was preparing to return to school, the company hired another intern to replace me.  He was another student at Poly, but he was a senior and preparing to graduate.  In the few weeks we worked together, we became acquaintances, and learned to respect each other’s abilities.  I sometimes spoke to him during the school year, but since he was older than I, our social circles didn’t cross very much.

The next summer I again attended the career fair, and this time I managed to land an internship at Symbol Technologies (now part of Motorola).  I was fortunate enough that my resume had the right key technical terms, and the recruiter gave me a callback.  I spent the next two years working there, as my class schedule permitted.  It gave me excellent insights into how the corporate world worked, and invaluable experience in software development.

As I entered my senior year, I began to look for full-time employment, since I needed a “real” job.  I decided to attend the fall career fair at the Brooklyn campus, since I felt that waiting for the spring one on Long Island might be too late.  I put on my interview suit, printed out a stack of resumes, and climbed on the coach bus the school chartered for the occasion.  I felt confident, since I had three years of work experience, and I was about to complete a combination BS-MS program in Computer Science.   Still, I was nervous – what if nobody hires me?  What if I can’t get an offer?  I put those thoughts to rest as the bus parked in downtown Brooklyn.  

When I entered the career fair, I was surprised at how crowded it was.  The Long Island fairs usually had a decent turnout, but the Brooklyn one was on an entirely different level.  The popular companies had lines 20 students     deep, and there were so many tables they spilled over into the lobby of the library.  As I made my way around the fair, I met with the recruiters, shook their hands, passed out resumes, and recited my spiel innumerable times.  Eventually I made my way to the IBM table.  As luck would have it, my former classmate and colleague from my first internship had returned to recruit!  After the perfunctory greeting, he introduced me to the hiring manager, and we chatted briefly.  He seemed to like me, and told me to head to the career services office after the fair.  I wasn’t quite sure what would happen next, but I eagerly agreed.

After a nervous lunch, I headed over to the career services office, where I saw a number of other students.  Some I recognized from my campus, while others I had never seen before.  The woman in charge of the office said that the representatives from IBM would be individually interviewing us, since we had passed their pre-screening.  When it was my turn, I met with the recruiter once more, and talked for about a half-hour in a private office.  He asked me about my academic career, my work experience, and a number of other things to feel me out as a candidate.  The interview drew to a close, and he congratulated me, shaking my hand.  He promised that the hiring manager would be in touch, and to prepare for a phone interview.  I was pleased, but somewhat unsure.  I had never interviewed on a phone before, and didn’t really know what to expect.  

A few weeks later, I received an email from the hiring manager, asking when it would be convenient for me to talk.  We set up a date and time, and proceeded to have a pleasant conversation with each other.  This interview was rather similar to my previous one with IBM, where the interviewer seemed more interested about my personality and how I would fit in, rather than my technical skills.  At the end of the call, the manager said that he was going to recommend I come up for an in-person interview, and that someone from Human Resources would be in touch.  Within a few days, I received another email, this time inviting me to the IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The HR representative gave me all the details, including directions to the site, what hotel I would be staying at, how to be reimbursed for my travel expenses, and what restaurants I should eat at.

As my in-person interview date approached, I realized that this would be the longest drive I have ever taken, and I would be doing it solo.  It was also before GPS or smartphones were common, so I made sure to print the route out using Mapquest directions, and brought along a paper map backup.  I packed an overnight bag, climbed into my old Honda, and headed north.  After two hours, I arrived in Poughkeepsie, and managed to find my hotel.  I checked in, grabbed a bite to eat, and prepared my suit for the interview tomorrow.  

The next morning, I headed over to the IBM facility on Route 9.  Once inside, I joined a large number of other candidates preparing to take the IPAT exam (a standardized test given to job applicants).  I spent about 90 minutes taking the test, and then we were all instructed to wait for our hiring managers to pick us up from the lobby.  A short while later, my manager came by, and I recognized him as being the same one from the career fair.  He explained that his job was to take me around the site and bring me to various groups that had job openings.  We drove around to a number of different offices, and I met a few different hiring managers.  Each one had a specific opening, for either software development or test.  The management team also took me out to lunch, which I later found out was so they could see how I handled social situations.  At the end of the day, the recruiting manager asked which of the positions I’d like to work in.  I ended up picking the sole development one, since it seemed the most interesting.  

I drove home the next day, retracing the hundred-mile journey downstate.  I thought I did well, but I wasn’t sure if I would get a written job offer.  After the weekend, I returned to school, and resumed my classes.  As the weeks went by, I became more nervous about my chances.  I had another written job offer, but it had an expiration date attached.  I was hoping that I would simultaneously have two job offers in hand so I could pick the more appealing one.  Finally, in mid-February, a letter arrived from IBM with my official offer.  I decided to accept, and began communicating with a Human Resources representative on all the things required to start my employment.

In conclusion, pursuing a job opportunity with a large corporation can be a long journey.  Decisions take time, and multiple people are involved in many steps.  From the candidate’s perspective, the interminable wait can be nerve-wracking, but it’s all part of the process.  It’s also important to differentiate yourself from the rest of the candidates.  If you tell the recruiter what makes you a good hire, it will help them to recall you later on.  Remember, having the smarts to do the job only gets you so far, but effective communication, teamwork, and a positive attitude will get you to the prize!

If you’d like to work for IBM, we’re hiring!  We have a number of openings available in the Systems & Technology Group.  These are for both co-ops and entry-level positions.  If you’re interested, check out the following links:

System z Software Developer – Intern (Poughkeepsie, NY or Tuscon, AZ)

System z Software Developer – Entry Level (Poughkeepsie, NY; Tuscon, AZ; or San Jose, CA)

IBM Wave Software Developer – Entry Level (Poughkeepsie, NY)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET WITH IBM, STOP BY THEIR BOOTH AT THE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY CAREER FAIR. RSVP THROUGH NYU CAREERNET BY CLICKING HERE!