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Thoughts from the career fair

| Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It’s only 7:30 p.m., but I’m exhausted. I’m sitting on the floor in my room, my aching feet propped up on a pillow. My throats hurts. My armpits smell sweaty. Brochures lie scattered around me, and I have no clue how to organize them. Yup, I just got back from the Career Expo.

The weeks before the fair felt crazy — my friends and I never stopped discussing the fair. What are you wearing, what companies are you talking to, are you prepared, what’s your resume look like? Everyone, including me, was unbelievably nervous, and understandably so.

Companies with incredible opportunities gather in one place, and the competition is on. Thousands of students turn up. Everyone there flaunts resumes full of valuable experiences. The thought of needing to stand out is intimidating, and it’s nerve-wracking to make an amazing impression all with a 30-second speech about yourself.

Now that I’ve gotten through my first career fair, my head is spinning. My experience left me with a lot of thoughts (and a headache).

First of all, I don’t envy the recruiters. Their job sounds exhausting. Travelling from college to college keeps them away from their loved ones. They have to shake hands with hundreds of college students — ew. And I can only imagine they lose their voice daily and have sore facial muscles from constantly introducing themselves with fake enthusiasm.

I definitely put too much pressure on my elevator pitch than I should. Recruiters hear thousands of introductions each week. Unless you’ve cured cancer or published a novel, there’s nothing to say to stand out in their memory without erring on the side of unprofessional.

And all those hours I spent perfecting my resume? Employers receive thousands of resumes. They all probably end up filed in a corporate dungeon.

Honestly, I think the follow-up and the experience of marketing yourself is what makes career fairs worth it. A career fair also gives you the chance to practice eloquently, succinctly and confidently speaking about yourself.  If you stumble on your words at a career fair, fine, no big deal. They’re on to the next student, and you’re on to the next employer. But what about when it’s a personal interview, and it’s just you? After practicing in a stressful yet professional environment, the real interview feels much less nerve-wracking.

I’m glad I went to the career expo. Did I get a job offer or my dream internship? Heck no. But I’ve practiced talking about myself, perfected my handshake, and learned how to carry myself in a hectic environment. Now that I’ve got this experience under my belt, I’m ready to take on the corporate world — after I’ve iced my blistered feet for a few hours, that is.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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