Dear student, noble member of the storied class of overworked and underpaid apprentice scholars, here’s why you should attend the Graduate Career Fair at Purdue:
(1) Location, location, location. It’s not very often in life that recruiters will travel to your town, wanting to talk to you about employment. Seriously. Attend the career fair in October 2016, but also make full use of the 30 other career fairs at Purdue!
(2) Face time with a recruiter. Recruiters are not vacationing in West Lafayette. They are here to screen potential candidates and tell you about their organization. Remember, a conversation with a person is more memorable than sending a resume electronically. Make a good impression, collect business cards [or at least names so you can look them up on LinkedIn], and you will have made an important professional contact.
(3) You could make the shortlist. They could have you sign up for an interview or they could direct you to the company website and ask you to apply online [and in that case, it won’t hurt to ask them for a few details about the application procedure and timeline]. Now, yes, you could have simply applied to this online job without spending time at the career fair. BUT having met the recruiter, you have hopefully learned a little more about the company that will strengthen your application and you can positively reference your conversation with the recruiter in your application materials.
(4) Explore different careers and industries. You don’t know all the career possibilities out there. Attending a job fair will introduce you to different organizations and industries, and you may discover something worth looking into! Even if you learn of avenues you are definitely not interested in, it’s still useful information. In fact, knowing what you dislike is as important as knowing what you want. This holds true for all academic-track applicants, too. There’s no harm in looking at non-academic career options.
(5) Make yourself a stronger candidate. Spending time at a career fair will give you a sense of skills in demand, as well as growing industries and careers. You can also ask recruiters for advice on how to make yourself a competitive candidate, and consider developing the required skills. This may mean that you are not currently eligible but that, in time, you may become a qualified candidate.
(6) Develop a network of contacts. Over 70% of jobs are filled by networking, so the sooner you start, the more time you have to develop your professional relationship! At a career fair, you will be able to network with the recruiters as well as other fair attendees. They can be very good sources of information and referrals as you navigate the job market.
So, I hope you are seriously considering attending the next graduate career fair on October 4, 2016! Check out our website and blog posts, as well as the CCO calendar for upcoming workshops on how to prepare for one. And, good luck!
Graduate students & postdocs: Follow @GradProfCareers for career exploration & professional development resources.