Tips and strategies for success at the Engineering Career Fair

Joy Wessels

For students in engineering, a lot of emphasis is placed on a single day of the career fairs. However, there are many things that can give fairgoers an advantage.

Doing well in classes to keep a high GPA, getting involved with campus organizations to boost resumes and gaining as much experience as possible in specific areas of interest are all ways to prepare for the fair. But on the day of, there are other tactics that could make you stand out from others.

Though resumes are extremely important, students must also know how to represent themselves in the best way possible. That includes dressing appropriately, saying the right things and having confidence.

Sophomore in mechanical engineering Zach Batteram has experienced firsthand what employers are looking for. After being a career fair ambassador two semesters in a row, Batteram has learned the ins and outs of impressing potential employers.

“Employers consider everything you have to offer,” Batteram said. “They want someone who has relevant experience, decent grades, and they want you to have not only book smarts but common sense as well.”

How you approach employers can say a lot right away. Even a handshake and eye contact can show confidence and get people to notice you. Batteram has found some strategies that can work to your advantage at a career fair.

“Wear a name tag on the right side of your chest,” Batteram said. “When an employer shakes your hand they naturally follow that line up to your name tag.”

Researching companies you’re interested in beforehand is also very important. Marc Benning, sophomore in agricultural engineering, was able to secure an internship with HUSCO International this way.

“I went as a freshman knowing that the company was interested in hiring sophomores for internships if they were willing to take a semester off of school,” Benning said. “Even though I went as a freshman, I was able to make a connection that got me an internship later on.”

It’s not easy for students to approach employers. There is fear of rejection, and it can be uncomfortable if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and take advantage of opportunities that will help you prepare.

Priya Desai, junior in chemical engineering, is a co-chairperson for the career fair this spring. Desai works with career services to provide students with workshops that can help with different aspects of internship and job hunting.

For example, seminars on how to put together resumes and ask questions were offered over the weekend leading up to the career fair, and Engineering Career Services has also started a blog for students’ reference.

Located on the College of Engineering website, the blog covers topics on what companies will be at this semester’s fair, how to get around the day of and explains tactics used by employers like “behavioral-based interviewing.”

Though job hunting at a career fair can be intimidating, preparing ahead of time and learning how to present yourself the day of can make the process go a lot smoother, and might even get you the job you’ve been looking for.