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Career fair prep guide: Show up with more confidence

A+job+candidate+talks+with+a+employer+on+the+concourse+of+Hilton+Coliseum+during+the+Engineering+Career+Fair+on+Feb.+6%2C+2024.+
Sophia Wyckoff
A job candidate talks with a employer on the concourse of Hilton Coliseum during the Engineering Career Fair on Feb. 6, 2024.

The Engineering Career Fair Tuesday featured more than 380 companies, each looking for candidates to fill roles. 

Students prepared for the career fair by viewing all the companies attending on Cyhire, creating resumes and researching companies they were interested in. 

“I researched all the companies I was interested in, wrote down the projects I liked and applied to those companies that were also going to be here,” said Cloie Carmosino, a junior in aerospace engineering. “I was then able to talk to them in person, mostly about the projects I have been working on.” 

Providing a resume to employers can be important to show what a student has accomplished and demonstrate previous experiences they have in specific career fields and environments. 

“[The companies] really enjoy hearing that you are actually learning things from your class,” Carmosino said. “Not just doing the homework and being like ‘I am efficient in this, but I have nothing to prove that.’” 

According to a career services page from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, an effective resume reflects uniqueness as an individual and should be composed of several relevant “chapters of your life.” This includes a student’s education, relevant coursework, international experience, work experience, activities and honors. 

“A green flag in a student could be someone who has previous internship or co-op experience,” said Ryne Dunphy, a process engineer from CF Industries. “But can put to memory why they did things rather than just filling up a resume.” 

According to Iowa State Engineering Career Services, the number one piece of feedback from employers attending the career fair is that they wish students were more prepared and confident. 

“The best advice I can give students is to be confident with what you’re saying,” said Claire McCaskey, an engineer with Roquette. “Some students came up to me today and said, ‘I am just a freshman,’ and I said, rephrase that to ‘I am a freshman here to talk about opportunities.’”

Attendees gather on the main floor of Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 6, 2024 for the Engineering Career Fair. (Sophia Wyckoff)

Iowa State offers multiple workshops and career fair prep days before career fairs. Those events include rapid resume reviews, career development seminars, a one-stop career fair prep event and a pop-up professional shop for business casual attire.

“I look for students who clearly come prepared and are able to show they are hardworking, creative, willing to take initiative, but willing to ask questions,” Dunphy said. “I like to see them deviate from their college textbooks and really learn a thing for themselves.” 

No matter a student’s age, school level, experiences or major, the career fair is open to every Iowa State student to explore careers and opportunities. 

“Just because you might not be a certain level in school or you might not have certain experiences doesn’t mean you can’t sell yourself short just being a freshman or a sophomore,” McCaskey said.

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