Go to Ag Career Day prepared

Leah Gage

Walking into a career fair can be overwhelming, but going in prepared can make the experience much less frightening. Preparation is a simple task that can make a lasting impression on employers and help land that dream job.

Each college’s career services office hosts a career fair to allow students to meet employers and create networks to help guarantee an internship or job for the future.

“We do a lot with resumes, cover letter writing, host interviews for students, as well as mock interviews and interview preparation for students,”  said Mike Gaul, career services director for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Gaul advises everyone to attend the career fair early. This event, that spans over six hours, is the kickoff to the recruitment season.

Numerous companies will spend the next day conducting interviews after filling out their schedules with students they speak with during the event.

Going early can increase your chances of securing an interview.

“Dress up. You only get one chance to make a positive first impression,” added Gaul.

Holly Betten, talent manager and Career Fair representative for Family Farmers Cooperative, agrees that first impressions are very important.

She also added that dressing in formal attire will set you apart from the rest of the students.

The first thing Betten notices when a student approaches the table is how they carry themselves and their level of confidence.

Students are expected to attend the career fair with resumes in hand. Gaul, Betten and Robert Martin, a professor in CALS, all advise students to bring multiple copies. More employers are expecting resumes from students.

Betten advises that students do not add an objective on their resume unless they need one. She added that too many times company representatives receive resumes with an objective that is intended for another company, which could turn away employers.

“Students who come up and say “What does your company do?” or “What opportunities do you have?” are things we [career fair representatives] struggle with,” said Betten.

“Get the list ahead of time and target where you want to go,” said Martin.

Betten points out that if every company has to explain to each student what their company is and the job opportunities, there is not a chance to get to talk to the student about which positions they would be qualified for.

“It all goes back to research,” said Betten who is a 2006 Iowa State graduate with a degree in agriculture business and attended the Ag Career Fair as a student.

As a student, Betten reviewed the companies listed on the website and secured a number of positions through conversations at the fair.

”I researched job opportunities at companies and narrowed down the best fit opportunities for me so that my time at the career fair was spent in the most valuable fashion,” Betten said.

Martin says that on top of research, you need to prepare questions to ask the employers.

“Preparation is critical,” says Martin, “Go with questions in mind and have your 30 second story about yourself ready.”