Career fairs are about more than just dressing up

Students+wait+patiently+in+line+to+talk+to+potential+employers+at+the+ACES+Career+Fair+at+the+ARC+on+Thursday%2C+October+6%2C+2016.
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Career fairs are about more than just dressing up

Students wait patiently in line to talk to potential employers at the ACES Career Fair at the ARC on Thursday, October 6, 2016.

Students wait patiently in line to talk to potential employers at the ACES Career Fair at the ARC on Thursday, October 6, 2016.

Evelyn Li

Students wait patiently in line to talk to potential employers at the ACES Career Fair at the ARC on Thursday, October 6, 2016.

Evelyn Li

Evelyn Li

Students wait patiently in line to talk to potential employers at the ACES Career Fair at the ARC on Thursday, October 6, 2016.

By Natasha Mosquera, Contributing Writer

Vincent Yang showed up to the ACES and Sciences Career Fair Thursday with his resumes and research summaries in hand.

Yang graduated with a Masters degree in Chemistry this past May. He said his eventual career goal is to be a research scientist leading or assisting drug discovery in prominent pharmaceutical companies.

Career fairs for individual colleges and the entire University are held every semester to provide students and postgraduates with the opportunity to talk about future job prospects with recruiters from a variety of companies.

Yang said there’s more to a career fair than just dressing up, typing and printing out your resumes.

“It’s not always as simple as that because you have to research into all the companies that you wish to talk to, and quoting one of my friends, ‘looking for a job is just as hard as working for that job itself,’ and it requires a lot of investment in terms of time and effort,” he said.

Yang said that while career fairs may be more geared toward undergraduate students, he doesn’t think he’s disadvantaged significantly.

“I might be more advantaged for experienced positions, but for entry-level positions, they probably might comment on me saying, ‘I think you’re kind of overqualified for this position,’ but I mean, I have to give it all I got because even if it’s like an entry-level position, it’s an option, so I would still apply, because who knows, maybe an experienced position will open up in that company,” he said.

Todd Ashpole is the sales and marketing manager at AgVenture Pinnacle, a seed and chemical crop protection company.

Ashpole said his company has been attending the University’s careers fairs for probably 15 years.

He explained that they keep coming back because of the talented students they find here.

Ashpole said his company looks for students who can wow them.

“It’s their ability to communicate. Show confidence. You know, have good posture and to be able to do that consistently, not just that five-minute conversation I had with them at the booth,” he said. “But if we decide to interview them, that they bring that same type of enthusiasm to the interview process and come prepared to answer questions. I would say that students here at the U of I are some of the most prepared as far as going into the interview process.”

Over time, Ashpole said his company has hired between 25 and 30 University students, both as interns and full-time hires. He also said they are not currently looking for an exact number.

“We’re always looking for good people, and good people can be tough to find, especially in this business. It’s a challenging business, so we’re hoping to find as many of those as we possibly can,” he said. 

Rachel Baits, senior in LAS, said she thought the career fair went really well.

“I really like all the employers that the University brings in. I think there’s a diverse option for every student. Like, I’m a biology major and a lot of people think that you can’t find employment as a biology undergrad, but I talked to a bunch of companies that were really interested in some of my experiences, so I think the University is doing a really good job with these,” Baits said.

She explained how dressing up is a way of impressing employers.

“It kind of makes you feel more confident, more put together, and you know we’re all told to give that elevator pitch and explain why we’re so great, and I just feel a little bit better doing it in a business suit versus, you know, gym clothes, so I think it’s a huge confidence boost for everybody.”

Baits said career fairs are really helpful even if you don’t land a job or an internship.

“You’re getting that interview experience, and you’re getting that time to present yourself as a professional. I’m a lot more comfortable in my skin, and I know how to talk to employers and how to make eye contact so it’s not awkward,” she said. “I think it’s just good practice for professional decorum overall.”

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