Editorial | Don’t get discouraged by career fair hysteria

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

The buzz of the madding crowd of people heading to career fairs is already permeating campus. LinkedIn profiles are being updated feverishly. Handshake accounts are being frantically set up. The frightened but determined look of the job seeker is all too familiar. 

Why is it, though, that the attendants of the fairs feel such severe anxiety while still weeks away? Despite the prophecies of our career counselors, career fairs are not the final word on your career. While they are, of course, useful for making in-person connections, their importance is often over-inflated. 

If you’re caught up in the hysteria right now, take a step back and breathe. You’re OK. Let’s remember a few things. 

Firstly, career fairs were designed for students. The University puts on the whole shebang for you. It’s not for the mobs of employers, nor the underpaid faculty; it’s for you so that come time for you to don a cap and gown, you have somewhere to go and something to do. It’s almost like a party in your honor.

With this in mind, the fairs lose some of their sharp edge. After all, who would be stressed about their own party? So, relax; you own the room. 

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Secondly, we should remember that while these fairs can be one path to a job, they are far from the only. Online applications are widely popular, and interviews over the phone or video chat are also options. So if you really feel like you didn’t sell yourself well enough, or you didn’t get the chance to talk to one of the companies you wanted to, don’t feel discouraged. Use the available technology to your benefit.

Don’t forget: Career fairs also aren’t the only way to network. Are they good practice and maybe even a good place to start? Sure. But they are not the be-all-end-all. You can network in many professional settings including social events hosted by your college, lunches with mentors and professors and during those summer internships. 

So, relax; you have options.   

Thirdly, we need to remember things have a way of working themselves out. How often do we stress endlessly about things that turn out to be not as bad as predicted? What’s meant to be will be, and you will land on your feet. We’re growing up in a Trump-run America; we can handle anything. 

So, relax; everything is going to be alright.

If you’ve reached this point and you’re thinking, “Well, I still want the career fair to be my path,” that’s OK. For some people, that is the path, and there is a multitude of on-campus resources available to help you walk it. The Career Center on Wright Street and the Humanities Professional Resource Center in 105 Gregory Hall, to name a few, are great places to go to have your resumes polished and elevator pitches perfected. 

So, get out there, and get those jobs, Illini! Whether it be through the career fair or not, know that Alma is proud of you.