Students shouldn’t take Career Fair too seriously

Last week, the campus was aflutter with undergraduates running around in black suits and kitten heels. The place: ARC. The occasion: the almighty Business Career Fair. Not only did the career fair foster new relationships between prospective employers and students, but a new record was set for the most sock buns milling around in one location — win.

Over a three-day period, 236 companies graced our campus with their presence, and students had the opportunity to test the waters of the job market by talking to employers about internships and entry-level positions. Big names like Abercrombie & Fitch, Deloitte, Kraft and Macy’s were all present and had lines of students crowded around their tables just to get the chance to hand over their most prized possession, their resume.

I attended the career fair with the hope that there might be something for the lowly English major, but alas most employers were preoccupied with the number-crunching students, and my resume barely got a second look. However, it did provide for some excellent people watching and entertainment as everyone seemed to take it much too seriously.

When I walked into the ARC, the nerves were palpable. I could see the beads of sweat beginning to form around the temples of many students as they stood anxiously in line fidgeting with their resumes and shifting their weight back and forth between feet. Right, switch, left, switch.

Many students paced along the side of the gymnasium reading over the research of their most coveted companies, ensuring that they would say the right thing. And while I too was a part of all of this excitement, I felt somehow removed from it all. Probably because my future was not hanging in the balance among custom labeled golf shirts and free pens.

I stood there as an outsider looking in with my liberal arts education written all over my face. And everyone could tell I had no idea what a “technical research analyst” was, but maybe that’s both a blessing and a curse because no one else seemed to be aware of how laughable the intensity in the room was.

As far as I could tell, no one was able to step back from the commotion and put the career fair into perspective. That’s exactly what we have to do in these types of situations. We must realize that no grade or job will complete our lives and guarantee happiness.

This is not meant to diminish the efforts of those seeking a job in any way because most of us graduating in the spring will be thrust into the job search both willingly and unwillingly. But we must understand that a career fair will not be the culmination of our lives, and if it is, then I’m sorry for you. Though it may be the culmination of three years of hard work, having a near meltdown while standing in line to register for the fair is probably not the best response.

This fear, this overwhelming panic that was so evident at the career fair has to be channeled into confidence. It was clear that so many students were so preoccupied with rattling off the different elements of their resume that they forgot to look up and see that they were talking to a person. Just a regular person who has as much responsibility to impress students as students do to impress them.

Everyone suffers from insecurities and moments of panic, but we have to take those moments in stride and be able to laugh at how ridiculous it all is.

I had my own terrified moment when I was standing in line for a company I did not know, for a position I admit I did not know much about. As I stood there, trying to get a sense of it all, another student came up behind me and asked if I knew what the position was and what my major was. Horrified he would laugh at my liberal arts major at a business career fair, I quickly blurted out “accounting” and left the line immediately.

As I hurriedly walked away, I realized that there was really nothing to be scared of at all and that if I had just embraced that moment of anxiety, maybe I would have learned something.

Though the suits and kitten heels have been carefully laid back in their closets for now, I’m sure they will resurface as rounds of interviews take place over the course of the upcoming months.

Hopefully by then the nerves have subsided and the perspectives are securely in place so that when you walk outside and a frat star yells from a Jeep passing by, “Did you get a job?” You can respond, unequivocally, “Yes!”

Kate is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]