The Career Fair Cattle Call

I’m not sure what most people think of when they think of career fairs. Crowds? Desperation? Opportunity? For me, it was all of those things rolled into one, but I decided to give the Fisher Invitational Career Fair a chance this week. Although I was unable to make it to any of the pre-event preparation workshops, I thought it was a nice touch to help students navigate their way through.

So, resumes in hand and smart business attire ready, I headed for the Blackwell. I went early thinking maybe other students would still be in class. Wrong! The ballroom, lobbies and hallways were a sea of suited up students nervously scanning job fair maps. I had done my homework before the show, so I already knew which companies were looking for HR interns. Unfortunately for me and my classmates, few were there for HR graduate students, and even fewer (about two) were local companies in need of our skills.

Undeterred, I sought these few companies out of the crowd. At one booth the recruiter lined us up two or three at a time, told us exactly what he was looking for, and then scooted along to the next anxiously awaiting set. Some limply dropped a resume onto the stack, others just gave their polite thanks and wandered off to the next booth. Where was the face time? Where was his sense of interest in any of us, really? On I went, though, to one of the local companies listed in the brochure under MLHR. Here they did take the time to talk to students one on one. Things were looking better! It was nearly my turn! Finally, I approached, made my introductions and asked about their MLHR opportunities. “Mmm, yeah, I can give you a brochure about our MBA program.” OK, I said, but I’m interested in HR. “We might have filled those already; you can check the website.”

After a few more stops, a migraine was stirring in my frontal lobe. The crowd, shoved together like cattle in an auction ring, the seemingly disinterested recruiters (at least for MLHR), and the stress of it all were starting to take their toll. I checked another local company–nothing for graduate HR–and then another one specifically listed on our sheets with MLHR checked. Surely this one could offer something positive, right! So, I waited in line, approached the recruiter, gave my introductory short speech, and….”Yeah, you’re like the third person who has asked about HR. We are only looking at sales. We haven’t recruited for HR in three years. I don’t know why it says that.”

The recruiter apologized. Clearly it was just a mix-up with the brochure. I thanked her politely, wished her luck in the search, and decided to call it a day at the career fair. I’m sure some students walked away with hopes of interviews and offers. There certainly seemed to be no lack of talented students eager to express their employment qualifications. Likewise, the volume of recruiters shows that Fisher can draw in some of the leading companies locally and nationwide. I guess it just wasn’t my day. Maybe next year …


1 Response to “The Career Fair Cattle Call”


  1. 1 Kathleen Newell February 3, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I’m sorry to hear that the experience wasn’t as positive as it could have/should have been! The strategy that helped me during the Fall 2009 internship fair was 1)arrive 10 minutes before the career fair starts in order to be the first one to talk to recruiters at your top-choice booth, 2)totally disregard the brochure that specifies which companies are recruiting for MLHR.
    I found a company that I was very interested in that would be there (but wasn’t recruiting for MLHR students), did all my research online about the company and why I wanted them to hire me, chatted up a recruiter before anyone else got to the booth, and then gave them my resume. They called me 2 weeks later for a phone interview, they offered me an internship a month later, and they offered me a full-time job after that.
    Don’t get discouraged! Keep knocking on doors- even doors that someone else told you were “closed”- and something might happen!

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