I attended my “first” career fair last Wednesday and to say I was nervous is an understatement. I was scared out my mind.
Now, I attended a career fair as a freshman, but it was so overwhelming that I had to leave. But now, as a junior at UGA, I found out I was just underprepared. Here’s why.
- I did not use the resources that UGA had to offer me.
- I had a resume. I had professional clothing. I could talk about my goals and aspirations. But how did I put that all together? How do I seem like I am the best candidate when I have little work experience in the field(s) I am interested in? I didn’t use UGA’s Career Services. I pay $26,000 a year for an education at the flagship institution and did not use one service that this department had to offer. Why? I was lazy. I didn’t want to be great. I was setting myself up to be mediocre. It took a relationship with the Diversity Career Consultant (and a major change) and I wanted to be like her (Shoutout to Shayna for being amazing). She sat me down and made me realize that I had to do the work in order to be great, especially when I have all the resources.
- You know yourself best.
- People can advocate for you all day long, but the only person who knows you best is you. Working with recruiting programs has made me realize that I am the only person who can voice my perspective and that my input is more valuable on my own story because I am living it. I know what I truly want and nobody else can get that for me.
- I knocked myself out before employers did.
- I came up with every excuse on why employers would not want me. But, I should have been telling myself reasons why they will want me. I psyched myself out by creating the “bad” candidate image of myself. So, this year, I went in with an open mind and used my experience on campus to show how I can be a benefit to a program.
- I asked a million questions.
- One thing I learned is that employers actually like to see that you’ve done your research and that you have questions about positions in the company/organization. I’m a Human Development major, so I would ask employers how can the skills I learn through my major help me within the company (because let’s be real, they can teach me all the technical skills later).
Now, this isn’t everything that can make or break a career fair for some, but for me, the career fair never seemed like a place for me and even after going, I don’t think it will be my favorite thing in the world.
The best thing about the experience though: The Diversity component.
- This opportunity allowed me to connect with people that I may not have ever talked to because the employers were actively looking for minorities and I wanted to talk to them on a more personal level. With this, I was able to get internship applications that I may not have ever known of and I became more comfortable with programs that are nationally acclaimed.
My second attempt was way more successful because I changed my mindset and made it a point to gain connections. I’m not saying I’ll be working for AT&T or Ernst & Young anytime soon, but meeting with recruiters and making them see my interest in the company/ organization is more realistic than just going to the table just to say I went.