STUDENT BLOG: Approaching a Career Fair as an Underclassman

Within the first couple weeks of my freshman year, I learned about the opportunity to attend Isenberg Career Day. A couple of friends and I decided it’d be a great idea to attend and network with top-tier companies as early as possible in our college careers.

We confidently walked over to the Campus Center convinced we’d leave there with the most prestigious internships these companies had to offer. To our surprise, that prediction couldn’t have been any less accurate. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a sea of students dressed to the nines with perfected resumes, cover letters, and “elevator pitches.” To say we were intimidated by the professionalism of these students would have been a severe understatement.

After walking around for about 20 minutes and seeing all the great companies who came to recruit Isenberg students, we left. The pressure of being underdressed, having no “elevator pitch,” and resumes that were far from perfected, quickly got to us. The idea of wearing business professional attire to the career fair completely went over our freshmen heads.

While walking to the career fair, we were expecting the employers to come introduce themselves to us knowing how professional we thought we looked. That was simply not the case. I guess the recruiters didn’t find our khaki pants and untucked button up shirts very appealing.

Fortunately, through this new experience, we were able to get an idea of what career fairs were like and how to approach them the next time we were given the opportunity. We told ourselves next year would be our year to make a name for ourselves at Isenberg Career Day, but the pandemic changed our plans, turning everything virtual.

Being an underclassman, the sense of urgency to land an internship or job offer is not nearly as high as that of an upperclassman. In an in-person environment, this would be a tough obstacle for underclassmen to overcome. The great part of Isenberg Career Day being virtual is we have the privilege of setting up 1:1 appointments with recruiters, allowing for conversations and experiences that are far more intimate.

Sophomore year came around and I felt much more confident going into Isenberg Career Day. I had a chance to bulk up my resume through relevant work experience, club involvement, technical skill development, and the addition of a secondary major. Having the opportunity to network with over 70 reputable companies such as Amazon, Dell Technologies, Fidelity Investments, and Wayfair, can be exciting, but it can also be a bit overwhelming and intimidating. Proper preparation can minimize stress and make this process as efficient as possible.

Taking the time to research your target companies, as well as other companies you’re interested in, can go a long way. Going into a career fair knowing the positions each company has available to Isenberg students, qualifications for said positions, what majors they are looking to recruit, and a couple facts about the company that would impress a recruiter, could potentially be advantageous.

Taking advantage of all the career resources provided by Isenberg on IConnect such as The Isenberg Resume, The Isenberg Cover Letter Guide, Networking & LinkedIn Guide, Isenberg Virtual Career Day Tips for Success, etc. is a great way advance professionally and gain confidence in your professional self prior to Isenberg Career Day. Using these resources will put you a step ahead of the rest and make you a great candidate for any position you decide to apply for.

One last thing it is important to remember is that recruiters are people too. Although you may find them intimidating, recruiters understand the process you are going through and most are more empathetic than you would think. It’s more than likely that there will be some nerves entering that first room, but with the proper preparation, there is a good chance things will go well. So while you send your “Thank You” emails to each recruiter you speak with, take a chance to reflect and learn from your Isenberg Career Day experience as you continue to advance through your journey as a business professional.

John Gomes is a Chase Career Peer – click HERE to access his bio.

By John Gomes
John Gomes Chase Career Peer John Gomes