The Career Fair — It’s Not Just for Seniors

Linda Yu is a senior majoring in Inter­na­tional Busi­ness and minoring in Inter­na­tional Affairs with a con­cen­tra­tion in Finance. She has com­pleted two co-​​ops within a finan­cial man­age­ment firm in Boston, MA and London, UK. She has studied abroad in Spain, Ire­land, and Eng­land. Follow/​tweet her at @lindayu925.

I have always been the type of person that gets ner­vous when meeting new people. It can be quite ironic how I am enrolled in busi­ness school because I’m a big intro­vert, the exact oppo­site of what busi­ness schools encourage you to be. So when I heard about the Fall Career Fair, the bigger of the two gen­eral career fairs that North­eastern Career Ser­vices hosts, I imme­di­ately dis­re­garded the oppor­tu­nity. At the time, I was a sopho­more and on the search for my first co-​​op. The Career Fair didn’t matter to me because I already had every­thing fig­ured out. I had exten­sively researched the com­pa­nies I wanted to work for and net­working didn’t seem nec­es­sary. I was plan­ning on nailing the inter­views and get­ting the job.

I asked myself: “Why not? What can I pos­sibly lose?” There was always the chance of humil­i­ating myself but I knew I had to let go of that someday. So I put on my best suit, a pair of shiny pumps, took out my port­folio into which I inserted 20 copies of my resume, and headed off to Cabot Cage.

Image from www​.cam​pusrec​.neu​.edu

Upon arrival, Career Ser­vices pro­vided me with a detailed list of employers and their exact loca­tions (I encourage you to research the com­pa­nies in advance, you can find

the com­pany list here).

Yes, it was crowded but not unman­age­able. Stu­dents and alumni were con­stantly leaving and arriving. There was a room where stu­dents could get orga­nized. I fol­lowed the map and went straight to the com­pa­nies I wanted to work for. The exten­sive research I con­ducted proved to be both useful and use­less at the same time. Employers were impressed with how much I knew about their com­pany. How­ever, I real­ized that I didn’t know enough about the com­pany until I spoke to someone that actu­ally worked there. The infor­ma­tion I received from employers made me realize that from my orig­inal target list, I truly only wanted to work for less than half of the com­pa­nies. This saved me time and spared my co-​​op coor­di­nator many headaches.

I explored the fair fur­ther and talked to com­pa­nies that I was inter­ested in but didn’t know too much about. Whether there were intern­ships, full time posi­tions, rota­tional pro­grams, or co-​​op posi­tions, the com­pa­nies there had so much to offer! It was inter­esting to me how com­pa­nies in the same industry often had dif­ferent selling points and I was able to gain expo­sure to var­ious indus­tries. Ini­tially, the Career Fair made me queasy but it turned out to be fun and informative.

A week after the fair, my co-​​op advisor called me and told me that a top 20 com­pany within the For­tune 500 wanted to inter­view me after they met me at the career fair. I was so sur­prised that they remem­bered me from the hun­dreds of stu­dents they had met that day. I went to the inter­view and a day later found out that I got the job! I was gloating while my friends were still searching for their co-​​ops. I guess they really should have gone to the Career Fair!

Image from North​eastern​.edu

After com­pleting 2 co-​​ops within a finan­cial man­age­ment com­pany in Boston and in London, I now know that my rea­sons for fearing the career fair never really end. You are always expected to market your­self, to net­work with other people and com­pa­nies, and to con­stantly learn. Some people will love the process and others will hate it. Some people will be better at this than others. For me, I guess the ques­tion to always ask your­self is “Why not? What can I pos­sibly lose?”