A few days ago I added the the General Interest Career Fair into my blackberry calendar (Oct. 1st 10:30-2:30 in Dillon). It’s an easy way to meet employers one-on-one without having to go into the city or set up an appointment—it’s on your own terms. I’ve gone every year since I’ve been at Princeton (4) and each year my strategy changes a little.
My freshman year was a learning experience. I showed up in shorts and a t-shirt, having intended to go to the gym around noon on Friday, and instead found the basketball courts filled with employers. Thinking “why not!” I walked around and talked to several employers, trying to figure out which company belonged to which industry (not as easy as you’d think). I remember going up to the SAP Americas table and asking them what they did, and if they thought I should apply in future years. The representatives from SAP, of course, were very professional and not only explained their industry, but also encouraged me to apply for internships my sophomore year. In retrospect, however, I bet they were unimpressed by my attire and my lack of knowledge about their company. So embarrassing!
My sophomore year, I was a little more prepared. I came in full business attire and had resumes to spare. By that point, I knew what companies like Bain, Centerview, and Oliver Wyman were and what type of student might be interested in them. I was still curious about investing strategies and finance at the time, but chose to go the media and advertising route, hoping for a more creative summer internship. I zeroed in on a few companies that I knew would have an advertising/marketing department: Anheuser-Busch, Madison Square Garden, Target, and Rosetta Marketing. I should have done some research on what positions they had available, though, because the majority of the companies were not accepting applications from sophomores that year. If I had checked out the Career Fair page on Tiger Tracks beforehand, I would have known which companies were open to my resumes and which were not. It was still worth my while to talk to the organizations that were strictly looking for juniors and seniors. I was told by recruiters that, they would “keep your resume flagged” for next year.
My junior year I was really pumped. I had on a nice, business-casual outfit and felt confident. I brought with me a stack of resumes as well as a notepad and summaries of all of the organizations I wanted to visit. I ended up speaking with representatives from five companies: Johnson & Johnson, Madison Square Garden, Time Inc., Under Armour, and Anheuser-Busch. A few of the organizations were not accepting applications that year, and therefore I simply used the time with respective recruiters to learn more about first-year positions out of college for my senior year. However, Madison Square Garden and Under Armour turned out to be very, very good visits for me. I ended up in fantastic, 20-minute conversations at each booth. I gave the recruiters my resume and told them I would be applying for their program that night. (If I could do it again, I would have already applied before the fair, though.) I got their cards and followed up the next day. Immediately, I got a first-round phone interview with both companies the following week. Before the end of the next month, I had an internship offer from both organizations.
This year is the most important, however, because I’m no longer looking for summer internships, but rather a good job where I can begin a career. I plan to talk to a wide range of companies this year and discern whether I fit into their equations.
It is as equally important process for students as it is for recruiters. As students, we try to figure out if the company is doing the types of the things we like to do, if it is projected to do well in the next few years, and if it is nurturing to new employees. The recruiters, on the other hand, are trying to make their company as appealing as possible to prospective employees. They are looking for well-qualified, friendly people to grow with their companies.
My friend works for Bain and will be attending the fair as a recruiter. He gave me some good advice, “The young alumni and new recruiters are sometimes just as nervous and excited as the students! Therefore, the more confidence you exude, the more confident we feel, and the better the interview.”
He also told me to think of the process as though I were pitching myself to an employer off of their general requirements list. I should be able to compare my skill-set with the desired qualities of applicants on the organizations’ lists, and determine with which companies I best align. If I can see a good match early on and can verbalize a favorable comparison of my abilities with their desired qualities, I am more likely to make a lasting impression in a sea of applicants. This type of targeted preparation will keep me ahead of the pack, making me appear as though I have an insight into the pointed skills for which a company is looking.
My last bit of advice is to come early. There were over 1,000 students there last year, and a projected 1,500 for this year. Be the first to stand out!
Hi Everyone! Since this is my first post, I thought I would introduce myself. My name is Jessie Dicovitsky and I am an intern at Career Services. I am a senior majoring in visual arts and getting a certificate in creative writing. I’m involved in several activities on campus such as Business Today, Circle of Women, the Republican Club, and peer advising, as well as being a member of a sorority and the Tiger Inn eating club.
I wanted to blog for Career Services, because I’m not one of those kids who has it all figured out—I have no idea what my job will be upon graduation or even exactly what career path I am going to take. Therefore, I’m just like you: looking for internships and jobs, preparing for interviews, and hopefully figuring things out along the way.
The last couple of years I worked in the entertainment industry with the help of some generous Princeton alumni. But this year, I want to keep my options open. I just finished applications for a ton of consulting companies and am now scouring TigerTracks to see if there are any interesting jobs related to advertising and marketing. (Sign in to TigerTracks and then under “Job Search” look for “Employer Industry” and then highlight “Communications/Media”) I found a whole bunch of stuff for soon-to-be graduates, so it will take me a while to sift through the positions.
Since there is no one particular industry in which I am interested, I’m really focusing on being as prepared as possible for any type of phone or in-person interview coming up in the next couple of months. I went to the Resume Night at Frist on Tuesday so that the Career Services staff could help sharpen some of the points on my resume. My next step is to go to the Interview Skills & Strategies session this Thursday (9/23 from 4:45-5:30 at Career Services) to be able to adapt to any sort of interview environment. If I have to miss that, though, I can always make it up at Career Services Class of 2011 Walk-in Hours this week and next at 3-5PM or at the senior Mock Interview Day on Friday (9/24 from 2-5 at Career Services).
Some of my friends have told me that all of this preparation is a little overzealous, but then again, some of my friends have amazing I-banking offers and don’t have to worry about any of this… I’m not too concerned about trying to find an offer immediately, but I’d like to be ready if the opportunity arises. It’s not like attending any of the Career Services events take up that much time!—I’m still watching Party Down every night and one alumnus just sent me a screener of the movie BURIED that comes out this Friday (It’s amazing!! Go see it!!). My only point is: it never hurts to be prepared.