Editorial Notebook

Career fair monster attacks RPI

It is my last year here at RPI and thus my job search has becomes more necessary and urgent. I have even done the unthinkable; I have purchased a grey suit.

Oh how I wanted to buy that yellow suit! I begged and pleaded with all who would listen. My friends said I was being ridiculous, and the clothing lady said I looked like Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter. All I saw was a beacon of color, a ray of sunshine through a dark cloud. Oh how I wish I could have bought that yellow suit.

Whilst its cut may have been old fashioned, its color was perfect. So bright and vibrant, I had no trouble finding it on the sales rack. Compared to the $100–200 black and grey suits littered around Macy’s, this yellow beauty was only $40. I would have stood out in the crowd of darkness! But no, I was told this wasn’t the time to be whimsical or happy. The career fair is not for such things. It is for professionalism and adulthood.

Each year, hundreds of students and employers pack themselves into the armory, forming one colorless mass that is the job-seeking monster. Dealing resumes like currency, students purchase favor from the recruiters; they try, through accomplishments and awards, to prove themselves worthy of an internship or job. Often in my job search process, I have viewed this monster as suffocating or frightening. It is a symbol of conformity and the death of my younger self and I, in my yellow suit, could slay this beast! I used to see the fair as the ultimate form of bullshitting; students tailor their daily lives in order to prove themselves to complete strangers. Everyone is judged and no one is happy about it.

The roar of the crowd is too much for the meek and introverted. No. One must be fearless and loud to be heard above the din. The meek are driven away whilst the ambitious thrive. When I put that yellow suit on, I felt confident and ready to take on anyone. My introverted self was safely guarded behind the shield of sunshine. I was a knight in sunny armor.

However, the closer I get to graduating and to leaving RPI for good (and the older I get), the more I begin to see that this view point is wrong. Whilst there is a significant level of “tailoring” a resume must go through before being given to a potential employer the career fair is a valid opportunity for students and recruiters to get to know each other. Amongst this job fair monster, people are meeting, shaking hands, and forming relationships that will hopefully begin careers and lives outside of Rensselaer. This dark grey monster shouldn’t be seen in its group blob form, but at an individual level, one on one.

The career fair is a time for students to stand out individually through their personality and abilities. It is for a recruiter to see who you are in order to determine who you will be as an employee. You are an individual based upon your accomplishments. Your sense of self should be reflected through your handshake, smile, and resume, not your ability to stand out in a sea of black. It is not the place for a yellow suit.

So, I will appear at this upcoming career fair in my grey suit and tailored resume. I will meet new people and hopefully (fingers crossed) make enough of an impression that someone will hire me. For, this is a time of adventure and bravery. I may not be clad in yellow armor, but hopefully my experiences, GPA, and leadership activities will be my guide to the perfect career post graduation.