Today, I would like to talk about opportunities. As the career fair approaches, each of us tends to look at ourselves and ask “What can I bring to the table?” At the same time, we look at the list of companies and wonder, “What job will I be happy going to every day?” These are not easy questions, and they do not have simple answers.
“What can I bring to the table?” Everyone here at RPI brings the reputation of an amazing school. When we graduate, we will be in a select group of students that studied and succeeded at Rensselaer, but what sets you apart from your classmates? GPA is important, but employers look for more than good grades, so don’t let a lower GPA get you down or a higher GPA make you become overconfident. Employers look for things like communication skills, work ethic, time management skills, leadership, and passion. Extracurricular activities allow an employer to see that you have passions outside of school. It shows them that you are committed to something along with your studies, and that you are able to balance multiple activities and manage your time well. Are you a club officer? You can market this leadership role to employers. Leading your peers teaches you so many things that you cannot learn from a book. You must learn to communicate effectively and work hard to lead by example. Take a step back from the grades and course list and think about yourself as an employee, a worker, and a person. Employers want to be able see the whole package, not just one page in a book. There is something unique about you. Find this quality and let employers know what you bring to the table.
“What job will I enjoy going to every day?” The only way to know what you like is to try things. Every experience you have is valuable. You either learn what you like to do, or you figure out what you don’t like. Both will help you in the future to find that job that gives you a purpose and is worth more than just a paycheck. Here at RPI, we have so many opportunities to try new things. Do you like to perform research in a lab? Do you enjoy using your hands and building things? Do you prefer working closely in teams or would you rather work on more individualized projects? These are all things you can discover by getting involved in clubs and activities at RPI. So don’t be afraid to try new things, and it is never too late to get involved.
This weekend, almost 200 companies will be coming to campus specifically looking for RPI students to fill their co-op and full-time positions. They are here for us, so go to the career fair prepared and you will succeed. All week, the CCPD has resumania from 1–3 pm where they will be performing resume critiques. They also have countless workshops to prepare you to speak with employers, practice your 60 second sell, or teach you how to succeed in a behavioral interview. Use all of these tools. Once you learn how to market yourself, and I promise, you are marketable, the opportunities will be yours for the taking. When Friday rolls around just remember, you have something to bring to the table, and your dream job may be waiting for you in the Armory.
Good luck, and happy job hunting!