The shirts were ironed and the shoes were shined all in preparation for Friday, September 25—the morning of the career fair. After countless info sessions, résumé critiques, and mock interviews, the students of RPI were ready in their best business attire. Upon entering the Mueller Center gym, the temperature rises by several degrees and the line of vision is disturbed by a condensed sea of people. Companies including Google, General Electric, Amazon, Cisco Systems, and Boeing were present. There were over 200 companies that participated in this two-day career fair—165 on Friday and 70 on Saturday. According to Arjun Sharma ’16, co-director of the team that managed the 37th Annual NSBE/SHPE Career Fair, there is a recruiting committee that handles the invitations of the companies. However, due to the long-standing reputation of RPI’s career fair, many simply register themselves. Along with pertinent facts, Sharma also shared his thoughts on the career fair: “It is a great experience. This is just a very well put-together career fair, and this year, our recruiting committee has worked really hard to get together a lot of different types of companies, not just engineering firms, but a lot of business firms for the new majors we have at this school. Business, analytics, more tech companies, and start-ups as well. It’s become very diverse over the years.”
For many of the upperclassmen, going to the career fair and talking to potential employers is not a daunting notion at all. However, for many freshmen, the idea of presenting themselves with a lack luster résumé and little to no job experience can be a challenge. Many of the alumni job recruiters had advice and stories of their career fair experience to share.
Eric Nill ’13 said, “It was pretty intimidating at first, because there are so many companies here,” when asked about the first fair he participated in. “A lot of [the companies] are very reputable. We’ve got Google right down the aisle here, and all the big players are here. At some point you realize they are looking for you just as much as you are looking for them.” When asked if there was any advice to give underclassmen or students who are experiencing the fair for the first time, he stated, “You have to be willing to take on an internship, or co-op, which of course, the co-op means you’ll graduate later, which not everybody’s okay with. As a freshman, you should really just be trying to talk to the representatives from the companies, get a feel for what everybody does.” One of the more important statements, at least in the view of this author, made by Nill was, “Seek those [companies] out because that’s the way to stand apart from the rest of the people. I mean, everybody here at RPI—we’re all smart people—so, going to RPI doesn’t save you when you go to the RPI career fair.”
Many view themselves as an insignificant detail in the bigger picture that is the fair, with the masses of people in attendance. But the reality is that there is great potential here for an individual to stan dout. In the case of Peter Fernandes ’12, he stated, “Where I’m working at now I found through the career fair my senior year. Basically, I found my boss and one of my coworkers, and we had a conversation that led to an interview, and then I ended up taking a full-time position.” In addition to personal stories, Fernandes also had advice for students trying to navigate the tumultuous fair. “I would recommend being proactive in your research. I feel like a lot of students who come here are solely relying on the flash and the company displays. It makes sense. You want to work for a hip company, but sometimes the hippest looking companies aren’t always the experience that you’re looking for. I would say, ‘Study up.’”
Upperclassmen also have advice for the rest of RPI’s students. Bria Collins ’16 said, “I’ve always liked the career fair. I know that talking to companies [has helped me to] build up more confidence and feel more comfortable discussing my skills and marketing myself. Classes like Professional Development III have been really helpful.”
Even freshmen who were experiencing the fair for the first time had helpful remarks to make. “It was a little overwhelming. The first time you walk up to an employer and you have no idea what to say,” said Alexandra Jaro ’19. “So, I just said my name, my major, and after we got the conversation flowing, it went a little less awkward. It was easier to ask questions about the company, and I would definitely bring more résumés next time.”
Lucas Miller ’19 was in awe of the opportunities available at the career fair. “It’s a really cool system where you get to talk with recruiters and dialogue, and to start that dialogue. Even for freshmen, just coming in and being able to observe that dialogue between some of the seniors that have more built-up résumés, you can kind of understand what you need to be aiming for and fix anything that you can, and start working now.”
Once again, the career fair was a success, with a high attendance rate, and with hopeful attendees. “It’s really crowded, but, in general, there’s a lot of good companies here, so I’m certainly optimistic,” said James Flamino ’18.
For more information about the career fair, visit http://careerfair.rpi.edu/