Benefits, drawbacks of NSBE/SHPE Career Fair

On Friday, I went to the RPI career fair. After navigating the long line, getting vetted for the dress code, and figuring out where I wanted to go, I stepped into the Armory and was immediately overwhelmed. As a freshman, I didn’t really pay attention to the career fair, because my summer was already booked, so I didn’t fully grasp its magnitude or general claustrophobia. So many people, so many tables, so many displays trying to be unique and special, and on top of all that, so many recruiters that have too much on their plates who are tasked with vetting applicants in insignificant blocks of time. I think something needs to change.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the career fair is a good resource for people looking to further their careers and improve their futures. It provides valuable lessons to college students: how to dress up, how to pitch yourselves, and how to create resumes that won’t get trashed immediately. It sets up connections between companies and RPI in ways that no other event could. It also allows for more personal networking to take place—I have the emails of several recruiters that I plan on talking to that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t attended. I also have a lot of goodies that, among other things, allow me to not have to go shirt shopping in the foreseeable future (thank you DraftKings!). Jokes aside, let me highlight some changes I would like to see.

First, the smaller things. I feel like the area was too crowded. I did not like how the floor was laid out, with narrow hallways and large empty areas behind company tables. It was counterproductive, and maybe a bit discouraging; students were packed in like sardines while waiting for recruiters to open up. Meanwhile, recruiters themselves would try not be crushed into their inerviewees. This all happened while the area behind tables was sparsely populated, with a good portion of empty space holding nothing but daisy chained power cords. Also, a sore point amongst my upperclassmen friends was the choice not to distribute bags. I felt that carrying stuff under resume holders ended up being a hassle, which led to students crowding companies that gave out bags. This would not have been a problem if they were given out in the first place. Besides, wouldn’t it have been great advertising for next year’s career fair?

My biggest concern with the career fair, however, was the number of times I was told to apply online instead of giving people my resume. It seemed like, for some companies at least, the recruiters were only there to filter out people and gauge their interest; every stand I went to told me to apply online and submit a PDF form of my resume to an online database. Some companies went as far as not taking resumes, instead giving out information as to how to apply through their websites. Obviously, that might have just been a nice way for them to turn me down, but if not, then something has to change.

Maybe turn the career fair into an informal, even casual, recruiting session. Maybe have it be like a speed dating event, where recruiters are given a minute to get to know you. Maybe even have companies sponsor events, similar to Greek rush. Obviously some of those *coughlastonecough* are unrealistic, but I think we should get the ball rolling on possible career fair revamp discussions.