Career Fair Blues

If you went to the career fair and are feeling a little bummed about your time there, this post is for you.

If you thought this post was going to be about my printing my resume on the wrong kind of paper and realizing my good shoes are in Massachusetts, you’re wrong.   I could have written about forgetting that my suit has been in my carry-on luggage since July, thus consequently making it truly, astonishingly wrinkled.  I could have detailed my attempts to steam wrinkles out of the aforementioned suit in my bathroom for an hour and only succeeding in facilitating a massive rust stain on a previously white oxford shirt, but we’ll save that for another day.

The fact is that the career fair only caters to a couple very specific fields.  This being a university, it’s likely that you have not studied anything applicable to these fields.  After attending the career fair, you might feel a little discouraged.  You might even start to panic that you studied the wrong major and decide your life is over.  This is not the case.

It can be shocking to see thousands of your normally slovenly peers suddenly Don Draper’d up in black suits with conservative ties marching in a procession to the basketball stadium, clutching resume-filled leather Penn State folios, vying for attention in a science fair-come-meat-market, all in the same room I saw Bruce Springsteen perform in three years ago (not to go off on too much of a tangent, but doesn’t it feel like we’re overdressing for this thing a little bit? All the recruiters I spoke with today were wearing company t-shirts or polos.  One multinational was even wearing hockey jerseys.  I mean, come on).

After my trip to the career fair today, I was on the phone with my mom and I told her that I wasn’t expecting much interest in my anticipated international relations degree.  Furthermore, I told her I’m confident in my skillset and confident there is a job out there for me, just not with an accounting firm.  She concurred.  “One of my friends got a job at an accounting job right out of college.  He had to go count chickens.  They had a client that listed 10,000 chickens as assets, so he would have to go count all the chickens.  He would come home with feathers in his hair.  You don’t want to do that.”  Right on, Mom.

So if you’re worried about never getting a job, please climb down from the ledge as you’re making us anxious.  Please know you do have strengths.  These strengths may not lie in accounting or supply chain management, but those are certainly not the only outlets beneficial to society nor the only industries which issue paychecks.  Sure the economy sucks, sure growing up is scary, sure leaving school for an unknown future is terrifying—but you do have skills and talents.  Figure out your strengths, set some goals, and make a plan.  Decide where you want to be and figure out what you have to do to get there.

It’s normal to feel discouraged or weird after the career fair.  But here’s the trick– ask yourself if a year from now you want to look back on this day from your parents’ house as a first in a series of downers, or as the catalyst for an extensive soul & job search that led you to your new job?

Dennis McNamara is a senior Unemployment Benefit Studies major and can be sent  job offers and hot soup at [email protected] & @dennismcnamara.  Incidentally, his mother works in Supply Chain Management.

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About the Author

Dennis McNamara

Dennis McNamara is a senior studying International Relations. The product of a long and muddy Irish lineage, Dennis blames that sour heritage and his Boston area upbringing for the flaws in his character. The only paid writer for Onward State, Dennis has never been described as a team player as he often thinks of himself as “the smartest guy in the room.” In addition to contributing to Onward State, Dennis is also Creative Director for Full Ammo Improv. Dennis isn’t sure when he’s kidding either.

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