All spruced up in my new suit, I went to the career fair last year ready to chat with employers. As a biology and applied psychology and human development major, I had little to no interest in all of the fancy business companies that were present, but I decided to give it a shot, and to see if maybe a company would grab my attention.
My story doesn’t end the way that you’re probably expecting it to—I didn’t end up making a connection with the CFO of Deloitte, nor did I land an internship with the FBI. I did, however, get lots of free pens and company swag!
I didn’t find what I was looking for at the career fair, but I did, however, learn about the importance of hiring timelines and the fact that I was actually right on track to set myself up with a summer internship.
Hiring timelines are essential for students to understand because there seems to be so much pressure to get an internship or job by the end of the first semester of your junior or senior year, and it leaves students looking to go into anything besides business quite stressed. Most of my friends going into finance or consulting were frantically securing internships, or even had a job secured before the career fair, but this is because financial services and consulting company recruiters hire in the summer/early fall. Hiring timelines indicate the time that an industry is looking to hire new employees, and for a STEM major like myself, this turned out to be very late in the spring semester.
About a month after the career fair in Conte, I began hearing buzz about the STEM fair and my interest was immediately sparked. After attending the fall career fair, not only did I realize that I gained a sense of confidence when talking with employers, but I also was able to craft a perfect elevator pitch and better my small-talking abilities. Going into this fair, knowing that the STEM companies were most likely going to hire me around the spring semester, my primary goal was to network with potential employers in order to make myself a memorable candidate for when the applications were due.
I think the advantage of waiting until the spring semester to submit an application is that I had so much time to email recruiters, perform in-depth research on companies, and truly find out where I would find my perfect fit for the summer.
For me, this company turned out to be the New England Aquarium, where I secured my dream internship of working with penguins on a daily basis. I was hired in May, and was able to start working in June! Throughout the spring semester I stayed in touch with the internship coordinator that I met at the STEM fair, made some LinkedIn connections with BC Alum who worked at the aquarium, and was able to present myself in the best way possible.
Looking back, I wish I could tell my past-self, and any other STEM or liberal arts students not looking to go into business, that everything is going to be OK, and that researching hiring timelines for a prospective industry could significantly decrease any apprehension surrounding the job-search process.
So no, I did not find what I was looking for at the career fair, but I did discover the importance of hiring timelines, the importance of networking in the downtime of hiring cycles, and that persistency with employers and confidence in oneself can go a long way.
—By Frank Marrone, LSOE ’20, Peer Career Coach