To be completely blatant, the answer is “don’t go” if you’re a first-year in college or younger. Spiffily-dressed in neat B&W business formal and shiny black heels, I marched confidently into my first college career fair hosted in our school’s Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) last semester – and was immediately shut down in the span of fifteen minutes.
It wasn’t anything to do with my resume, and definitely nothing with how I presented myself. As soon as I got to the front of the line at each booth, the most commonly asked question was “What year are you?” I soon learned that unless I answered with ‘third’ or ‘fourth,’ the recruiters and representatives already had their eyes glazed over, or had cast their eyes elsewhere hunting for prospective graduating seniors.
Unfortunately for first- and sometimes second-year students, these company recruiters search for juniors and seniors because they want to be able to hire students who will be more likely to stay on as full-time hires after their internships. It saves them time and money to invest in older upperclassmen, and it annoys/bothers them to have to talk to hundreds of “unqualified” freshmen a day because they aren’t looking for students who can’t commit full-time to the job until 3 to 4 years in the future. Although sometimes they also just assume that freshmen don’t have experience – which is definitely not always true.
While startups do tend to be a bit more friendly, the recruiters I talked to from larger companies such as eBay or Fitbit were slightly more on the rude side of turning me away upon hearing me say “I’m a freshman.” Yet there were also many times when the company would forget to ask my class standing after seeing my resume and LinkedIn, set up an interview with me, and get ten minutes into the interview – but that’s generally as far as I can get.
At that point, they normally ask questions such as “How long ago did you declare your major?” or “Would you be able to work for us full-time this coming fall?” that eventually lead to them disappointedly discovering my first-year status, and then reciting a very dejected “Oh. Well maybe we’ll be in contact once you’re closer to graduation.”
But overall, it’s okay! I think that even though I learned the tough way that career fairs in college aren’t worth going to as a freshman, I do know that they’ll really welcome me a year or two from now.
See you next Friday,