My experience at the UNL Spring Career Fair for Business & Liberal Arts was satisfying, and helpful. It helped me become comfortable speaking with businesses and potential employers; unfortunately, it did so without giving me the opportunity to speak with someone employed in the field I plan to enter; I wasn’t able to speak with a librarian. While that was disappointing, though not surprising, I did my best to navigate the hundreds of businesses and organizations that were there, both to practice my networking skills with professionals and to see if there were any companies that caught my eye.
I was relatively confident during the event, as I had been advised to dress professionally, abandoning my sneakers for a smart pair of heels, my jeans for an appropriate skirt. Ensuring that I looked professional, I felt professional. I kept my resume with me at all times, and though no booth that I approached asked to see it, knowing that I had prepared for it furthered my confidence even more.
Despite this, I was a bit nervous approaching my first booth with my class partner. A publishing booth, it had a line of students waiting to speak with the representatives, but when it was our turn, we introduced ourselves and asked simple questions of the company. It was much less stressful than a job interview, and much more conversational, possibly due to the fact that the representatives of all the businesses and organizations were meeting with students as equals, rather than as potential employers and employees.
This pattern held strong for all of the booths my partner and I visited; we would introduce ourselves, ask a question or two each about the company, and patiently listen to the prepared speeches of the representatives manning the booths. Some of the organizations we visited seemed flustered at the thought of hiring an English major, and some were much more excited, understanding that English majors typically come into jobs with strong writing, reading, research, and critical thinking skills that will be a major boon to most any company.
I was at first skeptical about being required to attend with a partner from class, but once we were there I was pleased to have done so- it served as another way to dissolve any anxieties I might have had speaking with the representatives, and my partner Alex helped make it more fun than it would have been otherwise.
I was surprised, having never been to a career fair prior to this, at the broad array of organizations that arrived to speak with the students. I was able to meet with representatives from automotive sales industries, human resources companies, the publishing industry, media consultants, and the federal Peace Corps. And that was just who I was able to stop and speak with. There were dozens of other booths, and even for students who attended the fair with a plan for their future, such as myself, I’m certain they were able to speak with someone from a business that interested them.
And, simply because I have a plan to enter the grandiose world of library science after I graduate doesn’t mean I can’t take advantage of internships that are offered before I graduate. Which is good, because the plethora of internships available (it seemed like most booths that I saw and spoke with were offering them) would make any student’s resume that much more attractive, for the experience and responsibility it illustrates.