Making the Most of Career Fairs

A year ago, Electrical Engineering majors Daniela Bosze and Jose Gomez were in the same position as the 70 students who attended Tuesday’s Southern California Edison information session—wondering how to make the most of career fairs.

Bosze and Gomez attended the Edison info session last year, and stopped by the Edison booth at the fall Engineering Job & Internship Fair. Although Bosze said she hadn’t yet taken any classes in power, she expressed an eagerness to learn. Gomez hadn’t taken power classes either, but spent time before the job fair getting up to speed.

“You have to convey the message that you’re trying to learn,” said Bosze, who, like Gomez, is now a year-round Edison intern.

Edison senior engineer Jonathan Ly, who often works the Edison job fair booth, encouraged students to start attending fairs early to build networks and practice their professional demeanor.

“It’s not just a chance to pick up swag,” he said. “Whether you realize it or not, we’re sizing you up. You’re basically interviewing for a job by attending a career fair.”

First and foremost, he said, “You want to appear professional.” Although Ly also spent his college years wearing shorts and flip flops, that attire isn’t suitable for a career fair.

Secondly, he advised career fair attendees to practice their elevator pitch. Keep it short and sweet. Talk briefly about your background, interests, and any applicable experience. “I don’t want to hear your life story. Keep it quick. Keep it concise,” Ly said.

Other tips he shared:

  • Pick 3-5 companies to meet with
  • Research those companies beforehand
  • Have paper resume copies to hand out
  • Don’t be too casual
  • Don’t be so shy you can’t speak
  • Don’t ask what a company does—you should know that beforehand.
  • Be prepared for long lines.
  • If you feel a connection with the recruiter, request a business card
  • If you’re qualified for a position, ask about next steps.

Ly’s presentation was the first workshop of the semester offered by the COE Office of Professional Development & Internships. The CSULB Career Center will host the fall Engineering Job & Internship Fair on Wednesday, Sept. 20 from 12-4 p.m.