By Parisa Burton
With the College’s biannual career fair coming up, the Career Center held a “Prepare for The Career Fair” event on Wednesday, Feb. 15 in the Education building. This event gave students a competitive edge in the recruiting process.
The recruiters who participated are all partners of the Career Center at the College and will be present at the upcoming career fair on Feb. 22.
Many students have anxiety and confusion surrounding the fair and want to learn how to appeal to and stand out to recruiters. The event worked to ease some of this stress and help students feel prepared by talking directly to potential employers in an intimate setting.
There was a variety of tables to visit involving resume reviews, elevator pitches, networking checklists and general questions. Students worked in small groups and one-on-one with recruiters from Deloitte, Ernst & Young and more.
“Practicing your elevator pitch is important because this is the one thing future employers will remember about you, and it will set the tone for future conversations,” said Erik Sendel, a recruiter from Deloitte and College Alumni. He added that pitches should be tailored for each company to only highlight skills and experiences relevant to them.
Eleni Athanasiou, a recruiter from Ernst & Young, laid out the basic foundations for a successful outcome at the career fair and cleared some student confusion with regard to the application process.
According to Athanasiou, students should aim to talk to about six companies and do a multitude of research prior. Handshake provides a list of employers who will be attending the event. She added that students should not expect to apply on the spot and must formally apply on company websites prior to or after the fair.
Joe Sciacca, a second recruiter from Ernst & Young and recent College alumni, provided critical networking advice to guide students through the career fair and how to take advantage of school resources.
“You are here to milk this school for everything it has to offer. Not doing this to the fullest every day is a waste of your money,” Sciacca said. He added that it is crucial to make connections, like getting in touch with students at the College that work at companies you are interested in working for.
Sciacca recognizes that interviews and attending networking events can be anxiety-inducing and sheds importance on putting yourself out there even if it scares you at first.
“Repetition,” Sciacca said. “Apply to every company just to go to the interview. You can learn from past interviews and be better in the next one.”
According to Shannon Conklin, director of the Career Center, although these events can be anxiety-inducing it’s important to show up. The employers attending this particular fair want you to succeed, especially being partners with the College.
“They take the time physically to come to campus because they know TCNJ students will bring skills and leadership experience,” Conklin said.
Sciacca emphasizes that one should be informed and professional in an interview. In his job search process, Sciacca would go to the dry cleaners nearly every day to make sure his suit was up to par. You are projecting an image of yourself to these companies and need to think about little things like this.
“Utilize sites like CNBC or MarketWatch and find major events going on within companies to stand out to them. Don’t tell them how many employees they have, but pretend you work there and are concerned about the company,” Sciacca said.
Events like this one provide students with applicable techniques they can take with them to the career fair and beyond in their professional endeavors.
“There is nothing better to do for your future self than to prepare now,” said Anastasia Spinner, graduate assistant at the career center. “The career center is here to help you, so get your resume reviewed, your outfit checked, and plan your elevator pitch. Employers are ready to meet you!”
According to Conklin, this event gives students the opportunity to get prepared for the career fair in more of a learning environment than a recruiting environment. You are able to learn from and receive advice from recruiters before they are actively recruiting and get to know them in a smaller environment.
Education students can look forward to the Education Opportunities Fair on March 8 where organizations are recruiting for educational opportunities like teaching.
Students found the event to be very helpful in achieving professional development goals. Each recruiter did an exceptional job of providing students with useful tips and tricks to increase their confidence.
“I got my elevator pitch down, learned good talking points, received advice on whom to reach out to, and a good idea of what companies I want to visit first,” said Anthony Scarpa, a senior computer science major. “My favorite table was the ‘Outfit Checks and Networking Checklist’ with Joe because he hit a diverse number of checkpoints and integrated personal experience into it.”
The one-on-one aspect was a major highlight of the event, as it enabled students to receive critical feedback that was personal to their experience and skill sets.
“I learned how to approach employers in a positive and informative way,” said Rachel Castria, a senior communications major. “I also loved the intimacy of it and how it was centered on the student and that the representatives addressed my road to success personally. They were friendly and not intimidating. The whole experience was perfect.”