Career Fairs and English/CW Majors

The fall career fair season will start up almost immediately when your return to school in the fall, with the Business Career Fair taking place on Sept. 19 and 20, the largest and most bustling of all the campus career fairs. It will be followed by the Illini Career and Internship Fair a month later. Yes, you should go, even if you’re not immediately in the market for a job. (Definitely go if you’re a senior planning to work after graduation!) Here’s why you should go:

  • You can start learning about possible employers and openings.
  • You can get comfortable with the version of yourself that puts professional clothes and seeks out opportunities.
  • You can get practice talking to employers (introducing yourself, asking smart questions, getting insights into the organization).
  • You can start a conversation that will get you closer to a job when you ARE actively looking.
  • You might get an interview…and a job.

Here’s why you might not want to:

  • You have to dress professionally.
  • You will be asked for your resume, so you’ll need to bring several copies with you.
  • Striking up conversations with strangers is uncomfortable and weird.
  • Career fairs are hot, noisy, and full of stressed out people who you will be convinced are more qualified that you.
  • Big corporate employers dominate such events — and you may not want that kind of job.

You should go anyway. All the things that make a career fair difficult are things that make finding any first post-college job difficult. They also get easier with practice (really!). A great way to get the most of the campus career fairs is to take Career and Internship Preparation, an eight-week one-credit online course in the first eight weeks of the semester. In this course, you’ll put together your resume, practice your “elevator pitch” and other conversational tactics with employers, and identify some promising ob/internship openings to pursue. You’ll make a “field trip” to the Business Career Fair so that you are ready to talk to employers in earnest at the Illini Career and Internship Fair. Register for ENGL 199-CIP (CRN 65563).

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