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EXPO Advice from a Successful Student

Today's posting is written by Ben Heimbach, who is a Chemical Engineering student graduating in December 2017.  He has had two internships at Goodyear and attributes much of his success to being career fair ready.  

In my time at Ohio State, I have attended two Engineering Expos, one SWE Career Fair, and info sessions for Marathon, General Mills, Nestle, Goodyear and L’Oréal. I have landed interviews with Goodyear, Nestle, General Mills, Campbell’s and Ingevity from the career fair. I have then gone on to land phone interviews, webcam interviews and on-site interviews.

Preparation for the fair begins for me by looking through the company list that ECS puts out. I choose companies to talk to based on a number of factors. I choose 4-5 companies that are within my scope of study that are larger companies that I am interested in. These lines will most likely be longer than the others so I make sure I use the map to determine which order I plan to talk with companies. I also choose to talk to a few smaller companies. The smaller companies are more likely to be less competitive, and a smaller company may be the desired goal of many attending the career fair.  I usually start off with a company that is not necessarily on the top of the list of interest to break the ice and get comfortable. I check myself in the Union restroom first to check my appearance which includes my hair, face and suit. I have a padfolio that includes at least twenty copies of my resume, a pen and a couple business cards.

My elevator speech starts off by stating my name, major and graduation date. I mention my previous co-op experiences and my involvement in projects or clubs at Ohio State. Before I had co-op experience to discuss, I included how I got interested into Chemical Engineering. I then add a statement about my interests outside of school and see if the recruiter can relate. This statement varies depending on how I read the person recruiting. I ask the recruiter to offer some background what they do at the company they work at. After they answer I begin to talk about positions I saw on the company's website or on the ECS online system. I explain why I like the notion of the position because of X and Y, but I mention I was more drawn to the company by reviewing their company values and commitment to the environment. I keep a timer in my head to limit the discussion to 5-6 minutes. A mistake I made at the first Engineering Expo was standing in a line too long. I would recommend that a freshman or sophomore try to maximize the number of companies to talk to while a junior should stick to a list of companies and wait in the line no matter what.

Following up with a company comes in stages. At the career fair, I would recommend that the student attempt to obtain a business card from the employer and determine the next steps in the hiring process. Following up on an interview will occasionally include emailing a variety of people that interviewed you. Make sure to remember something that seemed important to that individual about the company. Include that info in the follow-up and include how your morals and career goals line up with the company.

Many info sessions happen in the weeks following up to the career fairs and attendance is the first critical step in making you more different. It shows drive and effort. A familiar face on fair day is more likely to land an interview. Reading company 10-K reports helped me talk about companywide initiatives.

For more career fair related advice and to hear from additional students that have been successful at career fairs...consider attending one of ECS' upcoming Career Fair Success workshops.  For dates, times, and locations, visit CareerEngine's "Events" tab.  

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
-Michael Jordan

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