Career Fair 2019 and Beyond!

Career Fairs are excellent ways to get into contact with the many professionals realizing the worlds potentials. While most people attending career fairs are in search of an internship or job I would suggest that it is an excellent conversation ground to learn more the state of your field. If you are there simply to mix and mingle though try going towards the end when your conversation time isn’t compromising another’s opportunity to secure a future.

As fun and simple as the career fairs structure may be preparation is key! Try to prepare at least 4 weeks prior to the career fair with the goal of being completely ready 1 week before the fair. Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the career fair:

Submit your portfolio and resume in advance. PennDesign compiles a booklet of resumes and portfolios for firms to prescreen allowing interviews to be scheduled in advance on the date of the career fair. If your college doesn’t do this try applying to firms that may be at the fair at least 2 weeks before. This allows enough time to hear back from the firm and potentially schedule to meet them at the fair. Both you and the firm will appreciate the use of already scheduled employment search time to complete the standard interview step.

Update yourself across all platforms. Once you’ve sent in your new resume and portfolio make sure to update the platforms through which people are going to get to know you first, think LinkedIn, Handshake, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, your personal website. At the very least these sites should have your most recent photo and any revisions to your bio or work/classes/skills.

Watch for emails or phone calls. Some firms may begin scouting and reaching out in advance of the career fair. If you have been preparing and are updated across all platforms in the 2 weeks prior to career fair then you can expect to hear from someone.

Plan early on to clear your schedule. You’ll appreciate having the full day free. The time can be used to prepare, schedule in interview time, and mingle after the event. However you end up spending the time it will allow you to relax and focus more without a million other deadlines all for the same time you’d planned to spend on your future.

Read up, plan questions, and think ahead. Your college should release a list of attending firms. Use this list to do some basic research on all the firms. By doing this you’ll learn a lot about your field but also how to spend your time at the fair. Which firms attracted you the most? Why? What kind of work do you want to do or learn from? Are there already open positions you can apply for?

Prioritize. Now that you’ve done your research make a list. Write out the firms you want to speak with, the questions you have for them, and your goals for any position you plan to hold.

Ultimately a connection is the best thing to make! You may not get an internship or job offer but you hopefully have made some new connections and discovered more about your field. From these conversations consider what you could improve, know more about, or keep doing to pave the path towards a your preferred future.

PIWA’s Mentorship Program

A lot can be learned from a mentor, particularly one in a position you have yet to be in.  This past year I joined PennDesign’s PIWA Mentorship program. I hoped that I might learn something about the field of architecture and the internship search process that I hadn’t learned through my own research.

My mentor was extremely kind, very available, and super helpful! I am glad that I did speak with her several times throughout the semester. She helped review my portfolio, talk about the job application process, and general ideas for keeping in the loop in the field.

I found her most helpful in the decision process. I was nervous to ask about wages, about assistance with relocation, about taking time to decide which offer to accept. My biggest fear had to be that by pushing too much in any of these areas I might offend or close doors before I had even fully opened them. What I learned is that it is all open negotiation. People can’t know that you need time unless you ask. It is okay to have options. Respect the time that you are given, be prompt to reply, courteous in your writing, and try to keep everyone up to date. Once you have accepted something don’t waste others time. Let people know you appreciate the follow up but have accepted another offer. If you are really interested in the firm despite accepting another offer,  consider expressing this interest and mentioning future availability should they call.

I don’t believe that you need to go out and adopt a mentor at every single place. Certainly though there is lots to learn from those around you particularly those excited to teach. It was wonderful to have a such an amazing person to speak with!

I plan to participate in the Mentorship program again this year and look forward to what I will learn! As well I have rejoined M.Arch Mentors, a student led organization which pairs incoming students with returning students to welcome and help people settle in. I can’t wait to get to know my mentee and hopefully help her achieve her goals at Penn this year!