Business casual, resumes and, for some, a reminder of dwindling time until graduation

We’re all familiar with the Career Fair drill: dress for the job you want (not the job you have), keep your handshake firm and don’t get the crisp new copies of your resume wet as you run from Collins in the rain five minutes before the event.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, Marshall Hall was filled with students in business-casual attire waiting their turn to talk to representatives from companies and non-profits ranging from Target to Teach for America. Following the event, Career and Employment Services sent an email asking all attendees to fill out a quick survey regarding their experience at the Fair. As I looked at the brief questionnaire, I realized that for second-semester seniors with graduation looming ever closer, the answers are hitting a little closer to home.

What prompted you to attend the Career Fair?

The available answer options include promotion via various social media sites, CES emails, etc. While the event was well advertised, many of us know what actually compelled us to attend the event—word of mouth. Texts fly back and forth in the days and hours preceding, asking if your friends are going to attend and guilt-ridden replies of, “I should probably go to that…”

What was your primary reason for attending the Career Fair?

Exploring career options and looking for a job or internship post-graduation are obvious responses. A more base explanation is the rising level of sheer panic that many of us experience while going through the post-graduate job search. There is an inherent feeling that, if you don’t spend at least 40 minutes circling around the tightly packed booths handing out resumes, you might never get a job.

What other resources are you using to find job and internship opportunities?

The questionnaire lists the usual suspects, such as LinkedIn, CES, LoggerJobs and basic networking from family members to faculty. Especially with Puget Sound’s strong alumni relations, personal networking is one of the most valuable skills to have in your arsenal.

A good number of the representatives at the event wore badges signifying their alumni status and, as one said, “We come to Puget Sound because we know the quality of  work that students will put forth in the professional world, and we are always happy to support fellow Loggers.”

Any additional feedback for CES regarding the Career Fair, or advice to students who are considering whether or not to attend?

In truth, the scope of the businesses represented at the Fair is minimal. With a range of largely local and management/finance-related positions available, some students might make valuable contacts while others take one loop around and see that none of the companies present meet their interests.

However, if CES has one thing right, it’s that there is no substitute for an old-fashioned handshake, and where better to practice than in the comfort of Marshall Hall? Getting that networking practice may prove invaluable in your search for a post-graduate career and, at the very least, you might get a free pen out of it.

For seniors, the Career Fair provides more than career opportunities. It often acts as a swift wake-up call to the fact that soon we will be expected to be productive members of the real world.  As we stand in our formal attire and make polite conversation, it is a bit like we’re all playing dress-up in our parents’ clothes. One student commented, “It’s funny seeing people be… real people. Not drunken idiots from a Saturday night.”

If nothing else, the Fair serves as a reminder that you only have so much time in this safe haven we call college before being relegated to the ranks of nine-to-fivers—and you’d better make every second count.