By Andrew N. | September 26, 2013
Ever seen Fight Club? Of course you have, everyone has. And if you haven’t, I expect you to lie and say you have, followed by immediately watching it. Last week, I attended the Engineering Career Expo. An untrained eye may not see a connection between these two things, but I’m here to help you change that. You see, there are a set of rules for fight club, and I believe there are a corresponding set of rules of a career fair.
For comparison, I will put the fight club rule in italics, and my rule in bold:
The first rule of fight club is you do not talk about fight club, The first rule of the career fair is you do not talk to everybody: There seems to be this misunderstanding that you can actually talk to all the companies there. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There will be hundreds of companies there, you can talk to maaaybe 15. Plan ahead, pick the ones you want to speak with, and prioritize before arriving.
The second rule of fight club is you DO NOT talk about fight club, The second rule of the career fair is you DO NOT talk to everybody: I feel like this point cannot be emphasized enough.
The third rule of fight club, if someone says “stop” or goes limp, taps out the fight is over, The third rule of the career fair, if someone says “apply online”, the talk is over: The fact is a lot of companies are there with the sole purpose to promote their company and provide information. You cannot do a single thing to improve your chances of getting a job by talking to them. If they tell you they aren’t taking resumes and to apply online, accept that there is nothing more you can do there and move on to the next table where your time is better served.
Forth rule, only two guys to a fight, Forth rule, print two resumes per table you plan to talk to: It is better to have too many resumes than not enough. Some tables will ask for two copies of a resume, and you may stop at a few tables on a whim. The rule of thumb is bring two resumes per company you plan to talk to.
Fifth rule, one fight at a time, Fifth rule, one person to a group: This rule is kind of a stretch, but what I’m trying to say is fly solo during the career fair. You and your friends may not want to speak to the same companies, and time is a precious commodity that shouldn’t be wasted. Also, companies want to be the focus of your attention which can’t happen if you are distracted by your friends.
Sixth rule, no shirts, no shoes, Sixth rule, iron your shirt, shine your shoes: There are always those students that show up to a career fair in a t-shirt and jeans. Don’t be that person. Wear business clothes, a suit if you have one. If you don’t, at least a button up, dress slacks or a nice skirt, and proper dress shoes. If you don’t have any of that, go to the store and buy some, it’s a worthy investment.
Seventh rule, fights will go on as long as they have to, Seventh rule, stay as long as you have to: The career fair only happens a couple times a year, plan on spending at least a few hours there. Sometimes the line will be long, but if you are seriously interested in that company, try and stick it out. I received an interview after waiting for an hour and 15 minutes to speak with Pratt and Whitney, and I don’t regret it at all.
And the eighth and final rule, if this is your first night at fight club, you have to fight, And the eighth and final rule, if this is your first career fair, you are going to be awkward: This is something that may be hard to swallow, but presenting yourself at a career fair is difficult and a learned skill. Your first time, particularly if you are a freshman, is going to be weird. That being said, you should absolutely go as soon as you can. The earlier you can get that awkward one out of the way, the sooner you can start having success.