With internship and career fairs coming up next month, the University of Tampa’s career service department conducted an interactive workshop Wednesday to provide students with job-seeking advice.
The workshop, “Making the Most of a Career Fair,” was presented by Casey Hewins, a representative from Northwestern Mutual Finance Network – an employer that participates in the job and internship fairs at UT. The company actively seeks “independent young driven students,” Hewins said. She explained it is important to remember networking is crucial for young students seeking opportunity in the working world because “80 percent of all jobs are found through networking.”
“I love when people take my business card off the table before I even offer it to them,” Hewins stated. “Because of networking, if I meet a candidate who is not right for the position I have, but I like that person, I’ve seen their resume and they are interacting with me – chances are likely I may know of a recruiter who would be perfect and point out a position for that person.”
Hewins also explained there are many other aspects that a student must consider before walking into a career fair.
For one, she explained, it’s essential to do research beforehand on the companies participating in the event.
“It’s your chance to interview the company you’re interested in,” Hewins stated. “Go there with some sort of knowledge – step up and tell them why you are there, what you would bring to the table, and show them why you would be the best one for the position.”
Secondly, she said it is important to prepare an “elevator speech,” a brief introduction about yourself including your major, current activities and any additional strengths.
“Tie in things you’re active in and passionate about,” Hewins suggested. “Know what makes you stand out from other candidates.”
It is also important to prepare a resume and get critiques, she said.
“The University of Tampa career services is phenomenal for this,” Hewins said. “They will sit down with you and go over your resume word-for-word, making sure you sound as articulate as you want to be.”
Another crucial aspect of a job fair is “dressing to impress,” stressed Hewins.
“It’s important to remember it’s not a day at the beach, but not an award show either,” she said, “but it’s definitely better to overdress than underdress.”
And for those who feel that they are too young to pursue an internship, think again.
“I think the earlier you go to practice, the better,” stated Sheila Hood, associate director of career services. “If you start looking as a freshman or sophomore, by the time you’re a junior or senior and you are really crunching for an internships, you’ve made your mistakes already and the butterflies you get at job fairs have gone away.”
Lisa Aquilino, a sophomore who attended the workshop, recommended students interested in finding internships take advantage of workshops the UT career services has to offer.
“Every time I attend, I get more insight on how to stand out and I gain more confidence,” Aquilino said. “I feel the reason I’ve already had an internship was because of the help I received from job fair workshop I attended last year.”
Danielle Strejc can be reached at Danielle.Strejc@spartans.ut.edu