Whether your student is a first-semester freshman yet to declare a major or a senior refining a job search, the Boston College Career Center’s Fall Career and Internship Fair in Conte Forum on September 13 is an event not to miss. The biggest and most comprehensive of 17 Career Center professional development events on this year’s academic calendar, the fair drew more than 1,700 undergraduates to Conte Forum last year—with good reason.
Some 170 employer representatives from across the country and abroad, in fields from banking to international education; restaurant-loyalty software to advertising startups, typically attend the fair. Their presence gives students a chance to talk shop one-on-one with potential employers, and learn about opportunities. The recruiters (many of whom are alumni) also bring along firsthand information about job openings (mostly for seniors) and internships (primarily for sophomores and juniors). But there is information aplenty for students just beginning to explore their options regardless of class year.
“There’s an excitement to [early] exploration,” says Lou Gaglini, associate director of employer engagement. Talking with a number of employers may help a student considering a dozen or more career paths narrow his or her search. Or it may pique interests in career fields a student hadn’t even thought of before.
Career Center staff will be on hand September 13 to guide any student who might feel overwhelmed by the size and scope of the Conte Forum event, says Gaglini. They can help students rehearse elevator pitches, and make introductions to employers. Staff will even be conducting group tours of the Career Fair so students get an understanding of how they work, effective ways to approach an employer, and guidance on how to use the fair as a means of career exploration in addition to looking for a job.
Other Career Fair features include a “Career Corner” to help students learn about services and upcoming events, and a free photo booth, run by the University’s Media Technology Services, where students can have professional-grade LinkedIn portraits taken.
Following the fair, which runs from noon to 4:00 p.m., approximately 100 employer representatives will move to the Heights Room in Corcoran Commons for the Diversity and Student Leadership Reception. For two hours, some 200 AHANA (African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American) students, leaders of student organizations, and student-athletes mix, mingle, and chat with employers, learning about their diversity initiatives in a less crowded, more relaxed setting.
Career Center staff encourage students to visit the Career Center at Southwell Hall on Commonwealth Ave. before the fair, when the center will expand its normal drop-in hours and number of available appointments. Students should also come back often to take advantage of the center’s rich array of resources and services, which range from résumé critiques and practice interviews to tests designed to help determine skills, interests, and values.
A Career Fair app is available for students to download on a mobile device. Search "Careers by Symplicity," download the app, then search for the Boston College link to access tips and tools from your iPhone or Android to prepare for a successful day.
Five things your student should keep in mind before going to the Career Fair on September 13:
1. Research organizations you’re interested in ahead of time. (Company profiles will be available through EagleLink.)
2. Though some employers will not accept them, résumés—tucked into a portfolio—are great to have on hand.
3. When you’ve finished speaking with someone, ask for a business card, and be sure to write notes from the conversation. Reference those notes in your thank-you e-mail.
4. If you’re interested in specific employers, bring along a cheat sheet with specific questions ready so you can make the most of your time with each employer.
5. Rehearse your elevator pitch—the crucial, 30-second greeting in which you introduce yourself, your skills, accomplishments, and “one thing that makes you unique.”
The Career and Internship Fair is one of 17 professional development events that take place during the academic year. The Career Center will host fairs for the fields of accounting (September 9); science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (October 19); nursing (January 27, 2017); government, nonprofit, and social services (February 23); and education (March 29).
By Zachary Jason