My Experience Of Attending A Career Fair As An Employer

Yesterday I got to represent Cappex at a career fair that was being held at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. I had only attended a career fair once before (as a college student) and being that this was my first time going as an employer, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. All I knew was that 1) I was there in search of interns who might be a good fit for my team and 2) I was going to be talking to A LOT of students.

Overall, I’d say that the experience was worth my time and energy. I met a number of students I want to get in touch with and finding just one intern who’s a good fit for the team would make me really happy.

Here are some things that stood out to me while I was at the career fair:

  • Poor communication skills: The vast majority of the students who I spoke with had pretty poor communication skills. A large portion of the students were nowhere near fluent in English (as far as I could tell) and even those who were just simply could not communicate very well. I’m sorry but I probably won’t even look at your resume if you can’t carry on a conversation with me.
  • Lack of career focus: The first question I asked when students came up to me was something along the lines of “Tell me what kind of work you want to do”. Well, many of the students I spoke with just could not give me a straight answer. They might as well have told me “I’m sorry, I don’t know”. A lot of them responded by saying “an internship” or “a full-time job” or “anything that fits my major”. I liked the students who were able to articulate their career focus–even if their focus didn’t align with mine.
  • Zero knowledge about Cappex: While I understand that Cappex is a tiny company (especially compared to the other giants that were represented at the Career Fair such as Microsoft, Shure, Garmin, Goldman Sachs, etc.), the vast majority of the students had absolutely no knowledge about what Cappex does. There is no excuse for this since students were provided with a list of companies + majors well before the career fair. If they had spent just 2 minutes on cappex.com it would’ve made them much more appealing to me.

So, having said all this, here is what my ideal candidate would’ve looked like:

  • Can communicate well.
  • Can articulate their career focus. And their focus aligns with what I’m looking for.
  • Knows what Cappex does.
  • Has a good resume. Has done software-related work outside of just schoolwork.

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