So I think I’m just going to go ahead and enter the “So You Want to be the Next Food Network Star” competition. I’m just going to need someone to film my audition tape.
The Cornell Career Services Office offers so many fabulous resources for summer internships and full time jobs; TONS of companies come to campus and recruit every season, doing company presentations, resume drops, interviews, and eventually selecting Cornellians for jobs (companies looove us). The biggest beast of all, though, is the career fair. It’s like a college fair but… in suits. And sort of terrifying. There is a campus-wide career fair for general interest sorts of things (retail and banks and whatever), and most of the individual colleges hold their own career fairs every semester with companies who are more related to that particular field of study.
So, anyway, the Hotel School Career Fair took place on Wednesday. There were 50ish of the best hospitality companies in the world and I’ll be the first to say that it was a new breed of intimidating.
The night before, everyone stays up late trying to perfect their resume, struggling to remember all the changes the Career Services people told us to make that we swore we would go straight home and fix. We print our resumes off on fancy linen paper, pack it into one of those leather portfolio things, and grab a handful of our own business cards (mine say “School of Hotel Administration Director of Tours” on them this year… yes yes, kind of a big deal).
So then the actual fair. You walk into a giant room full of people in suits smiling and shaking hands and oh my goodness where do you even start? You see a company that looks really cool based on the decorations on their booth– oh oh look they’re even giving out mini Snickers bars– but you don’t want to be that girl who walks right up to the recruiter and asks them to explain their company to you while you eye the free stuff on the table. We’ve had the descriptions of these companies for weeks now, you can’t march up to a booth and be like, “so, uh, who are you and why should I work for you? Cause like, I’m really great, and oh, what a coincidence! You’re giving out hilighters! I LOVE hilighters!”
Anyway. While it’s a TON of pressure to walk up to recruiters and figure out what to say and the right questions to ask, it’s also a ton of pressure to do the waiting game: your peers at the career fair are trying to do the same thing you are. Most of the time, you’re going to have to awkwardly hover beside a booth until the recruiter you want to speak to is done speaking with someone else. Often times, there are a couple other hoverers along with you, eyeing the hilighters and Snickers bars and trying to figure out a non-loser way to swipe one of each, and now the recruiter has become available and it’s the “who’s next?” situation. Now, at some Career Fairs, it would behoove you to just jump in and be assertive and say you’re next no matter what. But at the Hotel School? “After you!” “no, after you! I insist!”
SUCH an awkward situation.
So, some of us love career fairs and simply do fabulous with small talk and the art of the “here, let me give you my resume” thing, but most of the fall semester career fairs are focused on hiring for full-time post-graduation jobs. As a junior having been to four of these things in years prior, I only cared about internships and knew that most of these companies were going to say “we’ll be back in the Spring to recruit interns! Have a fabulous day!” I felt that this semester it was perfectly acceptable to walk into the ballroom, go straight to the company I really wanted to work for, drop my resume and business card, and peace out.
Some of us walk out of career fairs with interview slots, wondering what shoes we’re going to wear on our first day of work with these companies. This year, I walked out of there with a new goal: to be the Next Food Network Star simply so I will never have to go to another career fair again.