The upcoming CAHNR Career Night scheduled for Wednesday November 2nd from 5:30-7:30 PM in Wilbur Cross North and South Reading Rooms is a valuable opportunity for all students – whether you’re a freshman looking to decide on a major, a sophomore or junior seeking an internship or a graduate school program, or a senior looking for a post-graduate career – the Career Night event is a moment for all students in any part of their college experience to capitalize on. One key item for students to keep in mind as they prepare for and then attend the Career Night program includes learning how to identify and then pursue the “gap” in the recruiting process as practiced by many employers at most career fairs.
What do I mean by “gap”? At most career fairs tabling organizations indicate their preferences for would-be recruits based on academic major often leading many students to incorrectly conclude the firm’s representative is not interested in talking about other career paths. However, in some instances, those employers also have other lines of business and job functions for which they are not expressly recruiting for at the Career Night program, but in which you have a strong interest in pursuing as it aligns with your career goals, and this is where some good old-fashioned research, reconnaissance, and preparation on your part come into play to find the “gaps.” By familiarizing yourself with the employers that will be attending the Career Fair, you can then go to the website and LinkedIn page of a few of those firms that strike your interest to see if they have a line a business that might have the need for someone with your skills, abilities and interests. You can then create a short target list of firms you would like to meet, and prepare a 20 second personal introduction to use with the recruiters at Career Night, with the introduction closing with a well-thought-out question that you developed through your research about the firm and the “gap” line of business or job function that interests you.
In some cases the recruiter might respond that they aren’t recruiting for that line of business today and you should pursue opportunities directly through the firm’s website jobs board. If that scenario develops take heart as, given that you’ve been resourceful and done the necessary research on the firm, you can calmly and politely inquire with the recruiter if they might know of an appropriate individual in the line of business or job function of interest to you with whom you could communicate directly either by email or phone, and would they (the recruiter at Career Night) consider helping to facilitate making the introduction. In other instances, the recruiter might offer to take your résumé and offer to “send it along” to his/her contact in the line of business of interest to you. Should this scenario develop, seize the moment, keeping in mind that you must get the recruiter’s contact info –ideally his/her business card with email and phone on it- as you will need to have the means to follow-up with them in a few days if you do not hear back from them or the person to whom they forwarded your résumé.
Finding the gaps at a career fair can be either drudgery or fun, depending upon how you approach the opportunity search process. If you keep in mind the prize – a plumb job or internship at a top-tier firm– at the end of the journey, you’ll embark on the gap-finding effort with zest and energy; almost like a treasure hunt. Also, remember to continue your career development effort after Career Night by reflecting on your experience while making plans to visit the Center for Career Development (Wilbur Cross Room 202) or with your Career Consultant (Paul Gagnon email@example.com), to meet to explore career options and learn more about the job/internship search process.