(Photo Courtesy of Sophia Boucher)
“The front steps of the Tsongas Center stand empty on the cloudy morning of Thursday, March 2. Twenty-one days later, students and employees will fill the arena with discussions about potential jobs during the Spring Career Fair.”
At the upcoming Spring Career Fair on Thursday, March 23 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Tsongas Center, students will network with recruiters to discover internships, co-ops and career positions.
Recruiters from nearly 190 companies will attend the career fair, including Bristol Myers Squibb and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Although most of the participating companies lie within the STEM and business industries, there will also be job opportunities for students who are pursuing a degree outside of these fields.
“Some of these employers are interested for every type of major because they have a gazillion types of jobs that they are trying to hire for,” says Greg Denon, Associate Dean of Career Development and Student Affairs. A technology-producing company, for example, may hire an English major to write social media posts and procedure instructions.
Upon arrival, students will head to the scene of the action: a mezzanine crowded with peers and employers’ booths. The hundreds of conversations taking place will produce a buzz of background noise while students choose which employer to speak with next. The employers, which are organized in reverse-alphabetical order following the tables of the event’s sponsors, will have banners and sample products at their tables to entice students into a conversation.
There are two ways students can prepare for the career fair. Denon says, “It starts beforehand to start to look at the list and pick up, ‘who are the ones that I might be the most interested in talking to?’ and get your own personal hit-list.” Alternatively, students can walk up to tables that intrigue them.
The list of participating companies can be found in the events section of students’ Handshake accounts. Cole Brown, a senior English major and peer advisor at the Career Services office, says that once a student has chosen which companies to talk to, they should “have some questions ready or have their resume tailored for those employers.”
In addition to a neat folder with extra copies of their resume, Brown states that students should wear business attire, such as a suit or dress. A document with more details of the proper attire can be found by searching, “network business attire,” on the university website.
Brown also says that the usual conversations with recruiters are about the student’s interests and the expected experience and responsibilities of a particular job position.
Mike Cordero, who will graduate from UMass Lowell in 2023, recalls his experience of last year’s Spring Career Fair. His conversations with the recruiters varied from table to table: some recruiters talked about the company, and others asked about the skills he would bring to their team.
Cordero says, “The one that I went up to, that I got the job from, I went up to them, and they more-or-less asked me what I was studying, what my interests were in the field and how I work.”
“Essentially, you’ll just introduce yourself,” Denon says while explaining the first step when arriving at a table. A student’s self-introduction can include their major and which internship or job position they would like to learn more about.
Denon says, “If you do get contact information and you are generally interested, it’s helpful to send an email afterwards. Just a thank you.” A student can also choose to invite the recruiter to connect via LinkedIn with a similar brief note that states where the student met the recruiter.
There are several other tailored career fairs and information sessions during this semester, such as the Criminal Justice and Security Career Fair on Monday, March 27. The Spring Career Fair is unique among these events in that it encompasses opportunities for most majors rather than focusing on a single field.
While the prospect of speaking with employers may be daunting, Brown says, “Just relax; make conversation, get to know people and network.” Students can also prepare for the fair by visiting the Career and Co-op Center for resume assistance, additional information about the Spring Career Fair and networking advice.