There are lots of great opportunities on campus to help students achieve their dream careers. Being my last year at Portland State University, I’ve made it a point to discover these resources and to use them to my advantage. My anxiety over graduation has been increasing steadily with the passing weeks, as I imagine most graduating students are feeling, but I know that utilizing some of the career resources on campus will help to calm me and prepare me for post-graduation.
Recently, I attended the Winter 2015 All Majors Career Fair. If you’ve never been to a career fair, it’s a hustle and bustle of activity. The ballroom in Smith is filled with tables manned by a variety of different companies and organizations, with students milling through and occasionally stopping and speaking with the representatives from these organizations. At the entrance to the ballroom stand students and advisors representing the Portland State University Advising & Career Services (ACS).
When I first arrived at the All Majors Career Fair, a student from ACS handed me a nametag to affix to my shirt and a brochure on the various organizations being represented at the fair. Standing at the entrance, I had no idea where to start! There were representatives from a diverse range of organizations, from Verizon to Tillamook Cheese to the FBI. I decided to just walk around and see which of the tables piqued my interest. The representatives were helpful and friendly, and would often call out to ask my name or my major. Many of the stands had free candy and pens, among other things. I felt my confidence boost speaking to different representatives about my degree, my skills, and my future.
If you missed the Winter 2015 All Majors Career Fair, don’t worry – there’s another All Majors Career Fair in May! In order to prepare for the next career fair, check out some of these tips offered by the PSU Advising & Career Services:
1. Attend ACS workshops and events. ACS hosts a variety of workshops and events, from Employer on Campus to What Can I Do with a Degree in Communication? The ACS hosts these events weekly, so be sure to check them out!
2. Complete the steps on ACS’ Guide to Career Fair Success.
3. Check out some of the employers listed on CareerConnect.
4. Plan out what you’re going to wear. It doesn’t have to be a suit, but ensure that you look professional.
5. Practice your introductions. ACS has provided a video on how to pitch yourself to a potential employer.
6. And, most importantly, follow up. ACS has also provided a video with tips on how to follow up with a potential employer.
Even if you are not essentially interested in or drawn to any of the organizations that are being represented at a career fair, it is a great opportunity to network and to practice your interview and communication skills. Don’t get hung up on the fact that your dream organization may not be represented; take every opportunity and every resource given to you! You never know where it will lead.
Being so close to graduation can be a frightening prospect. There is so much that is expected of graduating students to do, from informational interviews to prepping our resumes to even going through our Facebook profiles to delete any embarrassing photos. But taking everything one step at a time and asking for help from our advisors, families, and friends can help us to stay calm in the storm that is our final year of college. And don’t forget that PSU offers great resources for graduating students, from career counseling and workshops to helping you find an internship or job. So take advantage of all of the opportunities at your fingertips! You won’t regret it.
~Mckenzie Miller ’15, Fearless Business Student