For freshmen, there are few topics as polarizing as opinions on the career fair. Some students are eager for the chance to talk to recruiters and try to secure a summer position; others say it’s a waste of time, and no companies are willing to hire freshman interns. From upperclassmen, we hear the same divided perspectives, leaving many of us young, doe-eyed freshmen utterly confused, and wondering whether or not attending the career fair is worth it.
In my experience, the answer is a resounding yes! After attending both the fall and spring Viterbi Career Fairs (yes, Viterbi puts on their own career fairs specifically for engineering students!), I can attest that both were highly worthwhile experiences. However, that’s not to say they weren’t stressful. Spending several hours in business attire, waiting in the hot sun to talk to business representatives is by no means an easy thing to do, especially as a freshman, when you barely even have a resume. But recruiters know this. They’re people too, and can remember the days when they themselves were standing in your position, in your fancy dress shoes. And by taking the initiative to set aside time and put forth the effort to talk to them, you’ve already earned their respect.
I didn’t get an internship as a freshman. However, I’m still very happy with my decision to attend the Viterbi career fairs, which I believe significantly improved my ability in speaking to recruiters and handling myself in a professional setting. I was called back for interviews both semesters, and though I ultimately didn’t receive the positions, the experience I received was priceless, and will definitely come in handy in the future.
After all, there’s always next year. If you make sure to leave a lasting impression, the recruiters will remember you, and admire your persistence. Next time, you’ll be even more prepared, and you’ll be glad you attended the career fairs your freshman year.