Melissa Jean

The BIG Job Fair, not only named for it’s size, but also because it’s the Business, Industry, & Government Job Fair and it is coming up quick!   On Thursday, February 24th, clear your calendars and make your way to the Sioux Falls Convention Center from 10 am until 4 pm. This job fair is a statewide effort to provide college students, like ourselves, with an opportunity to land an internship or full-time position at one of over 100 companies attending.  Most postsecondary schools in South Dakota are involved in this event and they have invited companies with a variety of job opportunities, including graduate schools, in most fields except Education.   After meeting with Dr. Marie Lohsandt, Director of Career Services, she indicated that there will be opportunities available for most majors, but obviously the broader a student’s major is, the more options that student will have.   Intimidating?  Perhaps a little.

However, that should not discourage you from attending this job fair. In fact, there are two information sessions scheduled to provide you with the information you will need, but most importantly to give you more confidence and encouragement.  There will be one held on Tuesday, February 15 at 4 pm and another on Wednesday at noon.  Both are to be held in the Trojan Center Underground. During these sessions, students learn that attending the BIG Job Fair takes more than just walking in and putting your resume down on the table. You should be able to walk up to a potential employer, shake their hand with confidence, and discuss your ambition and abilities with them. These information sessions will help you to make that process easier and less intimidating because examples and demonstrations will be provided.  “Prepared and polished” are the two words Dr. Lohsandt uses when talking about sending DSU students to the BIG Job Fair. She wants us to be able to walk into that job fair with confidence and less nervousness. Knowing what to say, what to bring, and how to present ourselves to potential employers is key and that is exactly what you will take away from the information sessions. What other advantages can you look forward to? Dakota State University students are given extra little advantages if they register in advance through the DSU Career Services Office. For example, a professional looking name tag that will get you directly into the event quickly without having to wait in line.  You will also receive access to a listing of all of the companies attending the event, recruiter contact information, positions available, company descriptions, web sites, and more.

Speaking of the employer list, Dr. Lohsandt suggested that when you look through the book, mark every company that interests you – even in the slightest.  Why?  Because even if a company doesn’t have a specific position listed that relates to your major, chances are they will have those positions within their company at some point, so it doesn’t mean that a position couldn’t become available or can’t be developed based on introductions at the job fair.   Oftentimes companies don’t list every single internship or full-time job they have open and many times it is difficult for companies to predict what jobs will be available in a month or two.   That is why it is essential that you introduce yourself to the company recruiter, present them with a copy of your resume, and explain your major and the type of position that interests you. After that point, usually the recruiter will guide the conversation but make sure that you leave with the employer knowing that you are not just looking for a job offer that particular day but that you will be interested if something opens up in the next few months or beyond.    It is also important to leave the employer with a positive impression and a clear understanding of how they want you to follow-up with them.   A follow-up thank you letter or email should be provided to all employers you meet with that day.

If a job is created as a result of your conversation with the employer or if one opens up in the upcoming months, you will be glad that you went to the fair and handed them your resume and contact information!  Also, companies communicate with each other so don’t underestimate the importance of making a good impression and communicating your career goals. If a particular company doesn’t have a current opening that matches your major and interests, they may know someone else who does and, therefore, will hand off your resume to them for review.

There is a minimal charge for the event, ($5) but only if you register in advance.   It costs more to register at the job fair and you won’t have any of the prior advantages of company information, recruiter information, the floor map, attendance tips, workshops or professional looking name badge.

If Career Services can help out this much for one job fair, imagine how they can help you year round! As for myself, I’m wishing that I had contacted the Career Services office sooner than my 4th year.  With the variety of workshops, job fairs, mock interviews, employer information sessions, on-campus interviews,  one-on-one career advising and other assistance they offer, you can definitely become “prepared and polished.” So take a minute to walk over to Heston Hall, up to second floor of Career Services and chat with one of the staff to see how they can help you acquire the skills you need to be a competitive job seeker.