I attended a career fair in Marietta yesterday, which made me think about the first one I attended last semester. What I remember most was the contrast between the bus ride to and from the event. I’d bought a book with me that I was going to read for a paper I was writing. I don’t think I read a single page of it. I don’t think many of us did anything very productive on the way there. Conversely, everyone was completely relaxed on the way back.

We talked about what we had done right and wrong at the fair, upcoming assignments in the classes we shared, and pretty much anything under the sun. It was at this point that I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had been nervous about the fair. All 10 of us had been worried, and now it was over.

I definitely learned from the experience. One time, I forgot my questions for the recruiter after I got in front of them. I had all of the questions on my cell, but I felt it rude pulling out my phone in the middle of a conversation in order to consult it. This time around, I had an official Young Harris College notepad with a page for each company I was really interested in that had at least five questions to ask the recruiter. In the ones I did do well on in the fall, my questions sprung conversations with the recruiters. Good rapport with the recruiter is the key of going to these events.

These types of fairs are important because now you know someone on the inside, and this can give you an advantage over the person who just applied online that no one at the company knows. For example, I had a really good interaction with a recruiter from a real estate company. When I sent follow-up emails, she replied to me.

I never would have considered a career in real estate but my conversation with the recruiter made me think I could do it. They even have a course that trains you. If I hadn’t gone, I would never have even considered that opportunity. That’s another great advantage of going to fairs like this—you get exposed to a variety of careers and new doors can open for you.