One of the greatest things about Florida Tech has been all the opportunities that are within my reach as an undergraduate student. There are no restrictions on what you can strive to accomplish, and that is one of my favorite aspects of Florida Tech (apart from buffalo chicken wraps, of course).
A huge opportunity comes to Florida Tech each semester the Career Management Services Career Fair! Florida Tech brings in 45-60 employers to the Clemente Center in order to give students and alumni a chance to network and show off their skills. All of this is done in hopes of finding students internships, co-ops, or full time jobs. It is also a good opportunity for students to learn how to dress, act, and communicate in a professional situation.
This year, I decided to try my luck with the fall career fair. I figured I would have a bit of an advantage since I work for the Robotics and Spatial Systems Lab at Florida Tech and I could mention a few of the things I’ve been working on there. By the time I was done printing out copies of my resume the night before,I was already nervous! I spent about half an hour figuring out what to wear, how to do my hair…you know, the usual. After choosing what seemed the most “business appropriate” outfit, I headed off for a good night’s rest.
That morning, I did some homework as I impatiently waited for the career fair to start. Once I got to the Clemente Center, I grabbed a name tag and began to write down all my information. I was so nervous that I briefly forgot what my major was! After a quick mental restart, I headed into the gym. I was a bit overwhelmed at first. There were about 65 tables with different employers, students everywhere and so much talking going on. After walking around once to get a slight feel of where everyone was, I looked at the map that had a description of each company and what type of majors they were looking for, I decided to hit up just about everyone who was looking for mechanical engineering majors.
In order to warm up, I decided to start by going to the NASA table and talk to them I know it seems that NASA isn’t much of a ‘warm-up’ for networking, but to me, it was the one that I was most familiar with. It was a pretty good decision because right after talking to the guy at that table, I instantly felt a lot more relaxed and in control of what I was doing. A few tables later, I got the hang of how the whole operation played out: walk up to a representative, give them a warm smile while extending a hand to shake. Introduce yourself and your major and tell them what you are looking for and ask them what they have to offer. Most people were really nice, informative and attentive to what I had to say. In my opinion, the worst part would have to be when their only response is “Oh, apply online… everything is online…go online” and then you awkwardly walk away. But I just guess that’s what technology has brought us to.
I got it right the second time…
At the end of the career fair, I came out quite successful! I managed to get a one-on-one interview for Timco and Aerosystems to talk about a possible co-op in North Carolina! Also, the representative from Harris said I was really qualified for a position as an intern of their robotics division! I also felt more ready for future interviews.
Hopefully things will work out with either Timco or Harris, but even if they don’t, I can certainly say that this has been an awesome learning experience for me. I took a lot away from the career fair. For anyone that is attending or has attended Florida Tech, I strongly recommend going to at least one career fair. Even if there are not that many employers for your major, it is definitely worth it.