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From Impossibility to Internship: Making the Most of the Career Fair

Hundreds of employers gathered together in one place to connect students to job prospects. This is what happens at a career fair, a recruitment opportunity exclusive to college students. The career fair for the engineering department will be held Feb. 4.

“It's a great opportunity to make connections...I've never had any results from it but it's a good resource to at least really see potential jobs,” said Josh Seibert, a Junior studying Mechanical Engineering. “That was one thing about when I first started engineering; I didn't know anything about what jobs there were. Seeing all these companies helped spark my knowledge and now I know more what tech electives I want to take so I can get a better job.”

Thursday’s event will be the third career fair that Seibert has attended. He noted that the first time he was far less prepared, but it was still beneficial because he was able to get his feet wet.

In past years, over 200 employers have attended the on-campus fairs. The event is free for students and due to the pandemic, the fair is entirely virtual this year.

“Behind the scenes, putting on a career fair requires a tremendous amount of work,” said Engineering and Technology Career Director Monte Marshall. “Switching to a virtual fair has been a huge adjustment, but we have been determined to make it a positive experience for both students and employers.”

The first virtual fair took place in Sept. 2020, and Junior Reese Clawson shared that although it was different, there were some perks unique to the online venue.

“Because it was all online, it felt easier to go to each individual company as they were primarily open chats,” Clawson said. “The best part for me was being able to talk to a representative throughout the whole day since it was through chat, which helped me give more thought out answers and questions.”

Attending the career fair led graduate Madelyn Stoul to her current biomedical engineering trajectory. Stoul attended career fairs during 3 of the five years she was at BYU, going to booths between classes and bringing resumes on cardstock to make a good impression. Stoul graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2019.

“I loved the goals of the biomedical engineering companies that I met at the career fair. There was one company that worked on replacing heart valves for people and when I found out there were companies that did things like that I realized I wanted to do that,” Stoul shared. “Learning what kind of companies are out there and what kind of things they do and what jobs they have was definitely a benefit.”

If getting an internship and making an impression at the career fair is the goal, Marshall advises having an updated Handshake profile, researching the companies beforehand, setting up appointments early, dressing professionally, finding a quiet spot and a neutral background and being sure to follow up. But whether attending with an internship in mind or just to see what it’s like, the career fair is worth the time.

“Even though I didn’t get any internships I did plenty of mock interviews; it's really good socializing practice to talk to the recruiters because you get a feel of what they're looking for,” Stoul said. “If nothing else it’s great to go around and get experience.”

Join the engineering department virtual career fair via Handshake Feb. 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and check out BYU Career Services for more information about upcoming events.