As undergrads knee-deep in algorithms and operating systems, the thought of navigating a career fair is enough to induce a panic attack. We're fluent in Java but can barely string a coherent sentence together when confronted with the horror of actual human interaction. Our wardrobes consist entirely of free t-shirts and hoodies, and we consider a shower optional if we're not leaving the house.
Yet for some reason, the powers that have decided that in addition to mastering dynamic programming and solving the travelling salesman problem, we also need to acquire "soft skills." And so, they inflict upon us the torture known as "networking."
But fear not, fellow coders, we've compiled this ultimate checklist to help you survive the gauntlet with your anxiety and dignity mostly intact. Follow our tips and even you can emerge with a job offer, new internship, or at least a pocket full of corporate swag. Now take a deep breath and dive in - your Silicon Valley dreams await!
As computer science students attending a career fair, we know the key to success is preparation. We’ve got to do our homework if we want to impress our dream companies.
Obtaining the attendee list ahead of time lets us dive into learning everything we can about the companies we’re interested in. We check their websites, social media, recent news mentions—anything to understand what they do, their culture, and what kinds of roles they typically hire for.
That way, when we get face time with a recruiter, we can speak knowledgeably about why we’re excited about them and how we’d be a great fit.
29 August 2023
30 August 2023
When it comes to career fairs, you’ve got about 10 seconds to grab a recruiter’s attention before they move on to the next person. How do we make the most of it? Update that resume, of course!
Your resume bullets and experiences need to showcase the work you did. Begin your bullets with strong action verbs that inform the recruiter of the actions YOU performed.
As computer science students, our resumes should highlight our technical skills. Use action verbs like “designed,” “developed,” “debugged,” and “deployed” to showcase your abilities.
This refers to the quantification of outcomes or impact in your resume. These are outlined by a quantifiable outcome or size and scope of work. Examples include revenue, cost, size of your team, or number of departments you supported.
For example, instead of “Built a mobile app”, try “Built a mobile app used by 30,000 users in a team of 2 from scratch”
Avoided Words include passive language, personal pronouns, filler words, and others consuming valuable space on your resume without much impact.
Top filler words used by students that should be avoided whenever possible includes: “The”, “That”, “Which”, “Their”, “Successfully”, “My”, “Actively”.
Don’t just list class names. Discuss projects you completed, especially if they relate to the jobs you're interested in. For example, “Built a neural network to detect credit card fraud in Machine Learning.” Recruiters will see your potential.
Include links to your GitHub, Stack Overflow, and LinkedIn profiles so recruiters can review your work. We made sure our social media accounts are professional, regularly updated, and set to public. First impressions matter!
You can refer to these tips to avoid red flags on your resumes!
Alright fellow computer science undergrads, listen up. The career fair is upon us and it’s time to perfect our elevator pitches.
For the uninitiated, an “elevator pitch” is your 30-second speech to grab the attention of recruiters and sell your skills before the elevator doors open.
Open with something compelling to grab interest, such as an interesting project or skill. For example, “As an iOS developer, I’ve built three apps currently used by thousands of users.”
Then briefly mention your degree, skills, and career goals. For example, “I’m pursuing a BS in Computer Science, with a focus on software engineering. My goal is to build innovative solutions as part of a fast-paced team.”
Highlight your proudest accomplishments, not just responsibilities. Did you develop an innovative new algorithm? Worked on a popular app? Focus on quantifiable impacts and results.
For example, “I designed an application used by over 10,000 students to improve studying efficiency.”
Do your research and customize for each organization. Mention shared values or products you find interesting.
For example, “I’m really passionate about machine learning and was excited to see you’re doing work in that area.”
Showing you’ve done your homework proves your enthusiasm and interest.
End your pitch by expressing your interest in the company and a desire for an interview. For example, “I’m really impressed with what your company is doing in the AI field. I'd love the opportunity to further discuss how I might contribute as a software developer.” Deliver this ending with confidence and a smile.
Remember, career fairs are two-way streets. Come equipped with thoughtful questions that show your enthusiasm and desire to determine if the company is the right fit for your talents. With preparation and practice, you’ll ace your elevator pitch and be well on your way to landing top internships or jobs. Break a leg, comp sci comrades!
Time to pick out the perfect outfit to impress those recruiters! As computer science students, we’re used to hoodies, sweatpants and slippers, but for a career fair, it’s important to look professional yet approachable.
While you don’t need full business attire, avoid looking like you just rolled out of bed. Slacks, khakis, or a knee-length skirt paired with a button-down shirt or blouse strike the right balance.
You can’t be overdressed for a career fair, but you can certainly be underdressed! Best if you stick with Smart Casual (or Business Casual)
So, you've got your resume polished and your best "hire me!" smile practised. You're ready to rock that career fair, right? Not so fast. To make the most of schmoozing with your future coworkers, you've got to go in armed with the right questions.
We know, we know, talking to strangers is the worst. But think of it this way: every awkward conversation is a chance to show off how clever and curious you are. Impress those recruiters with these probing yet casual Qs:
With the right questions and a few charming anecdotes of your own, you'll be well on your way to finding a company where you fit right in.
Or at the very least, you'll get a free pen and maybe a few pity stickers. Either way, worth it! Now go get 'em, you clever thing, you.
After the hoopla of the career fair is over, the real work begins. We’ve shaken hands, made eye contact, and left good impressions, but now we have to seal the deal. Here are the essential next steps to make the most of our face time with recruiters:
Send a quick email to each recruiter you connected with thanking them for their time. Mention something specific you discussed so they remember you, like that killer algorithm you built or your passion for UI design.
Ask if they need any additional information from you regarding internship or job opportunities.
Strike while the iron and your memory are hot!
Go through the stack of business cards you collected and write a few words on the back of each to jog your memory about your conversation with that recruiter. Did they seem really interested in you? Did they mention any specific roles you’d be a good fit for? The details matter.
Don’t just wait to hear back from recruiters. Take the initiative and apply to any open jobs or internships at companies you are connected with that seem like a great match for your skills and interests. Mention in your email that you met them at the career fair. Your proactiveness and enthusiasm will make you stand out.
Also checkout NodeFlair Jobs for more tech job openings aggregated from the different job portals.
After a career fair, think of interview preparation as the superhero training montage for your job-hunting journey.
Just like Rocky needs to chase chickens and climb snowy mountains before the big fight, you too must hone your skills for the ultimate showdown with HR.
Plus, with a dash of preparation, you'll be the superhero who doesn't just save the day but also secures that dream job, all while avoiding those awkward "um"s and "uh"s that can make you sound more like a confused parrot than a professional.
We also compile some interview guides based on past interview questions and processes!
If you haven’t heard from recruiters you were most interested in after following up the first time, don’t be afraid to reach out again. Re-express your strong interest in opportunities with their organization and your desire for a chance to interview. Ask if there are any other materials you can provide to strengthen your application. Persistence and passion pay off!
With a little hustle and the right attitude, that career fair connection could turn into the job or internship of your dreams. But you have to do more than just show up—you have to follow through. Now get to work, you’ve got emails to send and jobs to land!
So there you have it, the ultimate cheat sheet for dominating your next computer science career fair. Polish up that resume, practise your spiel, do some company research and dress to impress. With this battle plan in place, that dream internship or job offer is as good as yours.
Just remember, once you've locked it down, don't forget about us little people. When you're raking in that big Silicon Valley paycheck, send some of that cheddar our way. We've got student loans to pay off too, you know! But in all seriousness, go get 'em kids.
Now get out there, network like pros and land that gig. The future is yours for the taking. No pressure!