Career Fairs: Navigating the Sea
of Opportunity This Spring

There is a lot of helpful career advice out there, but one of the best things you can do for your professional future is to get to know people. Rosalie Shemmer, Senior Director of the Temple Career Center, notes that experience and internships are crucial, and that “the most common way to find a job is through networking.”

But how do you get that internship? And how can you build your connections? Career fairs (or job fairs) are an excellent way for students of any year or major to network with employers and to learn about companies or organizations. We’ve highlighted some of the upcoming career fairs in the area (including the Campus Philly Online Job and Internship Fair) and helpful advice for before you go; so be sure to spruce up your resume, put on your best business attire, and check them out!


Where to Start: Your School

One of the best places to jump start your career development is on your own campus. Career fairs are held throughout the fall and spring semesters, and are typically either industry-focused or general in setup. For example, Drexel University is hosting a Spring Career Fair on April 9 that welcomes students from all majors who are looking for co-op and full-time career opportunities (this event is open to other students in the area as well).

Drexel and other schools also host more industry-focused events, such as the upcoming communications fair or criminal justice fair at Temple. Since many campus career fairs are restricted to that school’s students, be sure to check out your own school’s career services website for upcoming fairs that you can attend.

Beyond Campus

But what if you missed your school’s spring career fair? Or what if you’re looking for a specific fair that your school doesn’t offer? There are still opportunities for you to get out and meet other employers:

  • Campus Philly Online Job and Internship Fair – Twice a year, we drive extra traffic to our 24/7 careers site that features jobs and internships in the Greater Philadelphia region for current students and recent grads. Sign up for an account today, upload your resume, and be prepared to apply to any of the hundreds of opportunities that will be available from March 23 – 27.
  • Greater Philadelphia Teacher Job Fair – If you’re an education major or you’re looking to teach after you graduate, this fair on March 18 is a great way to meet school district representatives.
  • @AnalyticsWeek’s #AnalyticsFair – While STEM majors looking for a career in data analytics or programming may need graduate experience to secure a job, it doesn’t hurt to see the opportunities available and make yourself known to industry leaders.
  • Philadelphia Nonprofit & Government Career Fair – If you’re interested in an internship, a career, or a volunteer opportunity within the government and nonprofit sectors, this fair is the place to go. Organizations representing issues from the arts to environmental concerns will be present.

 


So how do you stand out and make the best of your career fair experience? In short: do your research and make the most of your time.

“The common thread between standing out at a career fair and on a resume,” Shemmer highlights, “is that you have a brief amount of time to make a strong impression.” Since your time at the fair is limited, do your research beforehand. “All career fairs require students to conduct employer/organization research to find if their skills and experience match what a specific employer requires,” says Shemmer. You can do this by checking out the company or organization’s website and learning as much as you can about each employer and their values. Then, apply that information to your own skills or interests. This connection between you and the employer is imperative, so be able to link your interests to the company or organization. Lastly, hone the information you’ve gathered and the connection to your skills into a strong personal introduction (sometimes known as an elevator pitch). “Because your interaction with an employer or organization representative is brief,” Shemmer notes, “a great introduction is important.”

In general, Shemmer suggests that students prepare for a career fair the same way that they would for an interview. It’s important do your research, to dress in professional attire (business casual is always a minimum, but be sure to check a fair’s website to see if more professional attire is required), and to act professionally. This doesn’t mean that you have to be stiff and distant—just don’t talk to a potential employer the way that you would to a best friend over coffee. “Employers at career fairs are targeting qualified candidates for their positions,” says Shemmer, so bring your skills and your professional attitude.

While the process may seem overwhelming, being prepared and being confident are the best things that you can do to alleviate the pressure. Additionally, always be sure to utilize other services that your school’s career center offers, such as speaking to representatives about more fair preparation tips.

Best Ways to Be an Informed Voter

Pencil it into your planner, mark it on your wall calendar, set a reminder on your phone—whatever you do, don’t forget May 19. No, it’s not the last day of finals or the start of your summer vacation trip. Election Day is rolling into Philly, and that means that it’s time for your civic voice to be heard. Philadelphia’s primary elections are scheduled for May 19th, and will decide the city’s mayor, city council, and other positions.

Whether you’re currently politically engaged or not, you should care — care about this date, this duty, and its implications for the city and its inhabitants. Young people are the largest population in the city, which means that you decide who is elected and how the city’s future is shaped.

So how should you navigate this election season? Most importantly, you should strive to become an informed voter. From gathering information to interacting with the candidates themselves, here are a few ways that you can grow politically aware and cultivate your own decisions about the election and its participants.


 

Temple Has the Story
Temple University’s Center for Public Interest Journalism has joined Philadelphia Media Network and others to provide high-quality reporting on the mayoral campaign. The project, known as “The Next Mayor” project, focuses on the major issues facing the city and reports on more than just the typical political rhetoric and campaign commercials. The coverage is not only provided by various columnists and contributors such as reporters from The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News — original multimedia content is produced by Temple undergraduate and graduate students from the School of Media and Communication. The collaboration, funded by the Wyncote Foundation, offers accurate and in-depth election coverage and also features helpful data graphics and candidate information.

This is a great information hub for students, (in part) by students. It is a centralized space for updates on candidate positions and news regarding the campaign that you should check up on.

Know the Candidates
Sometimes we need to do more than click through articles to be informed. In order to decide who deserves our vote, sometime we need to see for ourselves exactly what people are saying and how they respond to questions on the spot. Luckily there are many upcoming opportunities for you to witness the candidates and even meet them.

The first of these events is Next Great City Coalition’s Philadelphia Mayoral Candidates’ Forum on March 3 from 6 – 8 p.m. The discussion will focus on the Next Great City Coalition’s 2015 policy agenda, a plan that envisions every Philly neighborhood as clean, safe, and efficient.  This discussion is a great chance to hear the candidates’ stances on the initiative and other issues. The forum is free and open to the public, but you can email monet@campusphilly.org at Campus Philly to be included in our student group for the event.

On March 30, you can get even closer to the issues at “In conversation with Philadelphia: A discussion between the mayoral candidates, the media and the city.” While the candidates will field questions from the journalists selected for the event, they’ll also be taking questions from you via Twitter. This interactive conversation will allow you to ask the candidates questions that interest you — how are you going to continue to retain the surging millennial population? How will you empower minority groups across the city? Come up with some questions and head over to this free event where you can have an active part (space is limited, so be sure to register).

Lastly, Young Involved Philadelphia, WHYY, and the Committee of Seventy will hold a City Council candidate meet and greet. All of the city council candidates will be present to meet with young voters. You’ll have the unique opportunity to talk with the candidates in person and ask them the specific questions that an article online might not cover.

Learn the Process
Being informed about candidate stances and their plans is imperative to voting smartly. But you also have to be knowledgeable about how to vote, too. First of all, you’ll need to register to vote. Young Involved Philadelphia’s Millennial Citizen’s Guide is an excellent resource for understanding the city’s political structure and voting process. Beyond your vote, you can become involved in the electoral process as a volunteer or committeeperson.

So get ready to get informed, learn about the candidates, and have your voice heard this primary season!