On Tuesday, the MU College of Engineering hosted its Fall Career Fair where students had the opportunity to talk with more than 170 companies in hopes of networking or even landing a full-time job.
Booths lined Mizzou Arena, which was packed full of students eager to talk with representatives from their favorite companies.
Junior Biomedical Engineering major Taylor Sass came to the fair focused on getting a summer internship. Sass entered the doors professionally dressed and with her résumé ready in hand. After checking in and getting her name tag, she headed to talk with Boehringer Ingelheim. As she waited to speak with a representative, Sass looked over her notes about the company and her questions about their work with pharmaceuticals. Though she looked calm, Sass admitted she had some nerves.
“I think that a lot of the times there’s the stereotype that engineers are not good at talking with people, and if I get nervous that every time I mess up, I’m going to be pegged as that stereotype,” Sass said. “I think that my nerves got to me a little bit. I would encourage people to really understand the company they’re talking to. Obviously, you might not get the same idea from the internet as in person, but really knowing what their goals are is very helpful.”
Sass talked with four companies: Boehringer Ingelheim, bioMerieux Inc., Patheon and Pfizer, Inc. Every representative asked Sass for her résumé and what she knew about the company. Having prepared questions helped Sass feel more confident and allowed her to show her interest in working for them.
“Writing down questions specific to each company you want to go talk to is important. One, it makes them understand that you’re interested, and then that you’re actually actively listening,” Sass said. “I want to know what they’re actually doing. I want something I can get behind.”
The Career Fair gave her the opportunity to market herself to potential employers and gain important insight into the atmosphere of each company. Sass learned about upcoming internships and cooperative education programs (co-op) that she could apply for in the summer and the upcoming year.
“Going and talking to people who work at the company and interacting with them and hearing what they have to offer is probably my favorite part,” Sass said. “Now I can go, and I can make a plan about what I want to do. I can think back and think about what I value and what I’m looking for in a company and compare that to what I’ve heard today.”
Sass wished she had gone to a career fair her freshman year and advised that others attend the fair as early as possible during their time at Mizzou. Even going without the intention of getting an internship or co-op can be helpful for the future when students are looking to make that next step in their careers.
“Just going up and talking to a company that you might be interested in can help just seeing how to interact with recruiters. You don’t want to get flustered with a company you’re really excited for because that’s already kinda scary,” Sass said.
Sass came in not knowing exactly what to expect, but she left feeling positive in her interactions and the opportunities for future employment.
“I think just having an open career fair area where you can come and talk and be yourself instead of having to reach out yourself and find a company and interview alone makes it a lot easier,” Sass said. “I think I found definitely what I came to look for, which I don’t think I even knew walking in.”