By: Guru T. Gundappa
Time to get serious! This month’s career fairs at PSU provide a perfect opportunity, as I realized last year, to start the search for summer internships, full-time jobs and jobs at non-profits.
- The Engineering & Technology Career Fair on Feb 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Smith Union Ballroom is for those of you who are tech-savvy like me. It brings employers from engineering, computer science, and other technology-related fields to campus. I got a good overview of the healthcare industry when I met representatives from Cambia Health Solutions at the last year’s fair. Although I did not land a summer internship at Cambia, it was a good opportunity to get to learn about the healthcare industry, the players and what are the challenges that employees at Cambia face. This year, I am looking forward to meeting representatives from ecova and HP who will be participating at the fair.
- The All Major Career & Internship Fair is the following day on Feb. 13 in the Smith Union Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It plays host to representatives from more than 60 organizations, including those from private industry, government and non-profits. This was the place where I landed a summer internship last year at CBS Interactive. Speaking to the representative, I was able to find out about the culture of the company, the kind of work being done, the responsibilities and the organization structure. That 10-15 minute talk enabled me to get a good overview of the company. I found that CBS was a perfect place to leverage my technology and managerial skills and what started off as a professional conversation ended with me doing my summer internship at CBS.
And so I have my resume fine-tuned and have started to dedicate time to research the companies coming to the fair. Are you up and running for the event?
For more details see http://www.pdx.edu/advising-career-services/career-fairs
Last week, I had the experience of being on the other end of the table for several interviews. As part of my job as a resident assistant, I am required to interview people for the positions that will be open for next year.
I found it interesting to see the process through the eyes of the person conducting the interview. There were so many things that I had in my head as a personal checklist: dress, eye contact, sincerity, understanding of the job, and a drive and willingness to be there. I was thoroughly surprised with how little confidence I saw in several of the candidates. I’ve been involved with Residence Life for two years, so many of the things that I took for granted, things that I naturally expected from those I was interviewing, apparently did not seem to be so obvious to the candidates. I guess it goes to show you what experience can do to change your attitude, view, and expectations.
Overall, what I took away from this process is that presentation is everything. That doesn’t mean you have to be obnoxious and speak over others at every given point, or digress onto points that are unnecessary. Rather, be clear and concise with your ideas and don’t be afraid to speak up when prompted. Also, there’s a lot to be said with the phrase “dress for success”: your clothes reflect that you’re collected, professional, and ready for business. Even if you aren’t the most confident person in the world, just fake it ‘til you make it.
As the Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute VIP reception wound down, I found myself wandering around the Smith student union Browsing Lounge looking for a misplaced coat. Most of the guests were upstairs in the ballroom for the main event. I was tired and my navy blue blazer was a little too warm. As I poked around under chairs and tables, employees from Aramark, our campus catering service, were busy clearing plates, napkins and wine glasses. A young man pushed a cart towering with dirty dishes and napkins past me. “You guys are awesome!” I blurted suddenly. He looked up and smiled. “Always cleaning up after everyone so they can enjoy themselves,” I continued.
“Well, this is just my second time doing this,” he replied. “I worked in the restaurant business before this…this is just a temporary thing. The restaurant I was working for closed down just before Christmas. I’m used to being more in the public eye and not so much behind the scenes. But it’s kind of nice, actually.”
“Yeah,” I replied. “I’ve had a quite a few jobs where I was more of a ‘behind the scenes’ person. It’s really different from what I’m doing now as a Student Ambassador.”
We chatted for another couple of minutes. The missing coat was located and I headed upstairs. I thought about the conversation I’d had and why I had felt moved to say something in the first place. I remembered when I’d had less glamorous jobs. I’ve been a gas station attendant on the graveyard shift, worked on the receiving dock of a major department store in the wee hours of the morning, and been a theater usher, among others. I recall how I was often treated, which was rudely and with a certain amount of distain. This made me angry. I wanted to yell, “You don’t know anything about me! I’m an educated person! This isn’t what I wanted to be as a child! I have bills to pay just like you!” Of course, I never said those things. I just smiled sweetly and continued doing my grunt work.
Just because I now wear a blazer to work and have a fancy title doesn’t make me any better or more important than the people who clean up after me. I’ve made a promise to myself to always remember that.