Here’s a tell-tale sign that I’m definitely getting older: instead of spending my spring break in Florida or Mexico, I chose to stay home and advance my career. I attended a job fair. While some people packed swimsuits and sunblock in their spring break suitcases, I was packing blazers and sensible shoes.
The job fair I was attending was sponsored by the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which I found out through the zoo’s twitter account (another sign of maturity: I’m following more and more local businesses on Twitter than I am @ accounts). The zoo was looking for various seasonal positions to be filled, from animal workers to tram drivers. Personally, I had my eye on a position for the zoo’s summer day care program. With a scheduled 40 hours a week and an above minimum wage pay, it was one of the more popular positions looking to be filled. So, I printed off some fresh resumes and brought my game face.
The only problem was, I had never been to a job fair before. I had no idea what to expect. Luckily, I have a wonderful older brother in the human resources department who bestowed upon me some wisdom. He told me job fairs are kind of like Gannon University’s campus organization fair. Each job has their own table and representatives from the field. The applicants approach a table, learn more about the position, and go through a mini-interview by the representatives. Then, you hand them your resume and go on your merry way. Piece of cake, right?
My brother advised that you “warm-up” by visiting a table for a position that isn’t your #1 choice. That way, you get some of your jitters out and feel more prepared when you approach the table of your ideal job. He also told me to remember the names of the interviewers, and to depart from the table by saying something like, “Thank you for your time ________.” This shows your attention to detail and makes the whole experience feel more personal. Additionally, put all of your resumes and applications in a leather folder and bring your own nice pen, none of those junky ballpoint pens you steal from hotels. Employers appreciate the organization and cleanliness.
Armed with my brother’s wisdom and a pair of black dress pants, I departed for the job fair. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed. There were a lot of people crammed into the tiny zoo auditorium, and a lot of employers I was eager to impress. I began by approaching a table with a display calling for “Zoo Education Assistants.” Admittedly, I had no idea what that was. By talking to the representatives at the booth, I learned it’s a fancy term for the zoo employees that educate guests about the animals. You know, the people that stand by exhibits with kangaroo pelts and tell guests information about marsupials? This job involved being able to talk to a bunch of different age groups, something I learned from being an occupational therapy student. So, what the heck, I applied and handed in my resume.
Then I approached the day care table. I whipped out my resume, flashed a smile, and shook the interviewer’s hand. I made sure to maintain eye contact and avoid filler words like “um” or “yeah.” I even asked a few questions about the position. As I left, I thought of my brother’s advice and I said, “Thank you for your time, Chad.”
So I passed another entry test into adulthood and it wasn’t as scary as I thought. I would recommend that recent graduates or even students looking for internships check local media for job fair listings. They’re a great way to work on networking and getting your name out there in the business world. Don’t forget to breathe and smile. Good luck!