~from intern Joyce Bohling
Recently I shared a story here on the blog—“What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?”—exploring career options for English majors. For that post, I interviewed Career Education Manager for the College of Liberal Arts, Katie Russo, who explained all that English majors bring to the professional world.
To continue my exploration into this subject, I attended the CSU Career Fair to talk to recruiters themselves and see what kinds of skills employers are looking for.
I prepared for the Career Fair in all the ways you’re supposed to—took my resume to the Career Center to polish it up, did a little research about the companies and organizations that were going to be there, and dressed in my most professional attire. Still, I felt nervous, like there was more I should be doing.
“Maybe I’ll just wake up tomorrow and be an entirely different person,” I thought Tuesday night. “That seems like it will increase my chances of being hired significantly.”
Of course, that didn’t happen. The name and major printed on the name tag I was given before I entered the Fair declared me to be, still, Joyce the English major.
Joyce, the English major
I was struck, as I entered the Grand Ballroom and took a turn around the room, by the wide variety of employers and jobs. If you wanted to work for a bank, there were banks. If you wanted to work in social services, there were organizations that assist underserved populations. If you wanted to work for a national or state park, there were national and state parks. Restaurants, manufacturers, hotels, public schools, insurance agencies… There were even religious organizations recruiting students interested in a career in ministry. It’s encouraging to think that, whatever your passions and interests, there are employers out there looking to hire you.
Admittedly, one of my greatest fears attending events like the Career Fair is that it will be viciously competitive. I had visions of recruiters glancing over my resume, looking me up and down, and sneering, “What do you think you’re doing here?”
But my anxiety turned out to be unwarranted. Many were very excited to see I had a background in writing and teaching. Some were recruiting for specific jobs and internships that I wasn’t qualified for, but when I said I was looking to get experience in communications, they said, “Oh, cool—our company hires communications people too! Here’s the person to contact.”
Some recruiters were honest that their company’s positions were very competitive, but no one was rude or told me I need not apply.
In fact, only one recruiter told me outright that I wasn’t qualified at all—for the simple reason that her company was only hiring licensed psychologists. She was very nice about it.
In the end, I was glad I overcame my fears and went to the Career Fair. No one scoffed at the idea of an English looking for work or suggested that I transform into an entirely different person; in fact, a number of recruiters seemed very pleased to talk to me and encouraged me to follow up.
What’s more, I found out about some job opportunities in the area I wouldn’t otherwise have known about, which was, after all, the point: to make a good impression, yes, but also to help think about what career options are right for me.
In other words, I was reminded that career exploration is not about becoming someone else, someone that you imagine companies will want to hire. It’s about figuring out what’s a good fit for you.