By Stephen Wilson

Students interested in searching for internships and applying for positions took advantage of a highly interactive virtual platform at the Gateway Career Center’s annual fall career fair.

The space included a student lounge where Gateway career counselors and student ambassadors were on hand to assist participants with any questions and provide any needed confidence boosts. There was also a tech center where participants could receive support with any virtual glitch. 

But the bulk of time was spent in two spaces: First, the exhibit hall where employers had booths that came to life through real-time chatting, one-on-one interview rooms, and information on opportunities, and, second, the auditorium where keynote speaker Vanessa Youngs ’07, assistant vice president at Moody’s, shared her unique career path.

Vanessa Youngs ’07, assistant vice president at Moody’s, spoke at the career fair

Vanessa Youngs ’07

Nearly 400 students listened as Youngs focused on four tips that she gleaned from her life and experience while earning her Master of Science in urban policy at The New School, as well as working as a senior revenue analyst in the New York City mayor’s office of management and budget and as a national economic council intern at the White House.

Those four tips seem relevant to college job seekers as well as mature leaders out in the fields:

  1. Do what you love
  2. Take risks
  3. Tap into your networks
  4. Be ready and stay sharp

Stepping back into the entrance hall, students could head over into the exhibit hall or click on one of the sponsors’ banners and directly enter the booths for BioSig Technologies, Victaulic, and Air Products.

Here are some experiences from a few of the nearly 500 students registered for the event and 40 employer hosts, including 48 alumni representatives.

 

Will Macy ’22

Economics 

Seeking: Quantitative roles that tap into his love of econometrics

Preparation: Took advantage of mock interviews with his Gateway career counselor. Contacted visiting employers prior to the career fair and applied for roles, then scheduled interviews at the event.

Event: Met with four companies. Liked the virtual more than the traditional as it allowed for more time with the employers in a more controlled environment.

Next steps: Had several interviews and entered final rounds for a few potential positions.

Booths in exhibition hall at career fair

William Schlegel ’24

Mechanical engineering

Seeking: Internship at chemical and electronics companies

Preparation: Researched what each company does and how mechanical engineers are involved in the industry. Heeded a career counselor’s suggestion to reach out to alumni to try to form more professional connections and increase his chances of having his résumé advance. Career counselor also helped update his résumé and provided a list of alumni who would be useful to contact.

Event: Worked to gain information from the recruiters and use their contact information as a connection at the company when applying.

Next steps: Interviewed with three companies, two of which were at the career fair. Hoping to interview with two other companies that he met there who are still reviewing his résumé.

 

Rachel Garland ’22

Government and law, anthropology and sociology

Seeking: Research and writing positions in the nonprofit sector and at organizations working toward justice

Preparation: Looked through the list of companies and chose a few of interest. Narrowed down to her top three choices, researched each company, and determined a few questions to ask representatives about the organization and their career paths.

Event: Was only able to connect with two of the three top choices. Conversations with each were very different—one a brief 15-minute discussion while the other lasted 45 minutes. Both felt more comfortable than having a conversation in a formal interview. Personal network was definitely expanded even though it did not lead to an actual offer.

Next steps: One organization has a paid summer internship program that often leads to full-time offers. Will submit an application.  

Booths in exhibition hall at career fair

Katie Gonick ’20

Axtria

Experience: Able to chat with many students with the one-on-one video feature, which made the experience much more personal—answer individual questions and get to know students more.

Platform: Mimicked an actual event space. It was great to put together a “booth” just like an in-person fair.

Alumni thought: Second year participating at the career fair with Axtria, and Axtria’s third year recruiting from Lafayette. “As an alum, I love returning to Lafayette because I believe students learn really valuable professional skills like strong communication and critical thinking. It’s great to have a community of Lafayette alumni at Axtria, and, for me, returning for campus recruitment initiatives is a great way to give back.”

 

Julia Stomber ’21

Moody’s

Experience: Connected with current Lafayette students, shared information about Moody’s, and discussed opportunities for students. Lafayette students have a diverse set of interests, and each student is looking for something different in a future employer and career. All of the students had already identified their career interests and were able to market themselves, their skills, and their experience in a way that aligned with what they were interested in.

Platform: The typical format of a career fair was able to be imitated online. Going forward, hybrid and remote methods of connecting will continue to be a big part of daily life for many people, and the platform was an innovative way of connecting companies and students.

Alumni thought: Participated in the fair as a Lafayette student, although this was her first year participating on the alumni side. “I was introduced to Moody’s through an alumni connection at Lafayette, so going forward I definitely want to return the favor and be a resource for current students. Lafayette students are unique because of their liberal arts background. Along with having the academic background and experience in their area of study, they are strong communicators and writers, and have interests and knowledge outside of their studies as well.”

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