For many, the idea of a Career Fair, let alone a virtual one, can seem foreign and intimidating. To demystify the process, USC Games Editorial sat down with Jennifer Kim, Director of Employer Engagement at the USC Career Center, to get some answers on how students can best prepare for success at the upcoming USC Virtual Career Fair (Sep. 22 – Sep. 23).
Q. What advice do you have for students who might be new to the Virtual Career Fair?
- Register on Brazen, look through the employers and roles, and prioritize the ones you’re interested in.
- We have close to 140 employers attending and you can’t be with all 100 employers at once within five hours. Think about your major, your interests, and what your career goals are. Then, come up with a strategy and prioritize, say, the top 10 employers you’d like to meet each day.
- Go meet the companies you’re interested in, regardless if you qualify for their open positions.
- Let’s say you’re a graduating senior and an employer you really want to meet is only coming on Day 2 (internships only). You should still register and stop by their booth just to see if they have any other opportunities or if they can connect you to another recruiter that’s looking for a full time role (and vice versa for first and second year students)!
- Role > Company.
- You might think that a tech company like NetApp might only be recruiting for technological positions, but that might not be true. They might be recruiting for marketing, social media, or something nontechnical. So just because you are, say, an English major, don’t think that you shouldn’t look into them. It really depends on the types of opportunities that they have.
- Prepare specific, targeted questions you can’t find the answer to elsewhere.
- When preparing to meet with a recruiter, prepare solid questions to ask them. Anything that you could find easily on Google, you shouldn’t ask. You should ask questions that only this recruiter can answer. So, for example, the work culture. How many Trojans did you have in your past summer program? The kinds of questions that you can’t find on the website.
- Have a strong Internet connection.
- Because Brazen allows you to do audio, video, and text chats, having a strong Internet is key. Employers sometimes get frustrated because the video or audio drops because there’s connectivity issues. If your dorm room doesn’t have a good Internet connection, consider going somewhere where there is. Be sure you test your Internet strength ahead of time.
- Dress for success.
- Make sure that you are fully in professional attire, whether that’s a suit, a nice shirt, a blouse, etc. You want to make a strong impression!
Q. Once you’ve secured your chat with the employer and you’ve asked your questions, how can you make sure that you keep that connection post-meeting?
- Ask for the recruiter’s email address, name, and LinkedIn.
- You are more than welcome to ask the recruiter to connect after the Career Fair. If you chat with an employer via audio, video or text, they will have a record of the conversation and they’ll be able to connect with you after the engagement. Also, when you register on Brazen, you have the option to consent to share your resume with the fair employers after the meeting. Be sure to do that!
- Don’t be afraid to drop off your resume and leave a note if you have to leave early.
- Say you want to meet a super popular company like Dreamworks Animation and there’s 100 students in line, but you have to go to class. Stand in line as much as you can and when you have to go, leave them a note. Brazen will still share your resume to the employer via email and then they’ll be able to connect with you that way. So just because you don’t get to physically speak to an employer that day, as long as you leave a note for that employer, they’ll still be able to connect with you.
Q. Within USC Games, there are a lot of game designers and artists who might be interested in less technical roles and so, for them, how would you say their approach should change when it comes to the Career Fair? For instance, should they have a portfolio ready?
- Focus on questions and introducing yourself. Save the portfolio for the follow-up.
- I think for the fair you don’t need to have a portfolio ready. It’s just like a short table talk where you’re just kind of getting to know each other, the position that they’re recruiting for, and your credentials in general.
- Once you follow up via email, LinkedIn, etc. is when you should have a portfolio ready to go. And so, to reiterate, for the fair you should come prepared, knowing as much as you can about that company and having solid questions ready to go.. But anything in terms of materials and personal projects that you really want to showcase, I think you could definitely do that after the fair when you message the recruiter moving forward.
- A note for those interested in games; don’t be afraid to look at different companies.
- There’s a lot of creator roles that a lot of non-gaming companies are looking for. In fact, I have a list of employers that are specifically open to speaking with gaming majors, including NetApp, Amgen, Edward Life Sciences and Visa. So make sure you do your homework ahead of time. Also, don’t be discouraged because you don’t see Blizzard or other top gaming companies. Do your homework, see the types of roles these employers are seeking, and then come to the fair targeting those types of employers.
Q. How do you go about calming your nerves before the Career Fair? Do you have any advice for students who might be anxious about talking to people all day?
- Think of the fair as a dialogue, not an interview.
- Networking or interviews can be scary, especially for our first year students. But a great interview is just a conversation between two or more people. Besides, these are not interviews! The fair is just a way to get to know the recruiter, the position that they’re recruiting for, and for them to get a very small glimpse of who you are.
- Be your (professional) self and embrace the connection.
- There’s no connection that’s bad or is a waste of time. Anytime you meet someone, there’s so much you can learn from that person, so think of this as a learning opportunity.
- Prepare an elevator pitch.
- The default chats are only 10 minutes. So I would recommend preparing an elevator pitch to convey a sense of who you are. It’s just a one or two sentence plug that summarizes what you want them to know about you. Whether it’s your name and your major, a project that you were able to work on with your professor last summer, etc. Always lead with that.
- The more you prepare, the less nervous you will be. Just like any type of encounter, whether it’s a class or an interview, as long as you’re fully prepared, and you know you’ve done your best, you have to just kind of leave it up to the forces that may be. The only things you can control are how well prepared you are, how good your resume is, and how well researched you are about a particular employer.
- Practice makes perfect.
- Another thing is practice. Ask your roommate, your parents, anyone you know to mock interview or mock “Career Fair” you. Also, get familiar with looking at yourself on camera.
Q. Did you have anything else you wanted to share?
Be excited! These recruiters are here for Trojans ONLY!
- I hope everyone’s really excited about the fair because these employers are coming to USC to meet you. They’re not going to some other school. You need to be a USC Trojan to attend this. And so, be excited and know that whoever you talk to, they want to be there. They paid money to talk to you and they’re investing a lot of their time, energy, and hours away from their office.
The USC Virtual Career Fair will be held on September 22, 2021 and September 23, 2021 from 10am-3pm. Day 1 will feature full-time opportunities, while Day 2 will focus exclusively on internship roles. To register, please visit Brazen and sign up with your usc.edu email address.