MIT Career Fair is one of the larger events on campus in the fall. Hundreds of companies crowd the Zeigar center and Johnson track and ice rink pre-covid, of course. My freshman year, I walked around the converted landscape, bumping into students dressed in all styles of clothing (people were wearing flip flops!). But, I soon realized that only a few companies were interested in talking to first-year students. I had printed 30ish resumes (advice from upperclassmen) and was prepared to answer any question. But I felt incredibly disheartened when the recruiter, who without looking at my resume, asked me what year I was and shrugged off when I responded truthfully. I had even omitted the word “freshman” on my resume and put my graduation year one year ahead (because I *technically* could graduate in 3 years). The recruiters saw right past me. Sure, I knew a few friends who had callbacks the next day for interviews and eventual job offers, but most of us got the “maybe next year” spiel.
After the first few conversations, I stopped waiting in lines (like Google or Microsoft). Instead, I went around and got swag. It was easy because I told them I was a music major, which killed the conversation from the get-go (sad). The swag became an essential part of my casual wear before I got t-shirts from the swim team. I also got umbrellas, speakers, chargers, and water bottles that I still use.
As sophomore year came around, I thought: “this will finally be my chance!” Nope. While recruiters were more likely to take my resume, most times, they ended each conversation with: “remember to apply online!” Thanks. I already did that! “Great!” and I’d walk away. Junior year was online, and so that was even worse. So did the career fair directly benefit me? Not really. But indirectly? Sure! It helped me find companies I was interested in applying to and knocked my ego down a few pegs.
Tips for first years going to Career Fair:
Well hopefully it’s in person :).
Small companies hire from career fairs, so waiting in those lines is a good move. However, I would not recommend waiting in lines for larger companies unless you *really* don’t know what they do. I wouldn’t expect much if you weren’t god tier back in high school or unless the company had a first-year internship program. For the most part, I’d recommend walking around, grabbing swag, and applying online to the companies that attended and looked interesting. ALWAYS apply online afterward and use your school email if possible. I’d recommend asking upperclassmen for tips on resumes (post incoming), referrals (ugh), and life advice on preparing for the interviews. Also, never lose hope because everyone eventually finds something to do for the summer (I got an internship in April)!