Master Your Pitch

September 17, 2013

Electrical engineering major Leah Cramer ’15 joined fellow electrical, mechanical, industrial, and civil engineering students for an interactive workshop on September 9, in preparation for the Fall Job and Internship Fair on Thursday, September 19 from 11:00-3:30 in the Renaissance Coliseum. In anticipation of attending her first job fair, Cramer came prepared with questions. “I’d like to know what to expect. How formally do I address an employer at the fair, or are these opportunities more informal conversations? I am also looking at my career options.”

Sponsored by the CCET Dean’s Advisory Council (SAC), a group composed of student leaders from each of the engineering student organizations, this is the first year they invited guest speakers instead of facilitating roundtable discussions. Colleen Turner and Rachel Goodknight from Chicago’s KJWW Engineering Consultants’ human resources department offered tips on how to prepare for the fair. They encouraged students to first create a list of 6 to 10 companies from the more than 100 companies attending; next, research those companies’ websites and understand the mission statements; make sure job openings are a good fit; and finally, prepare quality questions.

“Companies are looking for articulate, smart, dependable employees,” Turner advised the majority of underclassmen. “Job fairs present you with a rare opportunity to speak directly to the source of a huge variety of companies. This encounter could be the beginning of your career, so the day of your first career fair is not the time to “wing it.”

Goodknight noted that students should prepare and practice a 30-60 second “elevator speech” or personal pitch that touts their unique traits and bridges what the company is about with what they have to offer.  “Be sure to request a business card from each company,” Goodknight suggested. “It’s most important to engage and ask the employer to define the next step for follow up.”

Turner added, “Your resume will open the door and advance your career or close it, and it should be as near to perfection as possible. So often your resume does the talking for you; what do you want it to say about you?” Turner further encouraged students to “let the objective line of the resume hook an employer; use a different objective line to target a specific company and connect with that specific employer.

Mechanical engineering major Luc Nguyen  ’16 was the first volunteer to energetically role-play his elevator speech with Goodknight, as Turner ended the workshop by reminding students to “Bring your ‘A’ game to your Super Bowl event. You have one time to make a favorable impression. Practice a strong handshake; make eye contact with confidence; show enthusiasm, good manners, and professionalism. Believe in yourself, and ask for the job.”

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