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Nothing to fear but the career fair itself

By Michelle CannizzoSpecial to the Chronicle

Throughout my childhood, I was often told, “You are so blessed that you were born when you were.” I completely agree with my elders in that I am indeed blessed to not have been born during a time of war drafts, child labor or civil rights movements.

We have everything we could ever want in our generation. We have clean food and water, public schools and libraries, and the option to refuse to fight in war. But it seems that we also have something else that our parents never had to deal with: an increasingly high unemployment rate.

According to a chart created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average unemployment rate between the years 1970 and 1975, when most of our parents first started to work, was 4.6 percent nationwide. The average unemployment rate between the years 2010-2013 was a high 8.3 percent. Although the unemployment rate has been decreasing, it will not reach the low point of our parent’s generation by the time we graduate college, meaning that we are half as likely to get a job than our parents were when they graduated.

Going out into the world can seem frightening when you hear these sorts of statistics. That is why Hofstra took it upon itself to make the transition from student to employee a little easier by hosting career fairs.

The career fair gives students an amazing opportunity to put themselves on display for potential employers, whether for an internship or full-time employment. The career fair is one of the best ways to show yourself off to employers and to prove to them that you are the best candidate for their company.

But wait, what if you are not the best candidate for their company - or for any company that rented a stand for that matter? What if, even with your experience-packed resume, your professional clothes and the firmest handshake you can manage, you are still not the “right” fit for their company?

The fear of rejection is the leading factor in why not many Hofstra students attend these career fairs. Today, students are told that they need to have an amazing resume, hours of experience, past internships, a GPA of at least 3.6, proficiency in two languages, etc., just to be able to qualify for an entry-level job or internship.

Job-searchers in our generation must have incredible credentials in order to even be granted an interview opportunity - one of the hardest steps in landing a job. Hofstra’s career fair practically eliminates that long, agonizing, wait for a call back after resume submission, because it immediately brings your face-to-face with employers.

These face-to-face interactions with employers are a vital part in the process of getting a job, because they allow hopeful future employees to show potential employers that they are more than just their resume. Face-to-face encounters allow students the opportunity to make a lasting impression on potential employers by sharing their personality, thoughts on the company and future career goals.

The career fair can be helpful to students looking for both internships and jobs, and it needs to be used to our advantage. So forget that nagging feeling in your head that your credentials aren’t good enough, or that if you just wait until next year, your resume will have twice as much material. Go to the career fair, look around the company booths and perhaps talk to a few employers. Even if you come out of the fair without a job or internship offer, you still will have gained the fundamental experience of learning how to present yourself professionally to employers.

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