The Career Fair–A Humbling Experience

Today was a day I was waiting for. A day in which I could proudly strut my stuff around the gym on campus, flashing my exceptional resume to my possible future employers, and wowing them with my knowledge and charisma….

The career fair.

Yet when I walked through those double doors, a folder full of resumes in hand, things seemed to change. Here I was, standing among several rows of future employers, most of which already had people talking with them.

Competition…

I reviewed my list of people present, and went first to an organization I was most familiar with, an event planning agency in St. Louis. Almost fluently, I delivered all the information I knew about them, how my experience relates to their company, et cetera, et cetera.

I guess the advice I got on networking is actually working…

Then I started milling about, jumping from table to table, trading my resume for promotional brochures and fliers about internships.

Wait….INTERNSHIPS?!

Not me. No way! I have waaaaaay more experience than a bunch of my colleagues. I deserve a full-time job immediately after I graduate in May. I should have these people crawling over each other to hire me into their communications department!

Here’s the thing: these are all messages that I’ve gotten from other people. I’ve heard so much positive feedback on the work I’ve done, and how professional I am, and how great I am to work with. In return, however, I developed an air of cockiness and overconfidence, which typically is not the way I act, especially in front of future business contacts.

As I talked to more and more employers, something became very clear to me: this job market sucks right now. There are opportunities out there for me, they might just not be (a) exactly what I’m looking for, (b) within St. Louis or (c) paid.

I’m not going to lie when I say that I am extremely proud of my resume. Everything listed required hard work and dedication, and about 90% of those were unpaid. I have tweaked and prodded and poked at this thing to ensure that I had it in tip-top shape.

Yet even through the hard work and diligence I put into polishing this piece of paper, it is still no guarantee of a job. Ever. I always knew the job market was in a slump; I could turn to any news source for that information. Yet it never truly hit me until I actually started seeking employment.

This experience has humbled me. Sure, a full time job would be ideal, but what’s another internship going to do? It certainly won’t hurt me, that’s for sure. Even if it means getting a part-time job serving tables, at least I know I’ll be getting the experience that, one day, will pay off in the form of a full-time job.

So by the end of my time spent at the career fair, my attitude had changed. Though I am still actively seeking a full-time job for after I graduate, having any opportunity to do what I love while gaining experience is perfect for me. With this new mindset, I will continue to do what I know I do best, and maintain the confidence in myself that has allowed me to partake in these experiences…

…even if it means without pay.

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