Advice from an Internship Fair Attendee

CATEGORIES: Student Perspective

I came into the Greenlee School’s [Jump-Start Internship & Networking Fair](/internships/jump-start-internship-networking-fair/) last Tuesday with the plan of only talking to three companies: the Des Moines Social Club, Hawthorne Direct and Weber Shandwick. Luckily I was forced to be more open-minded when I actually arrived at the fair.

I talked to the Des Moines Social Club first, and the meeting went really well since the recruiters remembered me from the fall. I already have an interview set up with them next week for a summer internship!

Next, I went to see Hawthorne Direct. It started out a little awkward because I didn’t follow the planned elevator speech in my head. However, I regained composure, pulled out my backup plan and told them about my math/engineering background. They seemed to be impressed with that kind of diversity and I’ve got my fingers crossed that I will hear back from them.

Weber Shandwick was one of the busiest tables at the internship fair. To me, the Weber Shandwick internship is the Holy Grail of all internships and career paths. Since their table was busy, I walked a lot of laps around the room to kill some time.

I eventually realized how silly I must have looked to all of the other companies, so I decided to wing it and talk to Grey Dog Media. Since I hadn’t planned to talk to this company, I went in with an open mind,and I’m so happy I did.

The man I talked to, Andrew Ventling, made the unknown painless. He answered every question I had, and asked me more than just the basic, “What’s your major, what are you involved in, etc.,” questions too. We talked about the company’s summer internships, and I ended up applying just by giving him my resume.

I stopped by Renewal Energy Group’s (REG) table as well because my editor from the Iowa State Daily was recruiting. She told me about the corporate affairs internship and how the company has a fun atmosphere even though they are a biodiesel company.

After I talked to some companies with an open mind, I only had one resume left. I used it for Weber Shandwick, once I made it back around to their booth.

Since I had talked to them in the fall, my plan was to approach their sable and say, “Hi, do you remember me? I’m Emma.” Guess what, it worked! I said my line and they replied, “Emma! The math girl, of course!”

Since I said what I had planned, the entire conversation was very comfortable and fun. I was able to talk about a food media site I founded at Iowa State, and they were impressed. They asked if I applied for the Weber Shandwick internship, and they were relieved when I said yes. We chatted, laughed and parted ways after a firm handshake.

I am so glad that I had a plan and didn’t flounder in front of them, but I am also happy that I became open-minded and saw more options. I think those are two very important lessons, and a balance of those two qualities is ideal at an internship or career fair.

Being open-minded is how you find out what you are or are not interested in. If you don’t look around, you’ll never know what could have been in your career path.

It can’t be intriguing for employers to hear a mundane script from hundreds of students who want the same internship. But it is even less impressive to sound unintelligent; the conversation needs to be genuine and professional.

In return you will be memorable.