Other opportunities: What to do if the job fair does not work out

Credit: Molly Swartz/ Credit: Molly Swartz/

When the TOC and BOC conferences wrap up, many students may be left with unmet expectations. Whether looking for an internship or a full-time job, students still have a wide variety of options available to them.

Explore TartanTrak

While the conferences offer an excellent opportunity to meet with potential employers in person, students have a much larger pool of employers available to them year-round through TartanTrak, which offers over 11,000 company profiles. These 11,000 businesses currently offer around 2,200 positions for which Carnegie Mellon students can apply via the university’s online service.

The fairs “are wonderful opportunities for students to network with employers and to secure that first interview. But it is not the only way,” said Farouk Dey, the director of Carnegie Mellon’s Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) in an interview two years ago.

“There are many employers who are out there who choose not to come to the conference for one reason or another but are still very interested in Carnegie Mellon students. The first place I would always send students to is TartanTrak,” Dey said. “I want to encourage every student, whether they get an interview or not, to go on TartanTrak and look up these employers.”

Students can visit TartanTrak to submit résumés, sign up for interviews, and explore job opportunities. Students can register for their TartanTrak login information at www.studentaffairs.cmu.edu/career/students_alumni/tartantrak.html.

Expand professional networks

According to Dey, the majority of university students across the country find their jobs through previously established connections.

“Networking is really the No. 1 way people get jobs,” Dey said. “Occasionally these connections can be neighbors or family friends, but most of the time these are professional connections that students have developed through joining clubs, organizations, or committees.”

Dey said that students must first be aware of the contacts they have available to them and then leverage these connections. Many, however, wonder how exactly to begin taking advantage of their networks. According to Dey, it is often just a matter of getting the word out.

“The first place to start is to let people know that you’re looking — let your parents know, let your friends know, let your roommate know. Inform people that you are approaching graduation and are beginning to look for a full-time position,” Dey said. “Just the fact that you’re letting them know and asking them to keep you in mind if they hear about an opportunity increases your chances of being in the right place at the right time.”

Take advantage of online networking

The advantages of online networking are often not succesfully leveraged by students. The internet, along with tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn, give students the option of reaching hundreds, if not thousands, of their friends and acquaintances with one click of a mouse.

“One of the tools I often recommend is LinkedIn. It is fantastic because it not only allows you to document all the people in your professional network who you know, but it also allows you to tap into a larger network through those people,” Dey said.

As an example, Dey opened his own LinkedIn profile to show the power of the site. “This is my LinkedIn page and I use it very much. You can see I have 331 connections — these are people that I know personally through my career or some are also friends or acquaintances. Through these 331 connections I am then connected to 3,316,810 people,” Dey said.

Dey explained the power of such online networking services by giving a hypothetical example. “If I am interested in working for Intel, I can type ‘Intel’ into the LinkedIn search. The first people that show up in my list are the people who are connected to me but also have a strong connection to Intel. They may know someone else who works there, or have worked there themselves. The great part about this is I now know who to contact to begin my search. It is a powerful way to look for connections.”

Be persistent

For those students who may leave the conferences feeling let down, persistence will pay off, according to Dey. He believes that it is important to not give up when hunting for a job.

“Even the employers who you may have met at the [BOC/TOC/EOC] who maybe did not offer you an interview at the conference — it is okay to return to them and ask them to reconsider or if they have any other opportunities,” Dey said.

“It really is a matter of engaging your professional associations, networking both online and in person, getting involved, and I would finish by telling students to not lose hope. Be persistent.”