Christine Nhan, a second-year Health Studies student, attended the University of Waterloo's annual Job Fair, an event coordinated in partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Guelph and Conestoga College. She shares her experience at the largest job fair of its kind in the country.
Wednesday, February 1st, Job Fair day! Feeling both excited and nervous to put myself out there and talk to different employers. I made sure to grab a cup of coffee on my way to the free shuttle bus so that I am fully awake and ready to network.
Nothing like a friendly welcome onto the shuttle bus. Richard, a manager at UWaterloo's Centre for Career Action (CCA), welcomed a crowd of us onto the 10:00 a.m. shuttle bus located right outside Humanities Theatre. As the final students hopped onto the shuttle bus, the 10 o’clock mark hit and we were off to Job Fair!
Exactly what I needed to make me a little less nervous! A career advisor from CCA prepared us for the day with an overview of the event and tips on how we can maximize our opportunities at Job Fair. Looking around the bus, I could tell his words of encouragement had a positive effect on us all.
Arriving at RIM Park, I was amazed to see the line of students waiting to register from each of the event’s partnering institutions, including the University of Waterloo, Laurier, Guelph and Conestoga College. Luckily, the wait to get into Job Fair wasn’t long. The registration tables were well organized and quickly shuffled us students in. All you need is your Watcard! (I also learned that Job Fair isn't open to students or alumni from schools other than the ones mentioned above.)
With over 175 employers present at Job Fair, stepping through the convention doors was a bit overwhelming. However, the friendly P4E staff gave me an event floor plan. This made it so much easier for me to navigate through the space and find the specific employers I’m interested in. They also gave me a sheet of paper that outlines what kind of jobs each employer was hiring for.
Job Fair is such an energizing environment to be in. Whether you look to the left, right, or straight ahead, there are students dressed in their sharpest business attire and making the effort to expand their professional network.
Taking a look around the crowd, I was extremely motivated to take the chance and talk to different employers. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. All the employers I interacted with were extremely approachable and more than happy to talk to me about their business and possible job opportunities.
All morning, I noticed a professional photographer was giving away free head shots to students. Being a tad camera shy, I was hesitant to take advantage of the amazing opportunity. But it was the best time to grab a picture for my LinkedIn profile. I can’t wait to get the picture back next week and see how it turned out! (Editor's note: Christine's free head shot is featured at the top of this page, and it turned out great!)
Coming into Job Fair, I knew exactly which employers I wanted to talk to - after all, I had been reading up about them on the Job Fair website prior to the fair. I also downloaded the P4E Career Fair Plus app to my phone so I could have the most up-to-date employer list right in my hand (and there is even a printed book of employers available at the fair for those of you who didn't do your research ahead of time).
However, taking a peek at the different booths set up really opened my eyes to how diverse the employers were. I saw everyone from Sun Life Financial to General Motors to PepsiCo. Although not every employer was directly related to my field of study, I figured with the opportunity laying right in front of me, I would take the chance to if there were any potential opportunities.
After wrapping up my day at Job Fair, I was feeling really good that I stepped outside my comfort zone to network with a long list of employers. On my way out I couldn’t help but overhear another student mention that an employer asked him to meet tomorrow for an interview. Hopefully I'll hear back from an employer as well!
With P4E’s Job Fair being both free and annual, I’ll definitely be making an effort to attend next year’s event. I was really surprised how easy it is to network with employers!
Editor's note: A big thank you to Christine for sharing her experiences! Every February, Job Fair attracts employers who are looking for summer students, part-time work, or co-op positions. It's a great opportunity for students of any year to practice networking or land that next work term or summer job. If you missed this one, be sure to join us in November for our annual Career Fair where employers bring their full-time opportunities back to RIM Park!