Fake it ‘til you make it: Job fair sheds light on ‘real world’

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Ah, the Penn State Behrend job fair. Easily the worst “fair” I’ve ever been to but it included an equal amount of nausea.
A friend and I had decided to go on a whim after considering that all other means of searching for summer internships were clearly in vain at this point.
From my experience, the only way you get an internship is by knowing somebody’s half-brother’s friend’s hairdresser’s uncle who works at an engineering firm and is able to bring up your name in the break room and find you a position.
I knew this going into the job fair. I figured it couldn’t hurt to get my resume out there and shoot the breeze with the corporate folk, so I went anyways.
Fake it ‘til you make it, right? There was definitely a healthy amount of faking-it going on.
It wasn’t too long ago that I was in high school and the most my jobs had ever demanded of me was washing dishes or cutting grass.
Now, I was at a job fair in a freakin’ suit surrounded by a bunch of other students who were all kissing these recruiters’ you-know-whats in hopes of being employed.
I had never been to a job fair before, and I am not a terribly articulate person, especially when put on the spot. I’ll admit that. At times I would go as far as to describe my speech as somewhere in between Rocky and somebody who doesn’t even speak English.
It’s not any easier being under pressure to set yourself apart from hundreds of other kids in a matter of a couple minutes.
Because some of the recruiters weren’t exactly the friendliest people in the world and expected me to sell myself, there were a few awkward moments.
“Yeah, so, uh, I’m a college student. My interests include Dave Matthews and watching “Seinfeld;” I live three hours away from here and I need a job.” Doesn’t work.
Yeah, this example may not be verbatim, but you get the point. I’d love to talk to these people like actual human beings, but I feel like you have to present yourself in a way that says, “I eat, sleep and breathe [insert career choice here],” whenever you’re at an event like this.
It’s kind of ironic when this just makes you blend in with everyone else.
Other recruiters were really nice. One of them was an older guy there on his own who couldn’t have been happier to tell me all about the high-tech aircraft braking systems his company worked on.
Sometimes it got to be so far over my head that all I could do was nod, but he was cool.
Even though there was a line, he didn’t treat anyone like he didn’t have time for them.
The downside was that there was one position available and he already had a stack of about 100 resumes.
They were offering candy at the door so I stuffed as much banana Laffy Taffy as I could into the pocket of my $8 Goodwill blazer and got the hell out of there.
My friend and I joked about trading the business cards we’d acquired like they were baseball cards on the car ride back.
On one hand, I know what to expect in the future when I’m ready to take it a little more seriously, but on the other hand, it was a little intimidating knowing how close I am to this whole “adult” thing.

KYLE JOSEPH

josep[email protected]