In October, I attended the Indiana Means Business Career Fair. It seemed like a normal career fair with students, alumni and employers. It was a unique experience for me, though.
I had the pleasure of attending as an employer and as a student. I got to see how it operated on both ends of the spectrum. I must say, it was extremely interesting and I learned a lot.
I have been to a career fair before, solely as a student. I have been the nervous college kid walking up to an employer, not quite knowing what to say or how to act.
This time, I got to be the employer that nervous college kids approach. I was nervous at first myself, but I was passionate about what I was doing, so the words just came to me. I tried to take that approach and apply it when I was a nervous student. I was still passionate about what I was doing – talking to someone new, finding a job in a field that I love, and networking with people. Once I started thinking about it that way, it wasn’t so intimidating. I had more confidence and words started flowing more easily.
Through my internship, I have learned that I need to be myself. The first career fair I went to I was solely focused on being a model student. Somehow I ended up being exactly that, just another student that was trying to make her school proud, yet at the same time find a way to stand out.
Professors talk a lot about standing out – it is a lot easier said than done. Everyone thinks the one thing that makes them stand out is unique, but almost everyone probably has that same thing. The one thing I learned that was unique about me was my personality. The same probably goes for everyone else; we all have unique personalities.
I am learning that it’s okay to be myself. I can be professional, wear the right clothes, behave the right way, say the right things – everything I learned in the classroom. This internship has taught me that sometimes just being me is enough. My resume speaks for itself. This doesn’t mean I show up to interviews in anything less than a suit or forget everything I learned in the classroom. This just means that I can let my personality show. I’m not sure how many others hold back their personalities because they are trying to make sure they are doing everything professors taught them, but it was a problem for me.
The only advice I can give is to be yourself, no matter what. If a company didn’t hire me because my personality wasn’t the right fit, then I probably wouldn’t have been happy there anyway.
As cliché as it sounds, just be you.