This is a reflection on the Amazon Career Day event I attended on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.
When was the last time you attended a career fair? Stood in line to speak with an employer? Introduced yourself to a notable person with limited time?
For me, it was last Tuesday at the Amazon Career Day in Arlington, VA, home of Amazon’s new HQ2 grounds.
As a representative of a major university in the vicinity of their new location, along with others at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, I am excited about the proximity of the company’s new presence on the east coast. To be clear, I did not attend the Amazon event as a job seeker. Instead, my goal was to connect with notable individuals who could share their talent acquisition and candidate recruitment plans for the new location, specifically for graduate-level, business school students. The experience reminded me to have empathy for all the job-seeking business students I work with who are seeking opportunities at competitive organizations.
I have worked in the career development space for over 11 years. During the past 11 years, I have prepared undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students to attend career events. I have ideated and planned career events for Johns Hopkins University students to attend. I have attended large and small career fairs organized by other schools or professional associations as a sponsor or participant on behalf of Johns Hopkins University. And I forgot what it felt like to be in the shoes of an active job seeker.
Prior to the event, I registered as a participant, planned my journey from Baltimore to Arlington, and put on my out of office message for Tuesday. I also reached out through my personal connections to learn if anyone they knew from Amazon would be at the event for me to speak with. Fortunately, I was connected to at least one person who knew one person. Even with the prior connection and warm introduction, I knew I would need to pack my stamina and a pair of stylish, yet comfortable, shoes. For all the active student job seekers out there at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, the greater Johns Hopkins University, and beyond, here is advice (that I was recently reminded of) as you approach the active campus recruitment season:
- Plan ahead to maximize success. Learn anything about the career event you can through people connections or what is posted on the website, event platform, or social media.
- Dress appropriately. Even if the company or organization has a casual dress code, don’t embrace it as a job seeker UNLESS they invite you to do so. Amazon encouraged people attending this career event to dress comfortably. There were people attending wearing suits and people wearing jeans.
- Answer the question “what is my goal for attending this event?” Then make it happen.
- Stand in the lines strategically. Stand in lines and be patient. Stand in lines and engage with the people standing with you. Don’t be rude or edge people out of lines. People notice.
- Seek out the keynote speaker after s/he is finished. If that person left quickly, try to connect with the person’s representative to introduce yourself, drop a business card, or share a resume.
- Ask if there is anyone else you should speak with before you leave. Ask for the best way to connect with the people you speak with after the event. Ask if the person you spoke with would be comfortable if you connected on LinkedIn.
- Articulate yourself genuinely and confidently. Reflect afterward on how you could strengthen the message the next time.
- Be respectful to everyone you speak with, even if they are removing the trash or cleaning the bathroom. People notice.
- Say thank you at the moment and follow up with a thank you afterward to the people you met.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Your feet will thank you.
Best wishes for a productive and successful fall recruitment season!