GVSU hosts annual career fair, offers tips on standing out in a competitive crowd

By Jessica Smith | 2/24/13 6:13pm


Megan Sinderson/ GVL
Thuy Nguyen, Accounting major, attaining information from potential employers at the GVSU Winter Career Fair at the DeVos Place Convention Center on Friday.

by Megan Sinderson / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Spring is almost here, and the graduation buzz has begun; and until Grand Valley State University students graduate in May, they’ve only got one thing on their minds: finding a career.

In an effort to answer questions about the internship and interviewing process, GVSU held it’s annual Career Fair last week, hosted at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. Hundreds of students gathered around tables set up by over 200 employers, eager to land the perfect post-grad gig. With so much competition, students may be wondering just what would make them stand out among the crowd.

Well, we did the dirty work for you and found out just who it is that these business representatives are going to remember once the day was done.

What’s going to make me stand out in a crowd of other students?

Joseph Presutti, Analyst at Blackford Capital: “Students that are outgoing, energetic, have passion for what we do. Show a willingness to learn, have some good work experience behind them, and have taken a lot of courses that have prepared them for the job.”

Megan Ashley, Red Frog Events: “We want to see your passions come out. We want to get to know you, so we want to encourage you to break out of your elevator speech and let us get to know you.”

Joel Niece, Fastenal: “Overall professional appearance. Eye contact, hand shakes, honestly a lot of it is how they’re dressed and how they carry themselves.”

Holly Westhouse, The Department of Human Services: “Someone who just really has an interest in pursuing a career that is their niche. A lot of people are looking for just any job and that’s not always the best fit.”

What’s going to make a potential employer single my resume out of a stack?

Scott Rogers, TQL: “We love extracurricular activities, not necessarily someone who just goes to class and then goes home. We like to see people involved in the campus, different organizations, maybe they’re working part-time and going to school and that shows a lot of drive – something we love to see.”

Joel Niece, Fastenal: “Typically their work experience, not so much their college experience. I want to see where have they worked, who have they worked under, what does their boss have to say about their work ethic?”

Annette McBride, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services: “A polished resume. Everything looks professional and when you look at it you say, ‘This looks like they spent a lot of time.’ It’s not something they just threw together in a few minutes.”

Bailey Yenglin: “We look at projects that they’ve done in the past. Experience in terms of practical experience so how do they apply something that they’ve learned to something that they’ve done in the past. They’re able to connect the actual experiences that they have to the knowledge that they have.”

What would be your suggestion to students whose resume lacks experience?

Joseph Presutti, Analyst at Blackford Capital: “I would be very up front with that and show that willingness to learn. Mention and say, ‘Here’s the research that I’ve done on your field on my own, and here’s why I’m interested in it, and here’s how I’m going to learn and contribute to your company in the future.’”

Joel Niece, Fastenal: “Talk about their experiences within school. Talk about volunteer programs or clubs or athletics or whatever it is that they’re interested in. Whatever it is that they’ve done. We’re really looking for someone with depth of personality in order to be relatable.”

Annette McBride, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services: “Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Find a place or an organization in your community where they’re willing to let you come in and spend some time. There’s plenty of opportunity.”

So take this advice with you to make the next career fair you attend a successful one.

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