written by: Abinethaa Paramasivam, 3rd year, Biomedical Science
Ryerson’s STEM Career Fair is being held from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm on September 28 Kerr Hall West Upper Gym. The journey to meaningful employment is a chapter in every student’s #RoadFromRyerson story. Over the next month, we’ve invited Ryerson STEM students to share their professional development stories via the Path to Career blog series.
Countless cold emails asking scientists for a research position, submitting job applications one after another, and several hours spent perfecting your resume. With all this hard work, it can be discouraging to see only a rejection email in your inbox. Being a biomedical science student, I know the difficulties in finding a science-related job especially if you have no relevant work experiences or valuable connections. Luckily, Ryerson’s Career Centre hosts a STEM Career Fair where students can connect with employers face to face, hand in their resume directly, and ask questions.
Last year I had the pleasure of working as a Career Fair Assistant (CFA) at the STEM Career Fair. As a CFA I got to see behind the scenes action of the event unfold – including employers working away on every minute detail at their booths and students’ hands filled with resumes and nervously waiting for the fair to start. But, just before the influx of STEM students arrived, I took advantage of the opportunity to network with employers when helping with setup. I asked questions about their own career path, what type of students they were hoping to hire, types of jobs available, and important technical or soft skills they were looking for in students. I kept a mental note of each piece of information provided by employers and wrote it all in my notebook. This way I can see what types of skills are needed for different jobs and which skills I posses but were not included in my resume.
Speaking with employers was key because I was able to make new networks, learned to speak confidently, practice my elevator pitch, and learn about different career trajectories. At the end of the day, I did not land a new job. However, I had the opportunity to meet one on one and discovered I needed to improve my resume by including keywords that employers commonly look for when hiring students. Eventually the confidence I developed from talking to employers, and making changes to my resume, helped me secure a position as a Veterinary Science Projects Assistant for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for this past summer 2017. It is important to remember the purpose of a career fair is to not only find a job, but also to grow your network, learn new skills, and improve for the future.
Now with this being said, I do understand entering a gym with hundreds of other STEM students competing for the same opportunities can be overwhelming. Trust me, I still get nervous talking to employers and go through a “Should I attend?” phase every night before a fair. But I do have a few tips to share that help me when attending fairs and speaking with employers:
Ask yourself: Why are you attending?
Give yourself a pep talk (literally!). Before attending fairs, I like to write down my goals for the fair, all the things that can go well if I do attend, and how it will help me professionally. Not only does it encourage me to attend the fair, but it also makes me less nervous.
Speak to companies you are NOT interested in first.
This may seem strange, but I like to visit companies that I am not really interested in working with first. I think of it like a practice run and it allows me to see what type of questions employers may ask. As well, it helps you get going with the momentum and builds confidence. About 2-3 employers later, I head down to interested companies I’m most interested in with a new level of confidence and with a better idea of how to approach them.
Write down what went well, what did not, and anything new you learned.
Ithink find this isto be the most important tip of them all. This is important because itthat helps you reflect and learn. You will recall on your achievements and feel motivated to attend other events. Writing down what did not go well is a great way to see what you need to work on for the next event, and will help you improve.
Overall, don’t worry about saying something wrong or making a fool of yourself in front of employers. In the end of the day, you may never see them again. Therefore, on September 28 at the STEM Career Fair, I challenge you to take a leap to your career, meet new people, learn new things and move one step closer to landing your dream job!
For more information about the fair, please visit: http://www.ryerson.ca/careerfairs/stem/studentsalumni/
The Career Centre offers a variety of Career Fairs for students from every Faculty. Find all the info here: http://www.ryerson.ca/careerfairs/
Abinethaa Paramasivam is a third year student at Ryerson University, majoring in biomedical science co-op and completing a food security certificate. She is passionate about global nutrition and communicable diseases. At Ryerson, she works as a Career Fair Assistant for the Career Centre and as Production Manager for the Planetary Health Weekly. As well, she is a clinical research volunteer at the Hospital for Sick Children. This past summer she worked as a Projects Assistant in the Veterinary Science Unit for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. During her free time, she enjoys playing with her dog and bike riding. In the next few years, Abinethaa sees herself playing an integral role in ending hunger around the world.