Surviving Career Fair Season: Tips From an Insider

By Trey Springer, Software Engineer

October 1st, 2012

My name is Trey Springer, and I work with our Software Development team. While my day is typically spent solving problems with our UK teams, I also spend a great deal of time focusing on bringing smart folks to Enova.

This past month, Enova has traveled to 6 different college campuses for career fairs, with even more in the coming months. When I was a student just a couple years ago, career fairs were the ultimate grind – hit as many of the booths as you could, hope you stood out enough to get another interview, and shift uncomfortably in dress shoes that didn’t fit as well as you remembered. Things haven’t changed all that much.

At Enova, we’d like you to stand out. We want to get to know you as well as we can in the few minutes we have to chat, so I have a few tips to help you be successful in career fairs.

Show me what you’ve shipped. We focus on solving problems every single day. It’s what makes our jobs so awesome – every day is something new to figure out. What have you figured out? The best way to show this is by showing what you’ve done. Have you made a website? Have you written an Android or iOS app? Have you been a leader of an organization and doubled membership? Interests are one thing – deliverables are another.

Let me know who you are by what you do outside of school… What clubs are you in? What do you do for fun? Let me get inside your head, and see if there’s something we have in common. I will have to spend five days a week with you, so I’d like to make sure we will get along. I will remember the candidate who tells me their favorite book more so than one that just likes reading.

…but don’t talk about your World of Warcraft guild. I’m not kidding – it’s happened more than once. You can mention it, but don’t tell me about a quest you just did unless you wrote a script to help you automate something.

Dress appropriately, but it’s not going to impress me. I’m not looking for the perfect shirt/tie combination. I want to see that you can dress appropriately for a situation. Consulting companies may look for how you look in a suit for different business environments, but I want to see that you can look presentable if we have to meet with an outside client. But really, I just don’t want to see any red flags. Don’t disqualify yourself from consideration because you wore a ratty t-shirt.

Don’t be shy! Have a conversation, don’t give a lecture. This is a really tough one, but I can guarantee that everyone at most booths is really nice, but pretty nervous about talking to all of the smart people stopping by. We have a big job to help make sure our company gets the absolute smartest folks who would be a good fit with our team, so we want to impress you too! Smile, and be friendly. Don’t just tell me what you do, ask me questions, and let’s become friends. It sounds cheesy, but I’ll remember you for sure.

Lastly, don’t get discouraged. Sometimes, you just happen to talk with someone who you don’t mesh with. Sometimes you make a mistake when you talk about your resume, sometimes the company is looking for someone with a different background. The more you go to career fairs, the better you’ll get. And, if you see me at any Enova booth, I’d be more than happy to talk to you, no matter your background. If you’re smart, we’re interested.

Career fairs are a stressful environment, but there is one thing that is more important than anything else – be yourself. We want to hire people we like, and we’ll like you way more when you’re genuinely interested in getting to know us as much as we want to know you. See you at the next career fair!

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