Nothing beats actual human interaction. Really.

I’m writing this post on the heels of two days of enormously-successful career fairs. More than 3000 students visited and spoke with over 250 employers at the University Career Fair and the STEM Career Fair. And while I’m pleased that all students could have access to such a wealth of employers, let’s focus on engineering students here…that is, after all, my job.

So here’s the thing…engineering EXISTS to solve problems for people. Even if you sit alone in your room and bang out code for a smartphone app…it is in the service of real, live human beings. Why do I mention this? Because it’s all too often that I see engineering students – who love technology – forget that all work is ultimately human in scope and scale…and correspondingly, the same should be said for their career development.

Yes, online tools such as HuskyCareerLink and CCD On Demand can provide help in writing a resume, obtaining an interview, or searching for an internship. But let’s remember that the resume will be read by a person, the interview will involve talking to actual humans, and there will probably be other people at your next workplace. All too often, even when human interaction is desired – say, meeting with me one-on-one – engineering students will almost always flock to the online scheduling tool AdvApp and wait for weeks to see me, when calling the Center for Career Development scheduling over the phone will likely get you in my office in a week or less!

What does this have to do with the Career Fair? Everything. The Career Fair setting is one of the only places where you KNOW that an actual human will see your resume. HuskyCareerLink aside, most online applications are a black hole where you never even know if a person actually reviewed your credentials. At the fair you become an actual applicant, not just an application.

Now what?

Your job is to make sure you stay on the employers’ radars. Be sure to email the company reps you met at the fair. Thank them for their time, and maybe even send your resume along again, just to make sure they have it. The Center for Career Development Resume and Professional Writing Guide can help with your follow up.

Good luck with your follow up, and don’t forget to keep reaching out directly to employers…nothing beats actual human interaction. Really.

By John Bau
John Bau Career Consultant, School of Engineering John Bau