Prepare for the Fair Blog

October 14, 2011


The annual Engineering Consortium Career Fair is coming up on October 21st, and in order to help you prepare the Center for Career Education is running this blog series! Each weekday preceding the event, we'll discuss the ways that you can get the most out of the experience, provide pictures from years past, and profile several of the exciting companies that will be visiting campus.

Register for the Engineering Consortium Career Fair 2011!

October 18 at 11:59pm: Registration deadline for a Fast Pass to the event which will speed your entrance to the event. 

Register for the Engineering Career Fair Networking Reception.

Thur Oct 20, 2011

New Connections: How to Follow Up

Our series has come to an end, but your communication with the employers has just begun! If possible, reach out to the contacts you have met within 1-3 days by email or post with a follow-up letter. Please click on the link to see examples and learn more about the purpose of the follow-up letter: to show your appreciation for their meeting, to reaffirm your interest in any positions that were discussed, to ask politely for a new contact, or to send any additional materials that they requested. Keep the letter concise but authentic and memorable, and rely on your notes from the conversations while the conversation is still fresh in each of your minds. We wish you luck as you take next steps with these employers, and thank you for staying tuned to our inaugural blog series!


Wed Oct 19, 2011

The Encounter: What to Say and Expect

As you continue your research (see last Friday’s post!), keep in mind how you can let your knowledge come through when you’re speaking to a recruiter or representative from an organization. There are many different ways that the conversation can progress, and feel confident to follow the thread wherever it takes you, from the organization’s history to positions available for students. Consider how you can phrase starter questions positively: What makes your company a great way to work? How can I add value to your organization?

In addition to demonstrating your knowledge of the organization, be sure to project confidence about yourself! Consider writing and rehearsing a 15-second “elevator pitch” to neatly encapsulate your history and the value you can add to a company, and seize the opportunity to talk in greater length if you happen to arrive when there is no line of other students waiting behind you!

As the conversation begins to wrap up, politely ask for a business card. Immediately after having the conversation, record some detailed notes to capture the main ideas that were communicated. Are there any upcoming deadlines? What qualities did the company seem seeking in its candidates? What were the names of people you were encouraged to reach out to? Are there any new positions that you learned about? Having these details safely recorded will free your mind for the remainder of the career fair, and will be valuable when you begin to follow up with your new contacts – stay tuned for Thursday’s final post!




Tues Oct 18, 2011

A conversation with Microsoft

Come as you are. Do what you love. We are a global company, located in over 100 countries, but we often act like a startup. We do software, but we also do hardware, services, research, and community outreach. We work hard, but we value work/life balance, and each of us defines what that means to us. So why not explore what we do, where we do it, and what life is really like at Microsoft? You just might be surprised.

What can a student do to make the best impression on you at the career fair?

Visit the company’s career site to learn more about the roles that match your area of interest; and come prepared with a current 1-page resume.

What is unique about your company, and why is it a great place for a student to work?

Microsoft interns and employees have passion for technology, a desire to make an impact, enjoyment for solving difficult problems, and an interest in working side-by-side with the best and brightest from around the world. At Microsoft, we believe that we can change the world, and it starts by hiring great people.

How do you encourage students to remain engaged with your company after the fair?

Visit to apply online or contact your school recruiter,

Positions Available: (may require enrollment in Doctorate or Masters Degree programs)

Software Development Engineer (SDE), Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET), Program Manager (PM)

Fri Oct 14, 2011

Knowledge is Power: Researching Organizations

If the Engineering Consortium Career Fair is a midterm exam, then preparing your attire and resume are like prerequisites for the course. Mid-October is certainly a time of study for your academic courses themselves, and in the following week we’ll shift our focus to your main task: researching organizations for opportunities, and exploring your own interests to find potential alignments. As you explore industries and organizations between now and the fair next week, keep in mind that research is an ongoing process and that the skills and perspectives that you gain now will influence the trajectory of your career for years to come. Congratulations on your work so far, and we wish you the best of luck in your research!

A great place to begin your exploration is the profiles of employers participating in ECCF 2011. Read many of the brief descriptions provided, and pick 3-5 employers that you will investigate more seriously. As we have heard in our conversations with Procter & Gamble and Con Edison, employers are particularly impressed by a student who understands the company’s values, is aligned with its mission, and has specific questions to indicate a good fit within the organization. As you become more knowledgeable about certain companies, remain completely receptive to the opportunities and advice offered by all employers at the fair, and don’t be shy to start a conversation even if you haven’t thoroughly researched the organization!

As a Columbia student, you have complementary access to many online resources that will be essential to your research. View a full list here, and if you’re unsure which to use consider exploring CCE’s industry-specific resources, WetFeet, or Vault.


Thurs Oct 13, 2011

A conversation with Con Edison

We have the privilege of lighting New York City's five boroughs as well as the growing business centers of Westchester County. We illuminate operating rooms where medical miracles occur, bring up the lights on Broadway, and energize one of the world's largest mass transportation systems. We are the power behind Wall Street and the corner store. And, most important, we transmit and distribute the electricity and gas used in millions of homes. By focusing on what we do best - delivering energy over a reliable transmission and distribution system - Con Edison has grown into one of the nation's leading utilities. We serve 3.1 million electric customers, 1.1 million gas customers, and 1,825 steam customers. Our service area includes the five boroughs of New York City and parts of neighboring Westchester County. Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., one of the nation's largest investor-owned energy companies with $13 billion in annual revenues and approximately $36 billion in assets.

What can a student do to make the best impression on you at the career fair?

Prior to attending the fair, a student should visit our website to find out about our history. Students should research our GOLD program and look into the new initiatives we are working on.

What is unique about your company, and why is it a great place for a student to work?

Con Edison is the type of place where you learn something new every day. The general culture of the organization is to find solutions to problems and becoming a change agent as opposed to dwelling on the problem at hand.

How do you encourage students to remain engaged with your company after the fair?

In general, Con Edison is represented at the fairs by former GOLD associates. I encourage potential applicants to “pick” the former GOLD Associates’ brains and ask many questions about the program to determine if it would be a good match for the student. If after that brief discussion the student seems interested, we would encourage them to sign-up for an on-campus interview.

Positions Available:
Business / Strategic Management, Manufacturing / Production / Operations


Wed Oct 12, 2011

Columbia and the Consortium: Standing Out

While the Engineering Consortium Career Fair has an engineering focus compared to the Fall Career Fair, attendance is not limited to undergraduate and graduate engineering students. Students from these six Columbia schools are also invited to attend the event:

Columbia College
Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
School of Continuing Education
School of General Studies
School of the Arts

Finally, because the event is a consortium, hundreds of engineering students from other partner universities will also attend.

Inviting students from many other schools attracts over a hundred pre-eminent national and international engineering employers’ interest in participating in the event, and last year over 1,900 students attended. There are many ways that Columbia students profit from having the fair on our own campus, and are encouraged to take advantage of two opportunities available exclusively to Columbia students:

The fair lasts from 10am to 4pm, and during the first two hours Columbia students have the unique chance to speak with employers before students from other schools are admitted.

Students from all seven eligible Columbia schools are also invited to attend the Engineering Career Fair Networking Reception the evening before on Saturday, October 20th from 8-9pm. The event is a great way to get a jump-start at establishing a personal, face-to-face connection with the employers in an informal networking setting. This is your best chance to meet a big-name employer without a long line behind you!


Tues Oct 11. 2011

A conversation with Procter & Gamble

The P&G community consists of over 138,000 employees working in over 80 countries worldwide. What began as a small, family-operated soap and candle company now provides products and services of superior quality and value to consumers in over 180 countries. Our core values and principles guide us in everything we do. Our purpose is to provide products and services of superior quality and value to the world's consumers. Our company has one of the largest and strongest portfolios of trusted brands, including Pampers, Tide, Ariel, Always, Pantene, Bounty, Charmin, Downy, Iams, Crest, Actonel and Olay. Three billion times a day, P&G brands touch the lives of people around the world. Our corporate tradition is rooted in the principles of personal integrity, respect for the individual and doing what's right for the long-term. Our core values and principles guide us in everything we do. Our purpose is to provide products and services of superior quality and value to the world's consumers.


What can a student do to make the best impression on you at the career fair?

Get to know yourself and the company you’re pursuing:  Take some time before hand to think about your career interests and goals. What would you like to achieve and how is the company you’re pursuing going to fit those needs? You’ll find it easier to impress potential employers with your passion and experience when your values and the company’s values match up.

What is unique about your company, and why is it a great place for a student to work?

P&G is not just a consumer products company, we’re in the business of growing leaders. As a "build from within" organization, we see 95% of our people start at an entry level and then progress and prosper throughout the organization. This not only creates many wonderful opportunities to grow and advance, it creates a special camaraderie among fellow P&Gers, many of whom came up through the ranks together.

How do you encourage students to remain engaged with your company after the fair?

Keep in touch with P&G contacts that you meet. Look out for future P&G campus visits, and reach out to us for support with student-organized events or projects. Let us know how we can be more involved!

Positions Available:

Manufacturing Engineer (Full-Time, Intern, and Co-op positions)

Mon Oct 10. 2011

Dressing like a Pro: Attire, resume, and more

Whether or not you’ve attended a career fair before, preparing well in the coming days will increase your impression on employers and your own perspective on career development. Now is the ideal opportunity to update your resume to reflect your achievements, which will be easily revisable for years to come! You need to be dressed in professional attire to be admitted to the fair, and you should have your resume and other materials on hand to be effective with employers.

Professional Attire for Men
Wear a suit in a conservative and dark color, like navy or charcoal, a tie which doesn't draw attention to itself, a pressed shirt (preferably white), and socks that match your pants. Shoes should be traditional and polished.

Professional Attire for Women
Wear a pant suit or skirt suit in a conservative color, and a conservative blouse. If wearing a skirt suit, make sure the skirt is of a moderate length, and you wear neutral hose without snags or runs. When wearing a dress shirt, women should also button up, taking care to avoid a very revealing neckline. Shoes should be traditional, polished (no scuffmarks), and not run down in the heels. Heels should be a comfortable height and not too high (not more than 1-2 inches). Avoid wearing open-toed shoes or slingbacks.

Resume and other materials

Creating a resume for the first time will take some effort, but the document will be essential in applying for internships and other opportunities during college and beyond. To learn about formatting, what information to include, and how to describe your experiences, please visit this resume tipsheet from the Center for Career Education.

Ideally, you should print many copies of your resume on resume stock paper in advance. It is essential to at least print several copies from a standard printer and have a professional folder or portfolio to keep your materials organized. Prepare a list of questions and basic research on each organization to demonstrate your interest, and have a pen and notepad to record what you have learned from conversations with recruiters.

Having business cards to distribute is a great way to help employers remember you without immediately sharing your resume. Although it is standard to give at least a week of advance notice, please order business cards from Columbia Print Services immediately if you are interested.

Resume Assistance from the Center for Career Education

  • This Friday, October 14 from 3:30-4:30pm in Hamilton Hall, Room 602, attend the Resume and Engineering Career Fair Prep for Undergrads.
  • Check out this online Resumes and CVs Webshop resource.
  • Visit our office during walk-in hours, weekdays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. You can meet with a counselor for 10 minutes to have your resume reviewed.
  • If you need more guidance, schedule an appointment with a counselor by calling 212-854-5609. Note that during the early fall semester, there can be a long wait time to meet with a counselor. If you have a quick question or want someone to review your revised resume, you can return during walk-in hours.

Fri October 7. 2011 

Welcome to the Fair!

Are you interested in connecting to a group of over a hundred top engineering employers? You’re in excellent company – each year, the Engineering Consortium Career Fair attracts close to two thousand students from Columbia University and peer institutions! The students are united by the common goal of gaining career insights from professionals who are already working with their dream organizations, learning about upcoming opportunities, and professional networking. Some of the organizations may be familiar to you, from Apple and BlackRock to Twitter and Yahoo!, and hundreds more amazing opportunities await of which you may not even be aware!

Through this series, the Center for Career Education hopes to provide an accessible and process-focused resource to our students. In addition to an afternoon connecting to organizations, the ECCF should be preceded and followed by an ongoing process of professional development.  You will learn how to approach the process in the posts that follow: how to dress professionally, how to create or polish a resume, how to research companies, and how to most fully use the resources offered by the Center for Career Education. Stay tuned, bring your curiosity, and enjoy the series!