Advice from a Fulton Schools alum turned recruiter — Joyce’s Career Tip of the Week

ThermoFisher Intern flierIn my recent columns, I’ve been writing about preparing for the upcoming career fairs. This week, I am delighted to introduce you to our guest blogger, Nathan Jack, senior project manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Carlsbad, California. Jack earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering from the Fulton Schools in 2013 and 2014, respectively. He will be part of his company’s recruiting team at the Fulton Schools Career Fair on Wednesday, February 21, 2018.

Returning to my desert roots … to recruit Sun Devils!

Hi fellow Fulton Schools engineers! As an ASU/Fulton Engineering Alumnus and now part-time recruiter with a global biotech company, I’ve been given an opportunity to contrast my former experiences as a student with those of a recruiter. By sharing my thoughts and approaches, I hope to get you to think beyond just the résumé or job interview. Those are merely tools to market yourself to employers. Amidst all the preparation and career advice — both of which are good — it can be easy to get lost in all the information. My hope is to give you simple, practical advice that helps you organize your approach and perspective before meeting with prospective employers.

My career fair approach as a student:

When I was a student, I viewed career fairs as an opportunity for me to interview prospective employers and to determine if I wanted to work for their organizations. Then, if I had a few different opportunities based on fit, I could evaluate the pros and cons of each option

Am I interested in what the company does? I always researched the companies prior to attending career fairs to learn about their products and services. If I didn’t understand or wasn’t captivated by the company’s mission and product offering, I crossed them off my list. I saw my time as a limited resource and didn’t want to customize my résumé or prepare questions if I couldn’t honestly get motivated by the company’s mission.

What are the roles for which they are they recruiting? I tried to research and learn what types of talent each particular company was seeking. Are the positions primarily technical? General business analyst positions? I would go to the company’s career website and look up full-time roles and read job descriptions. This can give you an idea of company culture and the skills they prioritize.

What do the employees think about the company? I would always make a point to ask what the recruiter or employees appreciated about the company and why they continued to work there. It is easy to spot a recruiter giving a canned response, but you can also tell when an employee genuinely cares about the work they do. To get better responses and insight, be specific on what you ask for: such as company culture, training, advancement opportunities, etc. Try to see whether they give you a short answer or if they spend some time going into detail. You will learn more from the people that work at the company than any promotional material.

Ultimately, my primary focus was on what the company did, and secondly, what I could do for a prospective employer. Finally, I considered the experience that I could take away from the internship that would benefit me in future jobs. I kept my approach simple and made the most of my three summer internships.

My career fair approach as a recruiter:

When I come to a career fair to recruit engineers, I expect to find analytically minded individuals that can demonstrate their ability to solve problems. But there are also a few other things I look for:

Are you genuinely interested in my company? One of my biggest pet peeves is also, fortunately, the easiest to correct. Take time to research my company and express your genuine interest in why you want to work for us. If you didn’t take the time to Google our products, open positions, or general industry information, you force me to become a human commercial and make me question how prepared you will be at your job if we do choose to hire you.

Do you have coursework or internships with skills that translate to our open positions? As an employer, I am taking a calculated risk based on the information from your résumé and our interaction. I want to know what you have worked on and how you succeeded so I can determine whether those skills are a good fit for the roles we have. I don’t expect students to have saved $1 million on productivity improvement projects or design the next smartphone. But I do expect you to show me the fundamental analytical and technical skills you use to solve problems. You may not have practiced them in the context that my company will ask you to, but as long as the skills you have translate easily, I am confident of your success.

How well will you work on my team? When I say teamwork is critical, it is more than a cliché. I want to recruit students who demonstrate they can self-start and work independently, while also working well alongside others. Engineering students are often frustrated by group projects (and I can certainly relate!). But in reality, a lot of work done in my company is with cross-functional teams that depend on each other for their expertise.

While time in a career fair setting is limited, I look for students with the ability to communicate well, proven and translatable skills, and who express a legitimate desire for working at my company. If you have all of that, I would love to offer you a job!


Joyce Donahue is a career counselor in the Fulton Schools Career Center.  She is a nationally certified career counselor and holds “Master Career Counselor” membership status in the National Career Development Association.