“I thought [the career fair] was just the farmer’s market expanded,” one shocked student said while exiting White Plaza last week. The anonymous quote sent to the popular Facebook page, “Things Overheard at Stanford,” renders a quite accurate image of large-scale career fairs at Stanford. Renamed “Venture” events this year, career fairs are widely known for drawing large crowds and giving out tons of free gear.
Despite having multiple opportunities to attend a career fair, I haven’t because I’ve always had class (and embarrassingly felt too intimidated to go), yet I’m still curious about the buzzing atmosphere and varying functions of the events. Are they the ultimate networking opportunity? Can you actually land a job or internship? Do freshmen only go for the free stuff? Do they have booths for non-STEM majors?
Week 2’s VentureSU, formerly known as the Fall Career Fair, was just one of 12 events offered on Stanford’s campus this year. While some target specific audiences like graduate students, others have a theme like social impact. The general fall and spring Venture events feature a range of company types including medical, technological, entrepreneurial and educational. Amy Ma ’21 was glad to see diversity among the 250+ booths.
“Career fair was awesome! There [were] so many opportunities to get more information about internships with so many diverse companies,” she said. “I was happy to see medical companies and nonprofits in addition to the tech companies that I expected to see at Stanford’s career fair given the geography of Silicon Valley.”
Even though Ma went for the experience, she admitted the free stuff was a nice addition. Who wouldn’t want to go back to the dorm with a backpack loaded with t-shirts, stickers, water bottles and headphones?
But for upperclassmen, going to a career fair has new meaning with graduation on the horizon. Zander Stroud ’19 and Tim Lann ’19 attended the Computer Forum Fair and VentureSU with different intentions and experiences.
“I found the atmosphere of the Computer Forum career fair to be pretty tense. Most people in line were stressed, and there was a lot of frustration being voiced about how few people were being let in,” Zander said. “I [just] hoped to meet people from tech companies to try to land an internship for the upcoming summer.”
In contrast, Tim found the outside atmosphere of VentureSU to be more relaxed than in past years. “There seemed to be much less resume dumping and more authentic conversations happening,” he said. “I [went and browsed] around to see if any company seemed really interesting. I wasn’t looking to find a dream job or even an internship at the fair. I just wanted to see who impressed me with their mission and work.”
From a mere handful of students, it’s safe to say that going to one of Stanford’s dozen on-campus Venture events is a unique experience for everyone. Though if I want to get my own taste of the career fairs, I guess I’ll just have to skip class and muster up some courage. The freebies are good incentives, too.
Contact Emily Schmidt at egs1997 ‘at’ stanford.edu.