Despite the terrifying weather we’ve been having today, I spent the day up in the far north reaches of Waterloo at RIM Park, representing Sybase at the semi-annual Partnerships for Employment Job/Career Fair. The Fair is aimed at University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, Wilfred Laurier University, and Conestoga College students. Typically anywhere from 2500 – 4000 students and recent grads show up (and over 250 employers), but given the poor weather, most were expecting less people. Nevertheless, it was extremely busy – we won’t know the numbers for a while, but as the first of these fairs I’ve been to, it was very crowded and just a bustle of activity. There was minimal downtime when I wasn’t speaking with one student or another about possible positions they were interested in. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, made especially interesting as I was on the employer side of the booth. I have to thank the Sybase iAnywhere HR team both for giving me the opportunity and for their confidence in me to represent Sybase iAnywhere.
Another aspect of it was the learning experience. The more experienced members of the Sybase team walked me through different ways to judge the candidates I’d be speaking to. I know it’s typically unkind to judge people based on first impressions, but it’s a big part of hiring and screening candidates. It’s one thing to get a whole pile of resumÃ©s from a system like UWaterloo’s Jobmine, but being able to speak with them, face to face, allows one to get an immediate idea of character, regardless of what the resumÃ© states. From that, I also learned what things to say or ask (and equally, what things not to say) and how to approach a situation when you’re going in cold, without any prior introduction. I met my fair share of extremely competent and well-spoken students, and just as many on the other end of the scale. I’m sure a lot of it could be chalked up to nervousness – and seriously, how many opportunities do most students get at this sort of spontaneous one-on-one face time?
All in all, a great experience. It was a ton of fun to interact with people I don’t normally work with and do something that definitely wasn’t in my job description. Gotta love it!