I haven’t yet mentioned it but in The Real World, having recently completed my MBA, I am struggling to define my role and purpose – which means (let’s put it professionally) I am looking for my next career opportunity. Or in simple worlds, I am looking for a job.
During this extended time period of job hunting, I was fortunate enough to have been part of the organizing committee of the 16th European Career Fair (ECF); a career fair that takes place annually at MIT University in Boston. The 2012 ECF was between the 21st and 23rd of January and having just settled down I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with everyone.
I don’t really remember how I first heard about the ECF and the fact that they were looking to recruit new people. I now know that 70% of each year’s team is comprised by new members so it probably makes sense that I heard about it.
What I do remember is that it all started on a Tuesday in one of the last weeks of August 2011. It was the first team meeting, one of the many that would follow until January 21st 2012. Apparently, I was a stranger among strangers, in a unfamiliar environment (I had never had the chance – one can call it privilege – to walk on the infinite corridor of MIT looking for the right class to enter), and I really didn’t know what to expect.
But the Chairs (Katrin and Pallavi) along with the veteran team members (Chiara, Sven, Katya, Natasha and others) – student themselves from different Universities around Boston – knew exactly what they were doing, what was meant to happen and how the team would get there. All team members, being part of one or more different sub-teams (design, hotel, press etc) and at the same time responsible for inviting to the Fair a number of assigned companies were contributing (most of us without realizing it) to a perfectly and professionally organized Career Fair.
As time went by, Tuesday evenings for the ECF @ MIT became part of my weekly schedule. What was originally a bunch of strangers was slowly becoming a group of friends on a mission; to get companies (and candidates) to sign up for the fair. The question “how many companies signed up this week” was always a hot topic among us. And it was great to see the number rising week by week from 0 to 10 from 10 to 20 and eventually to more than a 100 and know that some of this is because of your own individual work.
Throughout the way it was always surprising to me how the old team members, even the ones who are not physically present, have managed to find a way to transfer their wisdom and experiences from one year’s team to the next.
Finally, after months of preparation, the day comes when the actual Career Fair Weekend (comprised of an Exhibition Day and two Interview Days) is just a few hours away. And on the night before (usually a Friday) is when magic happens. One cannot describe the feeling of seeing the MIT Johnson Truck converted from a simple gym to an Exhibition center within only a few hours (see video in the end).
Even if up to that point you were not part of the AV/Booklet/Shipping or whatever else team, you are now ready to help and contribute. It’s incredible to see people running around, setting up tables, chairs, curtains and anything else necessary in order to have everything ready for the following day. It is like pieces of a puzzle coming together. And this is part of the magic of the ECF. Even if you are not completely aware of it, you are contributing to something great. And it really feels so strange to be part of the magic, part of the team.
During the Fair Day, the magic continues and you feel really proud to be part of this. I personally felt like being a host to my own party. And as a host you have privileges and obligations. You get the chance to welcome the companies as if they are your guest, get the chance to talk to experienced professionals that you would never had the chance to talk to in other circumstances but at the same time as a host you have to make sure that everything runs smoothly and be ready to overcome any difficulties.
Concluding I really enjoyed being part of the 2012 ECF team. I made some good friends that I will hopefully stay in touch with, met some interesting people and invested my time to something that was completely worth it. A Career Fair organized by a group of students, for students across the globe who study in the United States.
Here are the Top 10 reasons to join the ECF next year:
- Get out your comfort zone by company calling
- Networking: ECF Team and company reps
- Be part of a big and recognizable event
- Get an MIT affiliated email address
- Enhance your resume
- Take responsibility
- Eat some free food
- Make new friends
- Have fun
- Other perks I cannot reveal