As mentioned in part 1 from April 4th, we had the opportunity to attend a few career fairs last month. The first being Penn State’s career day, hosted by the Stuckeman school of Architecture, which was talked about in part 1. The second event was Philadelphia University’s Design Expo, which consisted of students enrolled in interior design, landscape architecture, sustainable design, industrial design, and similar majors in addition to those in their architecture program.
Being a 2014 graduate of PhilaU (as we call it), it was a great experience to come back to my alma mater and see where I spent most of my waking hours only a few short years ago. Before registration started for the design expo, I visited a few faculty members, got up to speed with how the program has evolved in the last few years, and took another walk down memory lane as I passed through the studio on my way to register for the expo.
As I entered the gym, there were almost 100 tables spread across the room, each one numbered and signed to identify the company represented. On the side of the gym were well over 200 students occupying the bleachers in their formal attire. Let me tell you, as exciting as it was to sit on the OTHER side of the table that day, it was a bit overwhelming at the number of students who showed up early. I remember thinking to myself “If that’s the number of students that arrived 30 minutes before the first time slot, how many more would be coming?” Once it was time to begin, our host stood up front and greeted everyone, explained the procession of events for the day, and then all the action started. The only way I could describe the expo would be to call it “employment speed dating,” and I know you’re probably laughing to yourself at the mental image that appears. Trust me, that’s really how it went down. It was fast-paced, there was an energy in the room, and everyone had their resumes and portfolios on hand. When 20 minutes had passed, the MC would announce that it was time to move on to the next session. We would say our “thank you’s” and “goodbye’s” and greet the next student as they made their way to our table and sat down for their 20 minutes.
We met with both undergraduate and graduate students that day. When looking at their portfolios during our brief meetings, I kept wondering when they found time to put them together. Many had impressive renderings, were easy to follow, and were excited when talking about the work they produced. I remember sitting in their seat just a few years ago, and how events like these forced me to put together a collection of my design work and get comfortable talking about myself to potential employers. Although it’s fast-paced and a bit on the noisy side (to be fair, gymnasiums never have the greatest acoustics), it was a great experience for us as a company and we hope the students equally benefitted from the event.
When it was all said and done, we enjoyed our day at PhilaU. We left with a stack of resumes to review in greater depth, and a greater appreciation of the time students put into their portfolios. As the summer approaches, we look forward to extending an internship offer to a student from one of the career fairs we attended. That two-way street is great for continuing our own education in the office as we learn about new software and methods being taught in college, and in turn we get to pass on some of our knowledge to someone just starting to get their feet wet, so-to-speak.
Photo Credit: Philadelphia University