With more than 1,200 students in attendance at the fall Career and Internship Fair at Penn State Behrend, Malinda Miller knew she had to stand out.
However, the senior software engineering major was also wise enough to trust in her abilities.
“Being social and friendly is helpful, and I think previous internship experience and projects are important,” Miller said. “I think a lot of companies are more interested in your projects than your grades.”
Miller was one of 1,234 students who attended the fair Wednesday, Sept. 30, at the college. A total of 176 companies attended the fair, which was organized by the Academic and Career Planning Center and held in the college’s Junker Center. In terms of both students and companies, it was the largest career fair in the history of the college.
Compared to previous years, more companies also conducted on-campus interviews with students.
“We saw both an increase in company attendance at the fair and an increase in employer engagement over the past few years,” said Courtney Steding, associate director of the Academic and Career Planning Center. “Employers and students were optimistic while they connected to discuss possible internships, co-ops and full-time positions. The increase in employer attendance and positive feedback proves that it’s a great time to be a Behrend student.”
The high number of attendees affected how students presented their pitch. Miller chose to emphasize her past internships and projects.
Hunter Olsen, a junior nursing major who was looking to secure an internship, planned to emphasize his grades, but he also knew the importance of showing that he’s a well-rounded student.
“I want to show things other than just my grades. I want to show the experience I have as an intern and as a nurse’s aide, but I also want to emphasize my extracurricular activities like club lacrosse,” Olsen said.
Employees at FMC Technologies, one of the companies in attendance, would likely agree that Olsen’s strategy was a sound one.
“We like to see on their résumé that they’re active on campus or in their community, so we know they’re a team player,” said Catherine DiLuzio, a mechanical engineer with the company. “Yes, grades are important, but GPA isn’t everything.”