Career Fair Tips for BME Majors

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BioMedical Mondays 015
Author: Hamza Waheed

Ever since the Great Recession in 2008, the U.S. economy has changed.  Recovery has been much slower when compared to previous recessions.  Businesses are  more picky about who they higher. But worst of all, the Great Recession has created a buyers market.  This is a situation where the buyer (in this case, the employer) has the benefit, while the seller (the job seeker) is at a massive disadvantage.  Because of the shift in the job market, attending career fairs for young people is more important than ever.  Especially when it comes to finding a job in biomedical engineering.  This is because there are fewer jobs for BME majors when compared to mechanical, electrical, civil, and computer science.  Here are five actions BME majors can take to improve their success at a career fair.

  1. Research: This is by far the most important action for BME majors.  You have to know what the company sells, their mission statement, their recent wins and losses, and their clients.  The second you ask a recruiter about what the company sells, what the company is, or any questions around those lines - you have lost.  It shows that you are unprepared.  However, what is an even bigger mistake is asking what positions are open.  You must know what positions are being recruited for before you talk to the recruiter.  If you do not, then you are wasting their time and yours.  

  2. Make a plan For BME majors, it is very easy to predict where people of the same major will be going.  Since BME is health and health related, all BME majors will being going to any company that makes products in these fields.  These companies include, but are not limited to, Medtronic's, BD, Baxter International, etc.  Know this and do whatever it takes to outsmart your competition.  Figure out which companies you will talk to, what information you need to get out of the recruiters, and what to say afterwards when you follow up.  

  3. Figure out what everyone else is doing: Find out what everyone else is doing, and don't do it.  The reason being is because you will look like everyone else if you do.  There are endless amounts of people wanting that position.  The bottom line is to stand out.  Get the recruiter's business cards, and network with them as effectively as possible.  However, a bigger example of not doing what everyone else does is writing a letter.  Every person at a career fair that follows up sends an email.  However, you should not do this just because it is convenient.  Instead, send a letter to the recruiter thanking him or her for their time.  Very few people receive letters these days and you will definitely stand out.

  4. Start Early: BME majors need to be at career fairs starting freshmen year.  This is because it takes time to find out what errors are being made and eliminate them.  If you start going to career fairs your junior year, it may be too late. You may not have enough practice, so start early.

  5. Learn to Sell: BME majors, and every single college major, often commits this mistake when searching jobs.  They do not consider themselves as salespeople.  Part of the reason may be because of the stigma of sales people being sleazy or unethical.  Truth is, in life, sales is everything and every person is a salesperson, whether they think of themselves as one or not. You must be able to articulate your value to a company clearly and why you are the best fit.  One way to practice this is by pouring water in a glass.  Have someone ask you this question: “You have two options right now, either sell yourself or sell the glass of water.  Which one are you going to pick and you have one minute.”  Always pick yourself.  You can make it even more challenging by selling the glass of water.  In order to see how you can improve, check out Grant Cardone’s reality TV show, "Whatever It Takes".  This is an exercise he deployed to figure out how could communicate and whether someone could sell or not.  This is a good exercise, because the water is metaphorical to every job seeker.  A job seeker is a glass of water. A company can get them from anywhere around the U.S. and the world, just like you can get a glass of water from anywhere.  If you master sales, you will always have work, regardless of the state of the economy.

These are the five tips every BME major must do in order to succeed at a career fair.  If you follow  these tips, you are on to your way to success.  If you can not sell yourself or have not done any these tips, you have work to do.  With enough work and perseverance, you can turn your luck around and win in this new and challenging economy.

Good luck!