Job Fair Advice?

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    Hey All,

    Well, the job fair is approaching and I’m getting nervous but excited. I’m sure there are other people in the same boat and with similar questions, so I thought I’d ask the more experienced folks here for some suggestions and advice on the best way to get hired.

    First of all, simple questions:
    – How many people are usually at this thing?
    – How professionally should I dress? Should I remove/hide my piercings out (nose, tongue, and two cartilege piercings), or do they not care about that sort of thing?
    – Do I need to bring letters of reference with me, or just my resume?
    – I met a Raytheon recruiting agent at an informational job fair my school held a few months ago, and she told me I should come to the job fair and gave me her card. What’s the best way to make use of that contact without being annoying?
    – My research group shares an office with the “Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research,” and I know that some of the people I see walking around the halls on a regular basis have done science in Antartica. We’re also affiliated with the NSF in various ways. But I don’t know how/if to use any of these tenuous connections to my advantage…?

    The more complicated question:

    Much like many people here, I’m really enthusiastic about going to Antarctica, but don’t have any impressive qualifications. I graduated from college a few months ago (with a totally irrelevant BA in Philosophy and Sociology), and have basically put all my future plans re: grad school, moving, housing decisions for next year, etc. temporarily on hold, in the service of being flexible enough to go to Antarctica. I’ve coordinated the contract at my current job to run out just before I’d be going down, and have let my bosses know that I won’t be able to tell them whether or not I’ll want to renew it until after I find out about the Antarctic job.

    Of course, a lot of the reason I want to work down there is for the opportunity to travel to and experience such a breathtaking place. But if that were my main reason for going, I could – although it would be pretty dumb – pay a couple thousand bucks and take a cruise. One of the main reasons I want to go is honestly because I want to *work*. I’ve been locked up in the ivory tower of academia for the past five years, and as bizarre as it might sound to some, I’m craving a real job with set hours where I can work my ass off and do something with my hands. If I don’t get this job, I might just move to Philadelphia or somewhere and wash dishes for six months – but I’d much rather be washing dishes in Antarctica. ūüôā

    The problem is that I don’t really have any credentials. I’m only 22. I did food service and manual labor jobs in highschool, but that was years ago, so I’m not sure if it will count for anything? I’ve been working at the same research assistant job for the past three years. On the one hand, I’ve set my schedule such that I routinely work 9 – 12 hour days, and I’ve become quite comfortable with that. On the other hand, it’s a cushy office job doing mostly data-entry and research analysis…and I’m not sure how to make that seem applicable to anything I could do for Raytheon. I also did some work for a couple of cleaning services earlier this year – mostly trying to get a breadth of different experiences that I could put on my resume – but they were just housecleaning and not the industrial janitorial stuff that Raytheon says they prefer.

    Other factors: I’ve lived (in Australia, Japan, Ireland) and travelled (all over the place) abroad ever since I was a kid, so adjusting to new environements and cultures is something that comes pretty quickly and naturally to me. I normally get on well with people, I’m pretty good at finding a balance between the need for human contact and the need for personal boundaries when you’re confined to an enclosed space with other people for a long time. (And I even speak a bit of Kiwi. *g*)

    Basically, my dilemma is that on a personal-qualities level, I think I’d be a pretty good fit for the program, I’d be happy to take any job they’re willing to offer me, and I’m ready and willing to learn. But on paper, I don’t look like much. So I’m not sure the best way to get this stuff across to the hiring managers… Any thoughts?

    Someone else on the board mentioned that they’d written an essay about why they wanted to go, and I wondered if that would be a good idea or if it would even get read?

    Any other suggestions or advice people have – about resumes, job fair specifics, how to talk to people, what jobs to apply for, or anything really, would be so, so, so verymuch appreciated. ūüôā


    Oh! One more question. Is it best to go to the first or the second day of the job fair (or both)?

    Sorry the previous post was such a novel… :- Thanks for taking the time to read.

    Big V

    wow, I think you’re stressing about this too much–especially if your fine with a dishwashing position.¬† although, it did take me alot longer to get “in” than i ever thought it would.¬† go to the job fair, talk to everyone (both days), hand out your resume.¬† smile, take out your piercings, don’t overdress (not a¬†suit–maybe khakis and a nice shirt) and stress that fact that you no how to work long hours and you’re willing to bust your hiney to be here.
    then, get everyones card from them and start calling them all about a week after the job fair, weekly until you hear something.¬† you have to be persistant but not a psycho about it.¬† also, i highly recommend going for something a little better than dishwasher–like a janitor, general assistant or shuttle driver would be much, much, much better.¬†
    good luck!
    Big V (currently on the ice)


    Big V is right – follow her advice… I was as stressed as you are when I was applying for the first time. I have one of those meaningless college degrees, but lots of life experience. I found that my perciverience at the job fair (I went both days) helped me get a job. Follow all leads when you get there. Janitor positions are better than DA (dishwashers) positions, but like Big said, go for all things: GA (general assistant), Shuttle Driver, or Solid Waste Technition are all good first year jobs.

    Good luck,


    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]Hello,[/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]Since you wrote a novel, mine has ended up the same in an effort to address many of your questions.  Feel free to bring this to bed if you happen to have difficulty getting to sleep![/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]It’s quite normal to be a little on edge & have heaps of questions – just try to relax and be yourself while still conveying your enthusiasm.¬† The simple fact that you’re thinking so much about how to approach the job fair is a good sign.[/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]Expect it to be crowded – I’d suggest arriving relatively early and planning to spend a large portion of the day.¬† With any job,¬† I prefer to make an impression before the stacks of applicant resumes become too high.¬† Go the first day and express that you will be available the second if they would like to speak with you further.[/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]Dress as professionally as you are comfortable.¬† Be prepared to see others show up very casually, including baseball caps and piercings, though I’ll never understand why.¬† Personally, I¬†always shoot for a step nicer than most – as someone already said, khakis & nice oxford are fine for this setting.[/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p][/font:joc5lm2p] 
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]Have MANY copies of your resume available, making sure to include an email address which you plan to check regularly.  I had a separate page with reference contact info, which I only provided to those managers expressing a definite interest in hiring me.[/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]As for the recruiter you previously met, I’d send a casual cover letter type email with your resume this week, mentioning that you look forward to meeting them in person at the job fair.¬† Then, come up with a few brief questions so that you have reason to touch base via telephone a few days beforehand.¬† Anything differentiating you from the masses by triggering recognition when your name crosses a desk is a good thing.[/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]You mentioned that you want to work and that you don’t mind manual labor.¬† That being the case, I’d strongly suggest the general assistant (GA) position over that of a dishwasher (DA).¬† Don’t limit yourself too much, though – read through all of the job descriptions & keep in mind that ALL of the qualifications are pretty flexible & negotiable.¬† Pick a few “safety” jobs but also go for some better positions, as well as remaining open to suggestions from the hiring managers.[/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]As I am sure you can imagine, there are many options¬† –¬†describing all variations of available positions is nearly impossible in online descriptions.¬† If you express enthusiasm, flexibility, versatility and a willingness to learn, you could end up with something far better than you see listed.[/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]Above all else, be persistent and¬†positive – don’t forget to follow up with the traditional thank you notes as if these were normal job interviews.¬† [/font:joc5lm2p][font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]Good luck, have fun & don’t forget to get out and enjoy yourself a little while you’re there![/font:joc5lm2p]
    [font=Geneva, Arial, Sans-serif:joc5lm2p]Cheers,


    Lots to cover here. Thanks to the others for their input. I’ll just add a few comments.
    First of all treat this as you would any job interview. How¬† you look, act, dress, speak etc are all going to be important. Dress very nice, but maybe not a suit and tie unless you are going for upper management somewhere. I’m guessing most won’t be in a suit. You want to portray yourself as a positive hard worker that can benefit the program. You don’t want your dress to say otherwise. Ditch the piercings for the interviews. Force people to look at you and your abilities¬† and attitudes not your dress.
    By all means get in touch with the recruiter from your school before you go down. Then see him again at the fair. It might not get you an in but you might get looked at a little harder if they remember you.
    I’d mention the arctic research¬†connection and nsf connection in passing to everyone. Who knows it might help land you one of the science jobs. It won’t help you be a DA.
    What will help being a DA is that you’ve done it in the past. If you get¬†looked at¬†be prepared for a multi hour phone interview about your previous experience. Being a DA is grueling. Most hate it. Some don’t make it through the season. Washing dishes is far harder than most people think. On the other hand people who have done it before and know what they are getting into generally do OK. It’s a great way to get better jobs here, because all of the people you talk to will see you in the dish window. If you are bright and cheery as a DA you’ll do fine elsewhere. Last summer one of the DAs trained in the power plant in his spare time. He now has a winter contract as an operator.
    good luck


    It looks like everyone beat me to the pile for providing advice. A bit sad, really, robs me of the chance to sound like I actually know something…

    I’ll echo the fact that you should apply to and for everything. You may think that you don’t qualify but it sounds like you could stretch data entry experience into a materials person job at McMurdo or something like that. I gave it a shot (graphic design experience and general business experience) and was offered a slot two years ago. Probably would’ve taken it too but fortune lent me a (much more poorly paid, much more rewarding) position at the South Pole.

    If you feel you need to go the Dining Attendant route (or want to) I’d definitely recommend the Pole. The galley is generally a riot to work with, the sympathy level for the DA’s is quite high, volunteers generally flood the dishroom and the schedules the DA’s work tend to leave a lot of space to volunteer with other departments. This comes in handy if you’re looking to return or are interested in grabbing a winter position last minute.

    General Assistants at the Pole tend to have some previous fire crew/trail crew/construction experience, but that isn’t always the case. You might also look into a Work Order Planner position or something similar – gets back to the data entry shindig. Janitorial at Pole seems to be alright too (pays a bit better than GA, Prep Cook, or DA). Cargo and Materials (Ops) are also needing to hire a good number of folk this year and even if you don’t have the experience they list, give them a shot – they’re looking for intelligent, multi-tasking folk. Try the Materialsperson and Cargo Coordinator jobs.

    I don’t know if you’re interested in any station in particular but I’m (if it’s not already obvious) a huge fan of the community at the South Pole. It sometimes takes a bit more to get down there but the hiring managers often take enthusiasm and a good person into high account – we gaurd our home carefully… Mcmurdites might kill me for saying this but between the altitude (about 10,000 feet), the weather (makes mactown feel warm), and the long weeks (we tend to go over the contracted hours to get done what needs to get done) the Pole works harder. We play well enough to take the edge off though and the community that forms is among the best.

    Alas, I have rambled into a novel as well. Best of luck!


    Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the great advice!
    (I think it’s kind of interesting that people seemed to mistake me for a guy. Not that I mind. ūüôā I’m just curious if it’s something about how I write.)

    Anyway, I sent my resume to HR, talked to my contact briefly a couple of days ago, and applied for several jobs online (DA, Janitor, Postal Clerk, and a few Materials related positions.) I’m crashing at a friend’s place in Denver tonight, and tomorrow I’ll go to the job fair and try my winning smile luck.

    Nervous nervous, but also looking forward to it. I’ll let you all know how it turns out. Thanks again!

    – Rebecca

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