Penn State students find opportunities on campus to begin a professional career. At University Park, for example, many colleges offer career fairs for students to meet recruiters, mock interviews to refine student introductions, and résumé review and feedback sessions.
This is also possible at the campus-wide level in the Division of Student Affairs Career Services. The summary below can help orient students:
1. Résumé: The purpose of the résumé is to quickly and effectively communicate an individual's unique strengths to a target organization. The résumé "advertisement" is "consumed" in less than twenty seconds. It is rare, in my experience, for an individual to craft a "perfect résumé" absent outside feedback. My suggestion is to begin with a college (e.g., IST Résumé Samples) or university template, or edit one at Microsoft Office. Next, present the résumé for feedback to many people who know you (e.g., family, faculty) AND who know résumés (e.g., career counselors, recruiters). Since it is your résumé, you decide which recommendations to actually implement. The résumé is a work in progress that is never fully done, especially as new skills and experiences are added. Thus, expect to continue making improvements to your résumé in perpetuity.
2. Career Fairs: The purpose of the career fair is to connect students with organizations that have full time, co-op (two semester) and intern (one semester) employment opportunities. Multiple University Park career fairs are offered by Student Affairs at the beginning of each semester. In addition, some departments (e.g., Smeal's Supply Chain) and colleges (e.g., IST's Fall ProExpo and Spring Future Forum) may also host career fairs for their students.
3. Strategy: The purpose of a strategy is to prepare the student prior to meeting recruiters. The strategy has two parts: first, learn about the company, and second, practice promoting the student's unique strengths. The former can be found at company websites, and the latter through Penn State "30-Second Introduction" tips. The introduction, and the résumé objective, quickly "qualify" organizations by explaining the student's employment objective (e.g., full time, co-op, internship), availability date to begin employment, and interest or degree. If any of these do not meet an organization's need, the student can immediately move on to the next organization.
4. Advocate Yourself: The purpose of meeting recruiters in person is to exude confidence in you (i.e., the "product"). Confidence, passion and enthusiasm, as every advertising pitchman knows, are infectious. Unfortunately, the absence of these is infectious in a bad way. Job candidates need to know two or three top personal strengths (e.g., refer to these nine action verb categories for ideas), and have several personal supporting stories ready (i.e., consider using the S.T.A.R. model). Since "practice makes perfect," practice "the pitch" alone (e.g., in front of a mirror), with friends, and counselors. Attend as many career fairs as possible to practice "live" with recruiters. In time the handshake, eye contact, voice, body language, and stories will all combine to your maximum benefit.
5. GPA: The purpose of GPA is to summarize classroom performance given the context of a student's unique undergraduate commitments. GPA (grade point average) is not a measure of intelligence (i.e., all college students are intelligent). It is easy to misconstrue many metrics in life, including GPA. In my opinion, the GPA does not summarize hire criteria such as creativity or passion. GPA is important, but it is only part of a unique student's total "package." A student that has worked hard and been active should never feel inferior because of a GPA. A recruiter from a major technical company laughed and agreed when I shared this common student misunderstanding. He told me they had just hired a student with a 2.7/4.0 GPA, because of excellence in the student's "total package."