Students build connections at career fairs

Student launches career through successful networking

Have you thought about what you’re going to do after college? If you haven’t, that’s OK, it’s never too late to get the resources you need to help with your career planning. Illinois has many resources to aid in your professional career journey. On campus, there is The Career Center, which is where you can discover what options you have, get insight on what you like, and find out what opportunities are available that tailor to your specific passion(s). LAS’ Life + Career Design Lab has numerous opportunities that will help students get the experiences they need in order to be successful in their future endeavors. To give you a chance to build a more personal connection with companies and recruiters, LAS and other colleges on campus host career and internship fairs. By engaging in these opportunities, it will help you learn to network and to see if your particular field of interest is something that’s really right for you. 

Aniekan Umoren is a senior majoring in economics and has a career interest in investment banking. He described career fairs as being “nothing but a great learning experience.” As a freshman and sophomore, it seemed to be intimidating going to them, because it’s difficult to know “what to ask the recruiter.” Aniekan says receiving his first rejection from an opportunity he believed he was going to get was a very “humbling experience.” It is important that after you are rejected, you “put in the work” so you can go back to that recruiter, maybe a year or two later, and show them how much you have improved your skills. Recruiters want to see that you’ve gone back to the classroom or your field of interest and applied yourself. 

To prepare for career fairs and improve his skills, he utilized the resources around him. He connected with his peers who had experience with these companies to review some of their questions for the recruiters. Aniekan says that it was really important to do “research on the company and figure out where they needed help and what direction the company was going in.” Keeping an eye on job applications and deadlines is crucial to securing the job you want. Something that helped Aniekan was letting the recruiter know that he had applied for the job and also sending a copy of his resume, so they would have a “record of him.” This lets the recruiter know how invested you are and that you are truly interested in the position.

Throughout this process, networking is important because “you never know who you may meet that can give you an opportunity.” Aniekan says if there is one thing that he has learned it’s that “the people you connect with are probably going to be the reason that you receive a job opportunity, so make each connection memorable.” Networking helped him to intern at Goldman Sachs, a leading global investment banking, securities, and investment management firm. Here he worked as a financial analyst. Aniekan was able to learn about “corporate culture and what it’s like to work for a large company.” It was imperative that he was quick on his feet and represented himself and his work in the highest regard. 

When applying for a job at Goldman Sachs, he went through an interview process that consisted of a video interview, an assessment, and a final interview at the company’s firm. When interviewing, make sure you put your best foot forward by being knowledgeable about the company, what its goals are, and what you can bring to the table. After graduation Aniekan plans to move to Dallas, Texas, to work fulltime for Goldman Sachs.

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Amber Redmond