I work full time as a research assistant for a university, and also take graduate classes part time. I'd like to start a job search. The university will hold a career fair soon. Sounds like a good opportunity.
I don't really know what kinds of positions my skills qualify me for. (See here
for my skills.) I do know that I am not an engineering student. I am not a computer science student. I am not a biologist, chemist, or physicist. That covers many of the positions on offer at the fair. Nontechnical positions sound vague and opaque to me. "Implementation consultant"? I want someone to explain to me what's available before I can want it.
I visited the career center twice to get a sense of direction. Both times I started by asking: what jobs do my existing skills qualify me for? how do I develop a list of employers that are hiring for these positions?
My hope was that the counselors would help me discover potential good fits with employers I have overlooked.
Both counselors deflected my direct questions and launched into scripts I've heard before from other career counselors (i.e., at my alma mater). One focused on my undergraduate second major in anthropology (which I haven't done anything with since graduating) and told me the old chestnut about a humanities degree qualifying me for any job I want and "writing my own job description." The other offered resume formatting advice and introduced me to such insider resources as the Washington Post jobs section and Idealist.org. She also suggested that I look into "consulting firms and think tanks," but had a hard time suggesting resources for making a list of these. Also, that's a very vague suggestion.
Both counselors struck me as well-meaning but clueless. They seemed to know little about specific career fields or area employers. Also, both of them discouraged me from visiting the fair, explaining that employers will mostly expect undergraduate applicants from specific majors. This statement surprised me a lot.
- How do I approach a career fair when I have a hard time pitching my training and experience to employers?
- How do I approach a career fair when I'm not a typical graduating senior in a traditional technical discipline?
- Is there anything I can say or ask for at the university career center to develop a better sense of how my existing skills map onto actual jobs?
- Where else can I find a professional mentor who can answer the questions I have?
Thanks for suggestions.