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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Time to break out the blazers because Career Showcase is approaching. Next Tuesday students will be running back and forth between classes and the O’Connell Center, hoping to make that one life-changing connection. It’s the perfect opportunity to talk to your dream company, and it can feel like your one chance at a big break. But then the nerves start to set in and the doubts in the back of your mind creep in.

Career Showcase is not the end-all-be-all to a lifetime of success. It’s a stepping stone, and honestly, a small one. At worst, the showcase is practice for interviewing and networking, and at best you can get a leg-up in your career. But it’s only one day. The pressure to perform can be overwhelming, especially when surrounded by business majors who learned how to interview before they could walk. It’s easy to compare yourself to every qualified student who walks through the door.

We feel it, too, the need to make a good impression. It’s natural to want to seem perfect, to say the right things and to impress employers. However, a small slip-up in conversation or bad hair day can feel like one of the worst mistakes of your life. First impressions are everything, or so we’ve been told. Every employer in that showcase knows exactly how you feel; they were all 20 years old and inexperienced at one point. Employers are there to talk to and get to know you, not ridicule you.

This isn’t to say you should show up with a crumpled resume and untucked shirt. Be as prepared as you can be, but don’t add extra pressure to yourself and your experience at the showcase. Opportunities pop up every day. They’re sitting next to you in lecture, where you just met your next study buddy or on a flier in Turlington about open auditions for sketch comedy.

Every action you take and every experience you come across isn’t going to happen while you have your elevator pitch rehearsed and perfected in the back of your mind. Some will be organic and lead you to opportunities you never even knew you wanted. Your lab partner could be working on your dream research in 20 years, so keep their number saved.

Having the perfect outfit and cover letter isn’t necessarily your ticket to success. It’s the connections you make in your day-to-day life that can lead to the best career opportunities. A couple of days out of a semester dedicated to networking isn’t going to cut it. It’s a great opportunity, but to believe it’s your one chance at making it big is a mistake.

We tend to put an insurmountable amount of pressure on our shoulders to be the best version of ourselves, especially during Career Showcase, and that’s understandable. The pressure means you care about your end goals. However, it’s a good idea to remember that a mistake isn’t going to mean the end of a career you haven’t even started. When we put this pressure on ourselves we start to lose what makes us uniquely us. Nerves and jitters are sometimes unavoidable, but in case you make a less than stellar impression, there’s always the possibility you’ll find something better tomorrow.

Work on making connections with your classmates, professors and counselors. We make mistakes; that’s not news. But in the grand scheme of your college years or even your life, they’re just stories. You may have employers falling to your feet at Career Day or maybe you make a less than stellar impression. Either way, it’s one day out of the semester. Your goals don’t expire after one semester, they take time to learn, and however long that takes is up to you. Seize every opportunity you can find, wherever you find it.

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