Lindsey tries: Attending free pen day (a.k.a. Career Conference)

By Lindsey Rothering —

“Lindsey Tries” documents the misadventures of a 22-year-old who gets overly excited about free stuff.

Ah, the career conference. So many resumes, so many ironed shirts, so many free pens!  At my previous university, I would attend every semester’s career fair just to score free stuff. Whether it was pens, pizza cutters, I didn’t care! I threw it all into my Career Fair swag bag. In fact, my friends and I didn’t even think of it as the career fair, we thought of it as “Free Pen Day.”

This year, I was faced with the realization that with a new school comes new standards for their career fair, starting with a new name. Here, they call it a “Career Conference,” and one professor of mine even made it required to attend! Required! He also said we had to talk to two employers! I couldn’t believe it. I have spent semesters mastering the art of blending in with people actually interested in the company, grabbing a free item and then scampering off like a spooked deer. This year, things were going to have to change.

After looking at the list of employers going to be there, I had a plan in mind.  Since no employer is going to say, “Oh, you graduate in two and a half years? Cool, let’s keep talking!” I figured my best plan of attack was to ask a few simple questions, grab a pen and get the hell out of there. I also decided that the two companies I would talk to would be food companies. Maybe they’d have free samples!

Once at the Career Conference, I became even more of a deer in the headlights when I realized just how big of a deal this conference really was. I thought I was being fancy by wearing a solid-colored cardigan, but boy was I wrong! Seeing guys with ties and ladies in blazers, my 20/20 hindsight kicked in: this is not the place for your cat-print Vans shoes.

After making a fool of myself in front of several businesses (what do you mean, MCD doesn’t mean McDonald’s? Why don’t they realize how hilarious their invention of scented glue is?), I decided to call it quits. I left with a few pens, a can koozie, and a little less of my dignity.

Even though this semester’s Career Conference was a fail on the free stuff front, there is a silver lining: there’s another conference in the spring. And I am fully prepared to blend and scamper.

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