How to Get a Job at GHC
09 Sep 2017
As a student from a small, under the radar university, my job seeking strategy was to go hard at conference career fairs every year. Companies I wanted to work for didn’t come to my college career fair, so I had to go to them! Conference career fairs worked out well for me, so I wanted to share some tips to help you make the most of this year’s opportunities. Here’s a list of the onsite interviews I’ve done at conferences over the past three years:
- Facebook (2015, 2016 for full time role)
- Two Sigma (2016 for full time role)
- Square (2015)
- Microsoft (2015)
- Dell (2015)
- Bloomberg (2015, accepted internship offer)
- Visa (2014, accepted internship offer)
- Intel (2014)
- Cisco (2014)
These tips are going to be GHC specific to keep things simple, but most of them apply to any tech conference with a career fair. If you have any questions about my SWE experience, feel free to reach out!
Before the conference
Put your resume in the resume database
This is a great tip even if you’re not attending – companies will contact you anyways! I was contacted by Dell and Square pre-GHC to set up interviews because I submitted my resume. Here’s this year’s resume database. Just make sure your email and phone number are correct so they have a way to contact you!
Print 50+ copies of your resume
You’ll give out a resume to every company you talk to, so make sure you have more than enough! It is expensive to print at the Kinko’s inside of the convention center, especially if your resume includes color. There’s also a huge line of others trying to do the same thing. There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing that everyone else is filling up interview slots while you’re in line to print something.
This is probably a good time to talk about business cards. I have printed them every year, hated how they looked, and never used them anyways. They are really handy for networking and entering raffles, but not necessary for job seeking. As long as your email and phone number appear on your resume, having a business card is preferred, but optional.
Get your bag and folder game on lock
This is more of an optional step, but it really helped me feel confident and comfortable at the conference. Invest in a leather portfolio or at least a new 40 cent folder from Walmart to keep your resumes neat and clean. Bringing a large tote is helpful for holding your folder and whatever swag you get from interviews. It helps avoid back to back interview awkwardness when you can keep the swag from interview 1 out of sight from interview 2. Helpful things to keep in your bag for a state of constant job interview:
- Stain remover stick
- Sweater or jacket
- Makeup essentials
- Portable charger
Should you bring your computer? It’s up to you, but I probably wouldn’t if it’s heavy. It is exhausting to carry it around all day, especially on Day 1. It can come in handy though. I had a pair programming interview with Square that I used my computer for one year, so it was helpful for that. It’s also helpful to have if your phone runs out of power. Sometimes I would use my computer to study for interviews in a nearby cafe before they happened.
Pack comfortable, business casual clothing
GHC is awesome because there is no dress code. There are just as many people wearing dresses as there are t-shirts and jeans. If you’re interviewing, I think business casual is the way to go. Also, comfortable shoes only! GHC is not the time to break out your brand new heels. You will be doing so much walking and standing while exploring the conference. The last thing you need during a technical interview for your dream job is sore, blistered feet.
Research the companies
I always dreaded this step for some reason, but it makes a huge difference. My research process:
- See who’s coming this year. Check out the floor map of this year’s GHC. Click on “Exhibitor List” to see all of the companies in alphabetical order.
- Look up every company coming that you haven’t heard of. Write down all of the companies you have any interest in. Add a reason why you’re interested to help you remember why you want to talk to them at the conference.
- Organize your interest list by priority
Know that you can say no to companies who want to pre-schedule a GHC interview
Occasionally, you will interview with a company early in the school year and mention that you will be attending GHC during the interview process. They may try to reschedule one of your phone screens to be in person at GHC. Some people love this, some people are really stressed by this. Just know that the ball is in your court on this one. If you feel more comfortable interviewing over the phone, don’t feel pressured to accept the GHC interview.
During the conference
Go hard on Day 1
Day 1 opening is basically a polite version of Black Friday at Walmart. Onsite interview slots fill up fast, so be sure to visit your high interest companies within a few hours of the doors opening. My game plan was always to do a quick sweep of the conference, talk to a few companies I wasn’t very interested in to warm up, and then visit my top picks. Expect to spend your entire day one distributing your resume and visiting booths.
Have your pitch ready to go
It helps a lot to know what you’re going to say when you finally get to talk to a representative at the booth. Here’s what I usually do:
While standing in line, I consult my research on the company. I connect the dots on how my interests mesh with the company. I take out my resume folder.
When I am in front of the recruiter, the conversation usually goes like this:
“Hi! I’m Emily Warman, nice to meet you!” “Hi! I’m a recruiter, nice to meet you too. What’s up?” “I’m a 4th year computer science major looking for full time jobs. I’m really interested in your company because [insert your reason here]. Are you hiring?”
At this point, they usually say yes and ask for your resume. If they don’t ask for your resume, this is a good time to ask if you can give it to them. Typically, they will look at it immediately. They may ask you some questions about your resume. These should be easy to answer because you did all of the things on your resume. Be technical, but brief. Frequently, the recruiter you’re talking to is an engineer as well, so they appreciate some technical depth on the answers. Sometimes they will ask you a light technical interview question. This is a good sign. If they like your answer, you’re probably about to schedule an onsite interview with them.
If there’s not a huge line, asking questions about the recruiter’s experience at the company is a great way to keep the conversation rolling. I like to ask how long they’ve worked there, their role, what office they work at, and what they love about their company.
At the end of the conversation, they may ask to schedule an onsite interview. If so, congrats! You did it! If they invite you to an evening event, that’s also a good sign. Do your best to attend, even if you have to leave early for a conflicting event. Usually events are in walking distance of the convention center. If the company doesn’t schedule an interview with you, fear not. They may contact you after the day ends. Which leads us to our next point…
Keep your ringer on and check your phone often
Lots of companies will schedule interviews after they had the chance to review all of the resumes they’ve received that day. Keep an eye on your calls, texts, and email inbox. These communications are super time sensitive. Don’t worry about spending too much time formulating a response. Speed is way more important than perfect wording. Make sure you write down all of your interview times and meeting places as you receive them so you don’t double book! Try to get as much information as you can about the format of the interview from your point of contact. They will likely tell you if the interview is technical or not, but may not tell you if the interview will be on a whiteboard or a computer.
Interview performance != your worth or intelligence
You may totally screw up an onsite interview. I certainly did, multiple times. My first interview with Facebook was a disaster. They asked me a simple algorithm question that I totally blanked on. I had no idea where to start. I had a horrible attitude about it; I definitely cried a little and the interview ended very early. I still cringe thinking about it.
Technical interviews are so hard. Take comfort in knowing that we all mess up interviews and that you get better at interviewing every time you do one. Know that you can interview at the company again next year. I interviewed with Facebook again at GHC the following year (and still didn’t pass the interview 🙃). All you can do is keep your chin up and slay the next one. My Bloomberg interview later that day was awesome and I got the internship!
GHC isn’t all about interviews
This point is pretty obvious, but there’s a lot more to GHC than the career fair. Definitely attend the opening ceremonies and the keynote. Connect with others you know attending GHC and have coffee or a snack together. Companies host tons of events or speakers with free food and swag that may not be written about in the official GHC guide. Definitely attend any events that you hear about because they’re a blast and it’s easy to meet people! One of my favorite memories of GHC was talking to a senior executive of GE at an afterparty and hearing about her 30+ year career in technology. Don’t get so wrapped up in interviewing that you forget to enjoy all GHC has to offer.
I hope these tips help you land tons of conference interviews this year! Good luck!