The countdown to the largest science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers conference is only weeks away. The Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference takes place February 7 – 9 at Washington Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C.
Unfolding over three days, the conference, which is marking its 33rd year, encompasses workshops, seminars, panel discussions, networking events, an awards dinner, and, of course, the career fair. Last year the event attracted more than 4,600 students, 4,475 professionals, and hundreds of employers.
It’s not a good idea to take a “wing it” approach to the conference. There is simply too much at stake, and without a plan, one might not mine the conference for all it’s worth. Below are tips to help you prepare:
Whether it’s a question on a seminar or one on one at the career fair, you’ll want to have a few in mind to ask recruiters, panelists, or workshop presenters. Think up a few solid questions in advance.
Perfect your elevator pitch. Work on what you would say if you had a few minutes with a CEO, a military officer, or the head of an engineering firm that you admire. Practice it alone and with a trusted colleague.
Review the BEYA website, and familiarize oneself with the events and opportunities.
Determine ahead of time which sessions would be most beneficial on a personal level.
Come up with a priority list of the companies and individuals that are the most important to get to know.
Develop a tentative schedule so that you don’t miss out on hearing from or speaking to specific individuals or attending an important event.
Do your homework. Much like tests and presentations in college and the workplace, don’t show up unprepared.
Research companies that interest you, and find out some relevant information that could become part of a conversation with a company representative.
Have some knowledge in your back pocket about individuals you’re seeking to meet. Is their company working on a new product or headed in a new direction? Stick to the positives.
Finetune your resume and social media. Resumes and social media sites with one’s professional information should be reviewed, brought up to date, and designed to impress.
And it’s not a bad idea to clean up, as much as possible, other personal social media sites that may cast a less than favorable impression of you.
Make a memorable impression. Don’t underestimate the importance of your personal appearance. Dress in clean, pressed, appropriate business attire. Hair, makeup, and accessories should be on the conservative side, not flashy.
Don’t forget to follow up. If you want to make yourself stand apart from the horde of job seekers, take the time to send a brief email or mail a thank you note.