CHARM, short for Chalmers Studentkårs Arbetsmarknadsdagar, is a two-day career fair event that is held at Chalmers campus Johanneberg. It is typically held once a year in February but due to the recent pandemic precautions, the fair for 2022 was postponed to early April instead. This was great since the CHARM committee understood the disadvantages of an online fair like the one in 2021, during the heart of the pandemic. Some of the difficulties included the inability to replicate the pure interaction of speaking with recruiters in the natural way people interact, interactions being less dynamic and spontaneous, students could not easily interact with other students, and so on. Needless to say, I was impressed how the committee adapted to the companies’ needs as well as the needs of the students and vice versa.
During the fair this year, not only did I attend the fair but also participated as a corporate host. As part of my responsibilities, I was assigned to help one or two companies (based on my request and work experience) to settle in a few weeks before the fair began. It was my responsibility as a corporate host to remind the companies I was assigned to liaise about their upcoming steps to get them setup for the fair. The idea is to make things as seamless as possible so there are no hiccups or surprises during booth setup or during the fair itself. I was assigned engineering companies due to my past work experience, so it felt a bit more natural for me to get the attending company recruiters feel at ease from the start. As part of the process, I was asked to initially confirm the attendance of the company representatives via email or phone. There were several questions asked regarding booth equipment setup, logistics, GraduateLand virtual booth setup (where companies can interact with student online after creating a job profile), CHARM banquet dinner details after the fair, and many more. It felt a little overwhelming at times, but it was more work leading up to the event than during. This is likely because I had to research the answers to the questions I received with the help of others since I am relatively new here at Chalmers. I was pleased to hear that my company representatives were satisfied with my communication and my help getting their booth ready for the action-packed fair days. It was a good learning curve to the process, but I hope to put everything I have learned to good use next year! Being a host helped me utilize more networking opportunities with other student corporate hosts as well as the corporate recruiters themselves. In my opinion, recruiters spotted me more noticeably in a crowd of students which helped me start more conversations. I highly recommend volunteering for the corporate or other host positions i.e., if your schedule permits and you are looking to leave an impression on recruiters.
As a student of design (studying Interaction Design Master’s) my opportunities felt quite limited – there were significantly less number of companies invested in my discipline compared to Engineering or IT. I knew this going into the fair, but I do not say this to deter anyone from going to the fair. CHARM is a great way to truly understand the extent to which one’s corresponding industry is evolving and the kind of opportunities available in the near future. For me, the learning moments were that almost every larger company is currently going through a design evolution and that there would be many exciting design roles available to me by the time I graduate a year from now. This was valuable information that I will be carrying forward, especially when I am in search of a corporation partnered master thesis project within the next six months. I hope to keep my connections strong so I can work with an innovative and exciting industry partner, where in many cases could turn into full-time hiring opportunities after graduation. Conversely, I was happy to find many reputed design agencies that are established in and around Gothenburg. These companies did confirm that they like graduates from my design program, so I feel more confident when it is time for job applications around graduation.
Before attending the fair and after the CHARM booklet is released, I highly recommend going through the roster of attending companies and doing some research about them. Learn about their recent achievements, their future goals, their strengths, their weaknesses (if any), and who is attending. Before the fair, I was able to identify fifteen to twenty companies that caught my eye out of several hundred in attendance. I was able to do some initial research about them so I could have quick conversation points in case the recruiters were interested in why I chose to talk to them. I can safely say that this does leave a more lasting impression and helps ease the conversation after the recruiters realize your genuine interest in their companies. For me, it was beneficial to know that a potential company’s design team was relatively new, and that I could be a good asset to help them develop it if they chose to hire me. I was happy to have left with some business cards after being knowledgeable and prepared before approaching their respective company booth(s).
Being a first-year master’s student along with the shift in fair timeline from February to April, it seemed too late for me to find any internship opportunities for the summer. I was surprised to see that a few companies did open their internship applications specifically for CHARM. This is a good sign since it shows companies have the students’ best interests at heart when considering the late deadline for internships this year. I knew there were several companies whose internship deadlines closed at the end of 2021 and early 2022 but this is a very few companies. There were a lot more full-time hiring openings and master thesis for second year students - understandably so.
Overall, this year’s fair was a fun and enlightening experience. I was fortunate to have attended it in-person and to have learned about the complex background pieces in motion up until, during, and after the event. After stepping back, it is mind-blowing to realize that it is a completely student-organized event. Shout out to all the students who were part of the CHARM career fair organization this year. Your hard work shows, and it wouldn’t have been the same without you! I am looking forward to it next year.