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Career Fair draws eager students

Right outside Von Cannon Hall in the Bryan Center, junior Justin Darkoch approached Abigail Pachon, '97, smiled and introduced himself.

"Do you have your resume?" Pachon inquired.

Darkoch promptly reached into his planner and produced one--and not for the first time Wednesday. He was looking for internships at IBM and Nortel in addition to General Motors, at whose table he had proceeded to launch into a conversation with Pachon, one of three GM representatives at the Career Fair. Dressed in a white collared shirt and gray slacks, Darkoch is experienced. He participated in his first Career Fair last year, as a sophomore.

Darkoch talked earnestly about the benefits of attending a career fair early on in college. "You get practice talking to [on-campus recruiters]. It's not something you can practice in front of a mirror, you need to go up to people."

As he remained engaged in dialogue with Pachon, Rui Liao finished her conversation with another GM recruiter, Thomas Kirk, '90, and headed into Von Cannon Hall to wait to talk to a representative from General Electric. Liao, a graduate student in engineering, looked relaxed as she stood in line, sporting jeans and a red shirt. She confessed she had not "prepped too much," but did not necessarily feel nervous about approaching recruiters of various technical companies. "It sort of depends on the feedback you get," she explained. "If the representative is very cordial, you feel more comfortable."

Back at the GM table, the recruiters--all three of them Duke graduates--stood in front of a cardboard display advertising colorful GM vehicles, anticipating the next wave of prospective interns. Michelle Bernst, '97, said that they all volunteered to attend the Career Fair on a pro bono basis.

Bernst, Kirk and Pachon took advantage of their moment alone to reveal what impressed them the most about a prospective GM employee. "Being well-informed about the company and able to express a desire to work in the automotive industry," Pachon said.

"Right," Kirk agreed. "They have to show enthusiasm, not just come over here because they want to collect posters." He nodded to the collection of tiny posters in the shapes of GM pickup trucks sitting on the table before them.

Two floors above, Cathy Perez, who was representing GAP Inc., echoed similar sentiments. What turns her off as a recruiter, she said, are students asking general questions that are already answered in the bright yellow pamphlets strategically placed on the sides of the table. "People who have done their research, who ask specific questions--that impresses me," Perez said.

On the other side of the lobby opposite of GAP and Perez, senior Becky Murphy waited patiently for her friend to finish speaking to a representative. While she previously visited both GAP. and Abercrombie & Fitch, she felt more intrigued by organizations like Teach for America and the Peace Corps.

"I'm interested in teaching and volunteer work more than, like, investment firms," Murphy said. "So the Career Fair doesn't do much for me."

A few feet in front of Murphy stood senior Rittik Chaudhuri. He was at the fair to visit representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency.

"Yep, the CIA." He pointed straight ahead, towards the area by the lobby entrance. "There's a whole crowd of students there." After dropping by the CIA booth, Chaudhuri began milling about the Bryan Center--one of many simply keeping an eye out for something that looked interesting.

"But, really, I just came to see the CIA," he shrugged, smiling.

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