ERIE, Pa. — “Knock knock.”
It would seem unconventional, perhaps even reckless, to begin an elevator pitch at a career fair with those two words. But what if that pitch is directed to the National Comedy Center?
“The best thing a person can do is stand out, and humor is obviously important to us,” said Peter Vizza, an assistant archivist and graphic designer for the National Comedy Center. He said it’s not uncommon for students to begin pitches with a joke. “With our company, you’ll be interacting with people from all across the country and abroad, so you need to be comfortable with putting yourself out there.”
The National Comedy Center was one of a record 176 companies to attend the Spring Career and Internship Fair at Penn State Behrend. More than 750 students attended the event, which was sponsored by the Academic and Career Planning Center and held March 15 in the college’s Junker Center.
The National Comedy Center, a non-profit cultural institution located in Jamestown, New York, was looking to fill internships in the areas of communications and marketing, events and programming, development and donor hospitality, graphic and video design, and museum studies and curation, as well as ecommerce and merchandising management. With such a wide range of positions available, Vizza said he was most interested in speaking with versatile students, capable of filling multiple roles.
“With our company, we have positions that are applicable for just about any major,” Vizza said. “Really, the best thing that students can do today is stand out, be engaging when we chat and show open-mindedness.”
Taylor May, a senior digital media arts and technology major, displayed that type of open-mindedness at the career fair. Rather than stress, the Brownville native decided to take a calm-and-cool approach.
“Instead of coming in strong and stressing everything I have to offer, I try to get on the recruiter’s level and just have a conversation,” said May, who hoped to secure an internship.
May’s goal was to leave a strong first impression with employers. Several students in attendance agreed that first impressions can go a long way toward developing a relationship with a company.
“I think first impressions are everything,” said Hannah Carlino, a sophomore marketing and business economics major from Pittsburgh who attended the fair in search of an internship. “If companies see that you’re prepared, they’ll definitely be more likely to offer you an internship or position.”
Of course, anxiousness is inevitable at career fairs. While companies value first impressions, they’re also not the be-all and end-all.
“A first impression is a great thing, but I would not write anyone off due to a nervous moment,” said Stacy Ress, a human resources generalist with Zurn Industries. “We understand that this experience is really overwhelming, and we’ve all been there.”
Marketing Communications Coordinator, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College