How to stand out at a career fair at a massive university?

I stumbled across this question in the r/CSCareerQuestions sub reddit which I frequent, and wanted to give my two cents. Here is the post, and below is my answer:

I’m a Tech Evangelist at Microsoft,  frequent hackathons at large universities, and work directly with our recruiting teams. These include: Cornell, Georgia Tech, Penn State, UPenn, Drexel, Temple, Lehigh, etc.

Here is what I can tell you from my experiences over the last 3 years:

career at Microsoft

  • Stand out with your digital presence

Have a digital resume. I show you how to do that here.

  • The languages you know are irrelevant.

The fact that you can learn new languages, and learn quickly, is far more valuable than the handful of languages you know right now.

When I was hired at Comcast, I was brought on for my C# / XAML background, so that I could make additions to their Xfinity app on the Xbox 360. Three weeks into the role, we had an Xbox One dev kit before launch, and I was the only person working on that. The language I had to use? JavaScript / HTML.

Moral of that story: The ability to learn quick is valuable.

  • Do you have an online presence?

This can be anything from Stack Overflow, to GitHub, or even Twitter. I’m going to check those. If I see that you are active on Stack Overflow, and answering tough technical questions for others, and can communicate clearly, I know that you’d be a valuable asset on our team. Your GitHub report card tells me that you can work with others, are consistently coding, and I can also **see** your code for myself.

  • Have a website.

Your online persona speaks volumes about yo u. It illustrates what you are passionate about. If I see that you are knowledgeable about a specific area, are passionate about it, and communicate clearly — you’d probably make a great fit for our team.

I was a construction worker in NYC before I became a programmer at two Fortune 50s. Comcast saw my blog, called me while I was sweeping a floor, and said “We saw you have experience with building games on the Xbox 360. We need a full time employee to lead our team at Comcast. “Would you like to interview next week?”

There is no silver bullet, but I can tell you that my tips can’t hurt you.

I can only tell you about what stands out to me immediately. When it comes time to sift through the 300 resumes I receive at a recruiting event or hackathon, these are the ones that rise to the top for me.

Feel free to ping me with any additional questions at @DaveVoyles, I’d be glad to help.

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