Autumn Careers Fair 2017: ‘What truly impressed me was the transferable skills I could offer employers’

Our Summer Recruitment Fair is on Wednesday 9th May.
International Events Management student, Harry Bower, tells us about his visit to the Autumn careers fair. Follow his advice to be sure of a successful day.


Waiting for something…anything!

My name is Harry Bower and I’m a final year International Events Management student preparing myself for graduation and the big wide world. Let me tell you this – getting ready for life after studying for a degree is every bit as terrifying and thought provoking as you’d imagine it to be.

What happens if I don’t do as well as I hope in my final exams? What if I don’t find a job? What if I can’t compete with thousands of other students who are out there fighting for the same job?

There can be a tendency for those questions to ruin the final year of University, as students heap pressure on themselves and become convinced that they’re at a disadvantage, which indirectly promotes a negative attitude toward job hunting, and it can be a vicious cycle from there. I’ve decided to try and live my final year at University a little differently. I’m saying yes to opportunity and no to negativity. Basically what that means is that I’m carrying on along the road of ‘I have no idea what’s going to happen’, in the hope that something does actually happen.

Fortunately, when you study at The University of Surrey – you don’t need to wait long for something to happen.

A world of opportunity on your doorstep

Before my second year, I had little interaction with the team at the University’s in-house Employability & Careers Centre (located just inside the Philip Marchant Building). I saw it as a place where final year students go to hide and weather the job-search storm, taking on advice and re-fuelling ready for another long week of rejections and CV’s being thrown in the bin. On the contrary, it couldn’t have been more different when I first engaged with one of the Centre’s many events and guest talks. What stood out to me about this event was the opportunity to talk to the panellists after the talk. I made valuable contacts and exchanged information in the hope we may meet again in the future.

Not only do these events and talks provide an opportunity to learn, but also an opportunity to network.  That’s what I saw the Autumn Careers & Placements Fair as a chance to do – make industry contacts and chat to likeminded people in the hope that one day it may lead somewhere. I wasn’t expecting to just wander in and pick an exhibitor to get a job from – that would have been naïve (although as it happens, many of the exhibitors were there to do just that: employ Surrey graduates!)

From the moment I walked through the entrance to that classic Surrey marquee on PATS field, I felt a certain buzz in the air. It was a feeling of excitement and expectation. Students even looked the part, dressed smartly in suits or dresses. The next few hours were a complete blur of networking, business card exchanging and grabbing freebies! Side note: between this and Fresher’s Fayre, I’ll never have to buy a pen again!

The Verdict

The minute I returned home from the Autumn Careers Fair, I got to work emailing everyone I’d spoken to, thanking them for taking their time and attaching a digital version of my business card and for select employers, cheekily offering my CV. In the theme of taking opportunity, I jumped at all replies and offers of further conversation/meetings etc – it’s genuinely surprising the reaction that can come from an email and a smile when meeting face to face.

As I referenced above, I study Events Management. Sure, there were no specific events companies at this Fair, but what truly impressed me about the day was the transferable skills I could offer employers. For example, my skills in project management were relevant to jobs being offered by huge multinational companies including Virgin Media, huge science companies and marketing organisations. In fact, some of the opportunities at this event were more relevant to me than at subject specific events I’ve attended in the past.

Speaking as a student, I can’t recommend attendance to this Fair (or any Surrey employability event) highly enough. Come prepared with business cards, CVs and ideas, dress smartly and you’re on your way to making a great impression. After that, all you need is a hefty amount of luck. If the University is providing everything for you on a plate and all you rely on yourself is luck – what’s not to love?


The Summer Recruitment Fair is on Wednesday May 9th in the marquee on PATS field, 11am-2:30pm.
Surrey students can register for tickets here.