The Building Blocks of Leadership Transition
I love going to career fairs, better yet engineering career fairs. As one of the self-proclaimed extrovert engineers, I often attend college career fairs in search of the next building block to grow the engineering team at DLR Group. Career fairs can be physically and emotionally draining and they always seem to be scheduled on the busiest day of the year, every time! Yet the cause is noble. The room is always busting with curiosity and optimism. The handshakes are always an adventure, but I just can't get enough of it and here's why.
First, it is the planning. Planning for career fairs is more than blowing the dust off the old brochures and going to Sam's Club for the discount candy. The planning process starts with finding a wing man. Someone who is half my age, preferably a graduate of the institute that we are visiting, with the enthusiasm to share the good news about DLR Group.
DLR Group is a unique culture and a great place to work. That makes it easy to share our story 100 times in four hours. The reaction from the students is exhilarating. It literally recharges my battery. It helps me regain focus on how the integrated design process is supposed to work, reminds of the great work we have done, and reinforces the opportunities that lie ahead for our employee-owners and the firm.
There is nothing like watching a young person walk past your booth eight times, building the courage to approach you. The engineers I recruit are typically introverted, and when they finally stop at my booth they are often speechless. I have a soft spot for this demographic because they remind me of myself at that age, except my haircut was much worse.
It’s my opinion that career fairs are about finding personalities that will be a cultural fit, rather than differential equations and whether altitude affects boiler performance (which it does). There will be plenty of time to get to the bottom of the technical stuff later. Get them talking. Once you’ve made them comfortable, their stories are fascinating and it becomes much easier to determine if this candidate is right for your culture.
The best part - the number one reason why I love college recruiting - is that a brief encounter can turn into a summer internship, that intern can become a new hire, and that new hire is the first step in leadership transition.