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Job fair blues

Getting paid to share information at your Web site. Career Advisor hed: Job fair blues dek: getting paid to share information at your Web site. by Molly Joss

Q: Are job fairs worth the time? I attended a local one recently, but the only computer jobs the companies there were hiring for were experienced programmers. They wouldn’t talk to me if I said I was interested in something else (which I am). Are there non-programming computer job fairs? How would I find out more about them?

A: A lot depends on the company that is organizing the event. If they do their job correctly, a computer job fair in your local area can be a really good way to at least find out what kinds of jobs companies in the area are looking to fill. The problem is, it is hard to tell if they’ve done their job right unless you attend the event, and even a good company can host a bad event from time to time.

My suggestion is to go and plan on spending no more than half a day there. Make it your goal to speak to at least five company reps and get their contact information. Consider it an exercise in building up your skills in on-the-spot interviewing.

You can find out about computer job fairs in your area by keeping a close watch on the business journals and events sections of your local major dailies. You can also find out about them by searching the Web. I found a few by using “computer job fairs” as my search term.

In some areas of the country, job fairs are regular events. For example, the Northwest High Tech Career Expo is held a couple of times a year and admission is free if you come clutching your résumé.

Q: For the past year I have studied Cisco Systems networking. In four months I will be a CCNP and a CCDP. Then I will start to study for the “security specialist” designation. I do not have any on-the-job computer experience. Most companies are requiring 3 to 5 years experience. Do you think I will be able to find a job soon or should I try to get an unpaid internship? I would appreciate any feedback you have to offer.

A: Believe it or not, you could get a job right away teaching the courses you will have completed! Real-life experience-at least years of it-isn’t required by some schools; just the relevant certification and participation in a crash course in teaching.

You could do that while you continue to search for a job in the field. You probably do need to get a job that gives you experience before you can successfully apply for the jobs that state years of experience as a requirement.

You could also get an unpaid internship, but many internships and short-term assignment jobs pay real money. To find out more about IT internships, here are a few Web sites for you to visit: Internships. com, Wetfeet, and InternJobs.

You may want to apply for a job with the companies offering IT internships before you apply for an internship. Companies that offer internships, in my opinion, tend to be more flexible and inventive about their hiring policies than companies that don’t.

Q: I’m 25 and am looking for a new job in a new location. My work experience so far consists of 2 1/2 years at my current job, where I run the office at a business development company. I don’t have much computer experience, but I’m taking courses in e-commerce Web development and Java. I have time to learn, and I like hot weather. What can you tell me about where might be best for me to move and what kind of job expectations to have?

A: If I was 25 years old again and free to move around, this is what I’d do. I’d pick some places with weather I like (southern California, Arizona and southern Florida fit your request for hot weather). Then I’d go vacation in these places (cheaply so I could stay as long as I could). I’d load up on back issues of the local daily (Sunday edition) that covers the area. I’d drive around and try to get a feel for the area–see if it’s got the kind of amenities I like and housing I can afford (on my present salary).

When I got home, I’d monitor the area for a while (weeks, a few months), by subscribing to the local business magazines and newspapers that cover the area. I’d see what I could find in guidebooks and online about the area. Then I’d compile a list of computer-related businesses in the area and find out what they do.

Then, I’d try to get a job like the one I have now, but in the area I want to move to-hopefully with a computer-related company on the list. Once I got there, I’d start training for the kind of work that the computer-related businesses want most, by hanging around in computer networking groups, going to classes in the area, taking online classes, asking for on-the-job training. I’d also make a pest of myself at my current job until they see I’m serious about helping them with their computers.

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