Career Fair schwag

Today was the first of two days of the Career Fair at University of Maryland, College Park. About 150 different employers were in town today looking for potential recruits. Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, CIA, NSA, IRS, Army, Northrup Grumman, Booz Allen, were all there, as well as many, many others. I talked with many employers, got some good leads on a potential job after I graduate in May, and distributed all 14 copies of my resume that I brought along (I’ll be bringing more to the second day of the Fair tomorrow).

But this post isn’t about the Career Fair in general. It’s about the schwag. That’s right, the free schwag that employers distribute to people who come up to their booths and talk with them. Here’s what I got:

  • Northrup Grumman
    • A strong, sturdy blue plastic clip with a magnet on the back for sticking to a refrigerator, I suppose. It looks like it could hold a two-hundred page paper, if you really so desired. Of course it has the Northrup Grumman logo and name on it.
    • A nice black, silver, and blue pen. This isn’t your typical Made in China throw-away; it’s actually high-quality and I’ll be using it regularly. It has the Northrup Grumman logo and name on it as well.
  • Central Intelligence Agency
    • A refrigerator magnet with the CIA name and logo on it; the logo is a bald eagle over a shield with a 16-pointed star.
    • A metallic lapel pin that has the CIA name and logo on it. I should put this on and go pretend I’m an Agent. Or not.
  • Boeing
    • A set of five cheap pens. Each pen has a different colored highlighter on the opposite end: yellow, blue, orange, green, and pink. Each pen has the Boeing logo and employment website on it.
  • Vanguard
    • A cheap mechanical pencil with the Vanguard name and employment website printed on it (somehow I ended up with two of these).
    • Some sort of weird circular white disc that unscrews to reveal a moist black foam that supposedly contains a shoe polish. I’m not going to risk it. Vanguard is written across the front.
  • Lockheed Martin
    • A nifty cell phone ear bud with a wire loaded onto an automatically recoiling spring feed. Too bad it’s not compatible with my cell phone. It has the Lockheed Martin logo on it, but curiously, not the name of the company. Not everyone is going to know what this logo is.
  • National Security Agency
    • A really cheap transparent green plastic pen with National Security Agency and the website written across it.
    • A nifty black aluminum carabiner with integrated flashlight. It has National Security Agency and the website written on it. The difference in quality between this and the pen is like the difference between night and day.
  • Cigital
    • A cheap-feeling Made in China transparent blue pen with company logo, name, and website on it. It is unique in that the push button on the end of it is a weird squishy ball, not the usual rod as employed in more traditional pens.
  • JDSU
    • A nifty socketed screwdriver set. It’s a cheapish gray plastic case with JDSU written on it that folds out to reveal some real metal socketed attachments: four Phillips heads, two flat heads, an extension rod, and two rods, one embedded with a Phillips head and one with a flat head. The drivers socket in to a hole along the foldout hinge, to provide maximum torque for using the tool. Unfortunately, the hole the metal drivers plug into is only made out of plastic, and I could conceivably see it becoming stripped when lots of force is applied.
  • Intel
    • A full pad of graph paper with the Intel logo on every page. This is actually pretty nice.
  • Cisco Systems
    • A nifty silver combination calculator/word time clock. It slides apart to reveal access to the keys. Despite being Made in China, the quality on this feels really nice and sturdy. It has the company name and logo prominently displayed on it. It includes a faux leather carrying case.
  • Citrix
    • A black T-shirt emblazoned with company name and slogan vacuum-packed into a small, compact disc.

So that’s everything I got in two hours of Career Fairing. The winner for best schwag is a tie between Cisco and JDSU: Cisco’s schwag is higher quality, but JDSU’s is more useful. I should have gotten a lot more schwag, but to be honest, it wasn’t my top priority at all. Most of the schwag I got was purposefully given to me by the recruiters after talking with them for awhile (so the schwag you see listed above is heavily biased towards companies I might be interested in working for). I outright forgot to grab some schwag from some of the other companies there, like Microsoft, who, incidentally, had some really nice schwag. It probably doesn’t give off the best impression to employers if you immediately grab for all of their free stuff, anyway.

So I’m going to the second day of the career fair tomorrow and should get some more schwag out of that. In addition to everything I mentioned above, I also have mountains of paper, literature, and business cards given to me by the recruiters.

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