Georgia Tech Career Fair Trip

On Monday I had the great privilege of waking up at 6:30 am to catch my 9am flight to Atlanta, Georgia. Which is to say, my 9am flight to Phoenix, Arizona, and then to Atlanta. Hooray for the crazy U.S. airline industry. :/

It’s threeish hours time difference from here to there, plus five hours of flight time, meant I arrived at 6:30pmish local time. I flew alone, although there were three of us going out there – Nils, Erin & myself. I met with Erin the first night, after boggling for a while at the size and luxury of my so-called “hotel” room, more aptly described as a full-fledged apartment, and after admiring the quite passable view from the top of the hotel (Georgian Terraces, fwiw). We went out to a place called the Krog Bar, where we had what I believe is “tapas” (correctly pronounced tay-pas ;) ). Getting out there was entertaining… Erin drove, and she’d had this place recommended by a friend but had never been anywhere near that area, so she was as uncertain as I when it started getting darker, and slummier, and generally scary looking. Only moments after I joked about us being on the wrong side of the tracks, we did indeed cross some train tracks, into an even more crappy area. Hesitantly, we nonetheless followed the directions of my iPhone and found – with some surprise – that after turning into what we thought was some derelict old trainyard, there was in fact our destination, as well as what looked like another bar / nightclub. Whoda thunkit.

So that was pretty good, and gave Erin & I a chance to properly introduce ourselves – we’d met previously only once, briefly at work – and certainly filed a hole in my stomach created by many hours of flying with nay more than two micropackets of pretzels (given they charged for anything more substantial, accepted only cash, and only correct change at that, which I did not have…wtf).

After that it was back to the hotel to get in some sleep in preparation for the insanely early start we were burdened with – meeting in the lobby at 8am! Who devises such cruel and unusual itineraries?!? ;)

8am shouldn’t have been bad at all, but I woke up at 6:30 just to be sure, and I just didn’t sleep very well that night… I’m not sure what it was – at least some of it was just general nerves for the coming day, but I don’t think that was all. Erin & Nils apparently had much the same problem. And we all repeated the poor sleep the following night, too, when there was no more stress to be had… something just wasn’t right for us there.

Anyway, the career fair itself… it was pretty insane. From the start, at 9:30 or so, when the students first came in, I did not take even 30 seconds break until we finished up at about 4:45pm or somesuch. There were just soooo many students – we had three separate queues, one for each of us, that stretched down the hallway some, for nearly all the time we were there. I had expected it to be a challenging and long day, but I don’t think any of us expected that.

It was a really significant experience, though, being on the other side of the table. I was quite impressed, by and large, with the people I spoke with and the resumes I perused… some of the projects that I saw mentioned were pretty impressive, and I wish I’d had the time to talk to many of the students in proper detail about them. Alas, with such queues, we had so little time for each individual. :(

And it was also eye-opening in terms of what makes a good resume, and how to present yourself, as a student, at these sort of things. Many many resumes were perfectly fine in general – I was actually pretty impressed overall that they all had pretty reasonable formatting, the generally right content, etc – but precious few had a statement of objective(s) – i.e. what the student was looking for; where their interests & passions lay; what their work goals and intentions were. Indeed, I think I saw all of two cover letters in the entire pile we collected. I now much more appreciate the advice I was given in uni, by our careers department, when they recommended we take the time to write cover letters.

Indeed, I’m now personally offended by my own resume as it stands, and will never show it to anyone again without some serious work.

When things finally wrapped up, and we could actually just pause for an entire minute – and shut up; I nearly lost my voice by early afternoon, although somehow I recovered and finished strong – we packed up our kit and headed off in search of food; I’d missed lunch, of course, and hadn’t even had a chance to grab a drink the whole time.

So we hit a place called the Vortex, which isn’t far from the hotel, and is apparently well-reputed for it’s burgers, one more famous of which is called the Coronary Bypass. Despite the name, and that of the other burgers, none were particularly greasy, and all were quite good; well, mine was anyway. I had ostrich, too, just to try something a bit different… it was more or less like a normal burger, albeit a little drier. Quite nice, although I stuffed myself with potato gems first up (a.k.a. “Tater Tots” here) because I’m obsessed with them, and consequently couldn’t finish my burger. Whoops. :D

After eating we did a ‘quick’ first-pass sort of the resumes into intern/fulltime and so forth, which took only two hours or somesuch. Did I mention we saw a lot of students throughout the day? :)

Nils had been out the night before with friends – he’d gone to school at Georgia Tech – and had originally had plans for the second night too, but they fell through in the end. We should, all three of us, have gone out and ripped up the town, but Erin was purporting to be all studious and do work, and I was exhausted and was really thinking about bed. Well, that’s not entirely true – I’d really been thinking of chilling in a spa for an hour or two, but sadly the hotel hadn’t seen fit to furnish it’s guests with one, so I had to go without. I think I did a few menial tasks – caught up on email and whatnot – before realising I wasn’t going to get anything more done that night, and curled up in bed.

‘course, knowing I had to get up at 5:30am to catch my 8am flight, my “early” bedtime of 10pm or somesuch really wasn’t as such. Getting up wasn’t too much of an issue, and I was all showered and packed up in short time, and on my way back to ye ol’ airport. The flight back was much like the first – horribly cramped, boring, and an unpleasant, persistent reminder of how much I hate commercial air travel – but it was over relatively quickly (5 hours is substantially less distressing than the fifteenish it is back to Melbourne).

And naturally, when I arrived back at noon or so in San Jose, I went straight to work. Who doesn’t? :D

(actually, work yesterday was really cool, and productive, so I was really glad I’d decided to suck up my tiredness and crankiness and go in)

So, pretty cool trip, even if I didn’t really see anything other than a restaurant, a bar, one building of a college campus and the roof above my hotel bed. :)

In fact, it turns out that I’ve now flown roughly 106,275 km on commercial airliners – I probably couldn’t count scenic flights and whatnot even if I wanted to; I don’t know the winding routes they took. That estimate’s based entirely on direct lines between airports, not taking into account that the flight paths themselves may vary. It’s just over two and a half times around the world, or just over a quarter of the distance from the Earth to the moon. Sweet. :D

It also means I’ve passed through airports, and all the fun that entails, 49 times (counting ingress and egress). I’m not sure precisely how many times I’ve been through airport security, but if we symbolicate that as being N, then that means I’ve passed through airport security N too many times. Gah.

This time around, at San Jose, they stole my deodorant and moisturiser. It’s good to know the terrorists will at least have to endure body odour and dry skin.

Anyway, irritated rants aside, and airline travel in general, the trip was most entertaining, and educational. I’ve no idea when or if I’ll do a similar thing again, but despite my better sense for self-preservation – and most importantly, laziness – I’m looking forward to it. :)

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