Devex Global Development Career Forum was held in Washington, DC on March 24, 2017. Those of us who had over 7 years of experience related to International Development and were quick enough to register (the spots filled quickly) headed to a secret central location at 1 p.m. The exact venue was announced to the confirmed participants few days in advance.
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center was buzzing. This was definitely THE international development career fair of the year! Overwrought crowds of seasoned experts flew from exhibitors hall on the left to the one on the right of the central hall where the registration took place. And there I was, in the middle of the traffic and full of questions. What should I tell at the stands? Where shall I begin?
The answers came from different people. First, I stumbled upon few lovely fellow fellows. They shared that the most natural way to begin the conversation is with an introduction – elevator speech. Inspired, I then joined the lines to the stands. And there I had another chat with a lady, who has been frequenting the Forum for a few years. She shared a controversial, but as it later turned out, sensible view: “You should not come to these Forums to find a job because you won’t” (it’s only when I reached the desk and saw the bored faces of the recruiters who semi-mechanically answered the same questions, accepted CVs and asked the candidates to apply online, I concurred), “You should come to make connections”, she said.
Now, a connection is made when you are capable of initiating an engaging conversation with your the vis-a-vis. In terms of a career forum, it most definitely means that you should come with a pre-defined list of companies and a solid idea of what you would like to learn from a company’s insider. Homework, homework, and homework. And homework again. And this was the defining term of participating in the Forum, I concur.
If you didn’t make it there, fellows, don’t despair. Have a look at the list of exhibitors, it provides plenty of useful information about the companies who are actively hiring, as does Devex website if you have a career account.