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BY Brock Dudley

Career Fair vs. Career Conference

Hello, everyone! Q1 of 2024 is in the books and we are days away from kicking off our April 2024 Career Conference. We have a great group of junior military officers ready to take the next steps toward launching their business careers!

Before I jump in with an update on the types of positions and industries that are being represented at the April 2024 Career Conference, I would like to talk about the difference between a Career Fair and a Cameron-Brooks Career Conference.

As a proud alumnus and 2018 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, I have been exposed to the Alumni network as well as the Service Academy Career Conference (SACC). As a business professional and former junior military officer, I often get the question: “Did you go to the SACC?”. My answer is “Actually, no.” It takes people back a bit and they ask me “Why not?”. I get this question so much that it inspired me to write on it. Now, I don’t have anything negative to say about the Service Academy Career Conference but I want to describe what the difference is between a career fair or a job fair, and a Cameron-Brooks Career Conference.

Career Fairs

Typically, there are lots of tables set up designed for networking and learning more about companies.  Everyone will typically wear a suit. You’ll bring a stack of resumes and business cards with you. You may even have to pay to attend, and certainly, any business professional will tell you how important it is to network. A lot of business is certainly done through connections and networking, so this fee isn’t that much of an investment when we’re talking about investing in your career. The problem is that there aren’t necessarily open positions, and one isn’t interviewing for an open position. A career fair is an inclusive platform that enables candidates to get in front of companies to engage in dialogue and learn more about that company.

WHAT does Cameron-Brooks do?

First off, when talking about a career fair vs career conference, it’s important to know WHAT Cameron-Brooks does and WHO we are. We are a firm in corporate America that guides officers in transition preparation to conduct a broad and robust career search. We help military officers conduct a career search to find, launch, and lead a fulfilling career. We create an opportunity for officers to find and ultimately work for a great company, using their skills to do fulfilling, meaningful work that has a purpose and balance in life. While that certainly is a tall order, that is the target. When I talk to officers who want to launch a business career, that is typically what they want, and that is what we strive to deliver.

Every  JMO candidate is enrolled in the Development and Preparation Program, a curriculum-based, self-paced online learning program. It’s like a mini-MBA, including 1-1 coaching and workshops, designed to help military officers come up to speed on business topics and knowledge. This program culminates in one of our 5 Career Conferences a year which is a 4 ½ day event scheduled 45-60 days before you start your terminal leave.

So, what are the differences between a Career Fair and a Career Conference?

Cameron-Brooks Career Conference

For a company to attend one of our Career Conferences, 3 specific requirements need to be met:

  • They must be high-quality companies. Okay, that is so fluffy. Let me explain. They are A-tier, industry-leading companies. For them to attend, they must be leaders in their industry, and they have to value the junior military officer background, which is non-traditional.
  • They must have current openings they are ready to fill that will match your availability as you transition from the military. That means they have to have a job description that includes position requirements, salary, location, and benefits. The salaries are vetted by our CEO, Chuck Alvarez, to be commensurate with or greater in pay than your current salary.
  • The positions must be developmental for a strong JMO to step OUT and UP into business. These positions are vetted by our CEO, Chuck Alvarez, to avoid moving down-market which runs the risk of running into one of the biggest missteps in the transition: Underemployment.

When you attend a Cameron-Brooks Career Conference, you bypass the algorithms and the AI filters. You will not submit an application and in fact, you will go directly to the Hiring Managers and the decision makers. Throughout the Development and Preparation Program, you will have many conversations and 1 on 1 coaching sessions with a transition coach, all who have been former junior military officers and have successfully navigated to the business world and are experts in navigating the transition and coaching. We will get to know you, discuss your Career Field interests and topics that are important to you and your personal and professional life and we will build a plan tailored to you. You will work before, during, and after the Career Conference with the entire Cameron-Brooks team. We act as your guide and help you navigate the entire process so that YOU can make the best decision for YOU!

Now that you know the basics of “Career Fair vs. Career Conference”, here is what you’ve been waiting for—a sampling of what we have in store for our April 2024 Career Conference.

Sample Industries Include:

Robotics; Industrial Gases; IT Consulting; Medical Devices; Heavy Machinery; Semiconductors; Healthcare; Professional Services; Communications; Building Materials; Construction; Real Estate; Specialty Vehicles; Food & Beverage; Packaging and many more.

Sample Positions Include:

Engineering/Production Supervisor; Assistant Plant Manager; Sales Account Manager; Global Product Support Engineer; Operations Manager; Supply Chain Manager; Plant Process Engineer; Logistics Supervisor; Plant Project Manager; Estimator/Project Manager; Regional Director of Operations; Senior IT Analyst; Strategic Sourcing Manager; Six Sigma Black Belt; Business Analyst/Project Management; Fast Track Associate Sales Representative; Senior Production Supervisor; Regional Manager; Senior Manufacturing Engineer; Operations Manager; Finance Lead; Senior Buyer, Plant Procurement; Finance Manager; Software Quality Engineer; Project Manager; Automation General Manager; and many more.

If you are considering making the transition in 2024, 2025, or even 2026, now is the time to learn about your options and your marketability. It’s never too late, and it’s never too early. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your options. Cameron-Brooks has a 50-year track record of doing this.

Stay tuned for our Post-April 2024 Career Conference review! We will be back in two weeks.

Brock Dudley

Principal, Transition Coach


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