Note: In college I was an occasional columnist for Georgia Tech's student newspaper, the Technique. Unfortunately, over the course of several website redos, they lost authorship information and many old articles are listed under the name of the editor in chief. I assure you that I'm the actual author of all of these. :)
The career fair is upon us today, and with over 400 companies represented between the two days it's very difficult to decide which companies to even speak with, let alone which you want to work for. If we as students are overwhelmed by the number of options, however, I can only imagine how the company representatives feel as they get bombarded with questions, resumes, and puppy dog eyes from hundreds of students pleading for a job or at least an interview.
The solution for both parties seems simple, and it's the subject of my column: No matter how outstanding you are, the rest of the applicant pool is just as smart and just as talented. Likewise, from the corporate perspective, the top students you want to hire all have countless options before them. The emphasis cannot just be on how wonderful an applicant is, or how prestigious the position is. Rather, the question has to move to one of fit: Is this the company that is most in line with my goals? Is it the one to which my background holds the most appeal?
In the real world, however, these sorts of questions are notoriously hard to evaluate. You often don't get a feel for the culture of a company until after you've worked for them for a while, and companies are well aware that the interview process doesn't tell them nearly everything they would like to know. The solution to that remains elusive. Whoever finds it will, I think, make the world of job-hunting a much better place. And probably make a boatload of money in the process.