Mason students land jobs, and Career Services plays a big role in that success


There were many outstanding performers at George Mason University this past academic year, from musicians to actors to athletes. Less celebrated but no less impressive was the virtuoso performance of a determined IT major at a job fair, a star turn that commanded the attention of University Career Services representatives.

Christina Tran arrived two hours early to the Spring Career Fair on February 22 in Dewberry Hall on the Fairfax Campus to study the list of employers who would be sending recruiters. She Googled companies to find ones that best matched her career goals, then circled the locations of the booths on an event map to prioritize those encounters.

Christina Tran portrait
Information technology major Christina Tran had a strategy for the Spring Career Fair. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Office of University Branding

Over the course of five hours, she visited 65 of the 120 booths. And then, after the last hand was shaken and the last business card tucked away, she attended a three-hour reception that extended the fair at the Center for the Arts and visited 20 more employers there. Then she returned the second day and visited at least 30 more.

“First in line both days,” Tran said.

Her strategy paid off. Tran, who plans to graduate in May 2024, landed a position as a Microsoft Solutions consultant with FSi Strategies, one of six offers she said she received from employers she met that day.

“The career fair got me this job,” said Tran, 27, who wrote personalized follow-up emails to each employer she spoke with, drawing from notes she took during each conversation.

“You need to come ready—[business] clothes on, resume printed, know your elevator pitch,” added Tran, who previously worked at Deloitte and had several years of management experience at spas. “I’m career-ready. I wanted to prove that. I wanted a job, and I was focused and had a plan and did it.”

Tran indeed is a model student when it comes to attacking the job market—University Career Services was so impressed with her preparation and performance that they asked to take her picture at the event. Tran’s image now graces the cover of the university’s annual Career Readiness Guide.

Mason graduates land jobs. Based on the annual career outcomes survey and supplemental data collected from sources like LinkedIn and the National Student Clearinghouse for the Class of 2022, 87% of grads had a positive career outcome within six months of graduation and 89% said they are in positions related to career goals. Most settle locally—86% are employed in the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia. The respondents’ median salary is $72,000.

spring career fair
More than 120 employers took part in the Spring Career Fair. Photo by Evan Cantwell/OUB

The outcomes are similar to prior years. But even more Mason students need to increase their engagement in the job-seeking process, University Career Services Executive Director Saskia Campbell said.

Throughout the year, Mason offers 11 career fair days to provide facetime for employers and students and graduates. One is the Just-In-Time Hiring Fair the week after graduation, which drew nearly 100 employers and 700 job seekers.

“Most colleges and universities aren’t able to sustain an event that late in the year,” Campbell said. “It means that our job market is really, really strong and that there are opportunities year-round. There is always hiring happening here.

“It helps when graduates put in some effort and are flexible about where they’re willing to work and look at medium-sized organizations.”

Tran upped her career fair game after attending one that resulted in no offers. So for the next one, instead of showing up an hour after it started, she showed up two hours early. She spent more time on a professional appearance. She honed an informative yet tight elevator pitch.

“I really wanted to be recognized,” Tran said. “You have to be able to take what you failed from and jump back from it.”

The daughter of immigrants and the middle of five children, Tran was the first of the five to complete high school. At 19, while attending Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), she gave birth to a daughter, Collette. She graduated from NOVA with an associate of science degree, and examined her options.

“I knew that Mason and going to college was the only way to get to the future that I wanted,” she said. That includes her concentration in cyber security, with a minor in criminology, law and society.

Tran works with Mason tutors, mentors, teaching assistants to make sure she understands the course material. She color-codes priorities. She budgets her social time frugally, often focusing on events hosted by campus organizations she supports, such as the Vietnamese Student Association, the Filipino Cultural Association and the Society of Women Engineers.

Her best friend? LinkedIn.

Drawing from her own experiences and other resources, Tran has compiled a detailed checklist for job seekers, a list of tips that includes choosing attire, identifying prospective employers, and showing up with the proper materials. She does not judge the approach of other students but can see where a few simple but key adjustments—starting with utilizing University Career Services—could enhance their prospects.

“I could have chosen not to go to school and to work full-time, but I know I’m capable of finishing the program and a degree,” Tran said. “I feel like I’m meant for more. I love the stability knowing for certain that I’ll graduate and people will hire me.

“Mason has opened many doors for me. I’m motivated to get to a leadership position one day. I know I can make a difference.”

Drawing from her own experiences and other resources, Tran has compiled a detailed checklist for job seekers, including tips on choosing attire, identifying prospective employers, and showing up with the proper materials.

Class of 2022 Survey Respondents Report

University Career Services annually polls the previous year's graduating class to see how their career is progressing. Graduates from the Class of 2022 reported:
  • a median salary of $72K
  • 89% in positions related to their career goals
  • 87% reported career advancement within six months of graduating
  • 86% work in the Washington, D.C., region
For more information on this survey, please check out Career Services' Data and Outcomes information.


This content appears in the Spring 2024 print edition of the Mason Spirit Magazine with the title "Getting the Job Done."