Its been more than a month since I have been in the US and things are pretty much falling in place. I happened to experience a fantastic thing that occurs every semester in the American universities, which I am going to describe in this post. Its called the “job fare”. Companies – big and small – come on predetermined days to universities where they are given places to set up their stalls.Graduate students in search of jobs or internships submit their resumes and the better ones are called for interviews and stuff.

Simple as this may sound, you may wonder what my role here might be, since I am a research student and not really looking for a job. The previous day, I went to Walmart with Aditya. I looked up at an insulated cup and exclaimed, “I’d buy this but its too expensive.” He asked me to wait until tomorrow, the day of the job-fare.

Inside a huge lush green garden in the campus, there were about a hundred colorful companies’ stalls and thousands of job-seekers all formally dressed up. On the tables were kept fancy stuff, which you were free to collect. Those interested in jobs / internships had to stand in huge queues and one-by-one reach the stalls, submit their resume and convince the company representatives to recommend their CVs up above the pay-line. Well, I wasn’t interested! And that gave me all the time in the world to collect the freebies. They ranged from pens and pencils to iPhone covers and mousepads.

I was brutal in garnering this free stuff. What could I do, had to prove my Indian-ness out there! Plus, my roomies were standing in those long queues hoping for jobs, so I further had the onus of “dhaap”ing stuff for them too!

After a while, my pockets were full of pens and paper clips and sanitizers so I started filling out my bag with heavier items like insulated mugs and water-bottles and more bags. When my bag too gave way, I went to my office and emptied the bags and pockets and went anew! Later, I got bored (sick, actually) of collecting pens and mint and got a little embarrassed too. But soon enough, I saw a 2x2x2 rubik’s cube (my favorite in the entire loot) and a yo-yo and suddenly my embarrassment disappeared. In fact, I was embarrassed about having gotten embarrassed and started “dhaaping” with a new vigor.

When I went to the Amazon counter, the lady eyed me suspiciously when I tried to grab a torchlight. Hesitatingly, I asked her if I could pick up the torch. She asked my major, I replied Mathematics. Both of us knew Amazon doesn’t hire mathematicians so finally, she was dejected and said, “Go ahead, and take the box too, it contains the batteries”. Well, it was awesome!

At another counter, there were cute little computer mice kept and I couldn’t resist saying, “Oh, a mouse!” The girl there replied, “No, its mint (packet) in the shape of a computer mouse” and I, dejected that it wasn’t a mouse, replied back, “Ohh, its a decoy!” Man, I can’t forget the annoyed look she gave me! Must be really proud of the company she belongs to.

The guy from Michelin tyres was cool. He asked my major and I replied back saying I really wasn’t out there looking for a job but going around, taking pics and.. “… and collecting freebies”, he completed the sentence. “Well, now your publicity is not restricted just to Formula-1 cars”, I said and he agreed wholeheartedly.

With three (free) bags full, I returned to my office. When I brought “some” of the stuff back home, my roomies were overwhelmed especially after I gifted them a SanDisk pen drive, a Schlumberger water-bottle and a John Deere cap. Tomorrow, I have a new MATLAB shirt to wear before going to the second and last day of the job fare!