Preparation is key for students who attend a career fair.
It is an opportunity to find internships, co-ops and jobs; it is a chance to meet potential employers. This could be the start of a student’s professional life, so the first impression is crucial.
There is no age or year requirement to attend a fair. Allison Otroba, a sophomore business major, already attended one in the fall.
“Although I’m only a sophomore, I think it is so important to attend these fairs,” she said. “They are great practice for upcoming job opportunities.”
So how do you prepare? The Career Services’ website lists numerous tips and advice before attending a career fair. One of the critical ones is doing your research.
Tyler Quince, a senior civil engineering major, has attended various fairs and said it is important to narrow down the companies you want to talk to by what they do, where they are located and what the salary is.
This will give you a better idea of what you are looking for and will help resist feeling overwhelmed at the fair. It is also important to take your time with the companies that interest you, Quince said.
“Take as much time out of your day as you can allow to talk to the companies, Otroba said. “Don’t just hand a company your resume and expect to hear back from them.
It’s important to make an effort to engage in a conversation with a recruiter.”
In a sea of students it is difficult for a company to remember you, so making a connection can be helpful. It is important to discuss the job, but also talk about relatable interests to make that lasting impression.
A career fair can be intimidating. Qunice advises a “warm-up” technique to help ease the nerves.
“After you narrow down the companies you like, you should rank each one, this way you can “warm up” or practice with a company low on your list before speaking to the ones you really like,” he said. “By the time you get to a company high on your list, you’ll have the small talk down and talking to strangers will be easier for you.”
Another essential preparation is to practice interview techniques. This means more than just knowing what to say your strengths are. The more you research about the companies, the more precise answers you can give to their questions.
Companies will be impressed that you are prepared and took a serious effort to make the most of their time.
As Otroba points out, “Career fairs are all about making connections and networking with your peers and associates.”
With this in mind, do all you can to make a good first impression. Clean up your resume and make numerous copies, dress appropriately, practice a firm handshake, do the research and be confident.