I remember attending the Job and Internship fair as a student here [many] years ago. It was terrifying. I left in tears. I hadn’t prepared properly, and had no clue what I was doing there, and certainly had not developed a strategy to be successful. Now as a career advisor many years later, here are my tips on preparing for the fair to make it a successful, tear-free day:
Stay awhile. Some students think they can zip in and out of the fair in between classes within 30 minutes, but usually that leaves too little time to make the fair with attending. If possible, ask if you can adjust your work schedule or make extra time in your day to attend at least 1 hour. There is usually time spent waiting in line to talk to certain employers, getting information, and time can fly by once you’re “in the zone.” So give yourself extra time to avoid feeling rushed.
Go solo. As tempting as it is to travel in a pack of friends at events like these, resist the temptation to stay with your comfort zone. When you go to any networking event with a friend, you are actually less inclined to talk to others compared to when you go alone. You also don’t want to feel constricted to anyone else’s schedule or goals except for your own that day. This is your day to be selfish!
Develop a game plan. Do your research before you walk into the fair. That is what I did not do as a student and it made for a horrendous and overwhelming experience. Use the Career Fair App to research in advance of the fair. You can even search by companies coming to recruit students in your major specifically. There are locations listed for each organization, but that does not mean that you have to work in that location. Prepare your questions for at least 5-10 organizations in advance. Go to their websites. Ask them something additional rather than “What positions are you recruiting for?” See our sample questions on our Career Guide online. Map out your plan of whom to visit and don’t forget that we are in three locations—the main lounge, sunporch and second floor ballroom. Make it a point to visit all three locations.
Open your mind. There are organizations that instantly grab your attention because of TV commercials or reputation. Be mindful of wonderful opportunities that exist at smaller organizations and in places you have never heard about before. You may feel intimidated walking into the fair, but remember some of the representatives are not necessarily solely recruiters and may feel intimidated as well. Take the initiative to walk up to someone and ask them questions, even if you do not know what their organization does just yet. You never know where a great opportunity is waiting!
Check out the Fall Job & Internship Fair on Tuesday, September 23! And make time to prepare.
-Written by Amy A'Hearn, Career Advisor