It is never too early during your college years to attend a career fair. It is a great way to land an internship or job. It’s also great interview practice! I did not attend a career fair until my senior year of college. I think I waited so long because 1.) I didn’t want to take the time to edit my resume 2.) I hated dressing “professionally” and 3.) The thought of my career and talking to recruiters intimidated me. Eventually, I sucked it up and went to my first career fair! I made a bunch of connections and I actually had fun! I was kicking myself for not attending a career fair sooner. I think a lot of college students feel the same way I did, so I put together a list of tips to help you make the most of the career fair you attend.
1. If possible, get a list of attending companies before the day of the career fair. This way you can prioritize which companies you want to meet with first. Also, you can make sure you avoid companies that don’t offer anything in your field.
2. Do research basic information about each company you hope to interview with. A lot of times a recruiter will ask you “Why do you want to work for our company?” Or “What do you know about our company?” A blank stare is not the correct answer.
3. Do be prepared to sell yourself. Talk about your work experience, skill set and abilities. This is your time to show off how great of an asset you can be to the company.
4. Don’t chew gum, fidget with your hands, rock from side-to-side or play with your hair while talking to a recruiter. It does not look professional and can be misinterpreted as you being bored or disinterest.
5. Don’t wear your sweat pants, jeans, hoodies or cotton T-shirt to the career fair. Wear a business professional outfit. Ladies: a nice dress suit or button down top with a skirt. Gentlemen: suit and tie. Get more professional outfit ideas!
6. Do bring several copies of your resume to the career fair. Print double of what you think you will need. It is better to have extra’s than to run out. And you can’t go back to companies you didn’t like and ask for your resume back!
7. Do have some questions prepared you would like to ask the recruiter about the company. Like “What kind of entry-level positions (or internships) are available within your organization?” or “What are the characteristics of some of your most successful employees?” This is another time your company research will come in handy.
8. Don’t say anything negative about your college, previous jobs or employers to the recruiter. Keep the conversation positive. If you do it to others, you could do it to them. No potential employer wants that!
9. Do follow-up with every recruiter you spoke with. It is recommended to at least send a thank you letter.
College Career Fairs are a great way to network with potential employers. You never know who you will meet and the opportunities that will open up for you. Go for it!
Have you attended a college career fair? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.