Today’s college seniors are often under immense amounts of pressure trying to juggle their capstone course work, leading student organizations, and serving on volunteer committees (not to mention the stress that their football team inflicts). I’m willing to bet that career fair day ranks only slightly higher than final exams in terms of dreaded college experiences, because at least you get to wear a t-shirt to final exams.
Knowing that you have little to zero free time as a college student, here are 5 career fair tips that take less preparation than putting on your suit:
Imagine that you’re going to meet a favorite professor or academic advisor and are about to ask them for a favor for the first time. You would probably greet them warmly, ask about their day, and then dive into the specifics of why you are visiting. I would encourage you to approach a company representative the same way! Say hello and ask the recruiter/company representative how they are doing before giving your pitch.
Result – You will show that you care about building relationships, even in stressful situations.
Think of questions that work for all companies. For example:
- “What do you think entry level professionals at your company struggle with the most?”
- “What opportunities are there for professional development on top of learning on the job?”
- “I’m interested! What’s the application and interview process like if I get that opportunity?”
- “What’s the typical team structure like?”
- “What’s the number one thing about your industry that you think people misunderstand or should know?”
Result – You will have more meaningful interactions and be able to compare/contrast responses from different organizations.
Posture & Composure
Try tucking your portfolio under your arm so that you can more naturally use your hands when you’re speaking. Making eye contact, especially when introducing yourself, also displays confidence.
Result – Meeting new people and introducing yourself is extremely common in the workplace. When you are confident and poised, it shows that you are ready to interact with clients, partners, and other colleagues.
Save some of your stories for later. Keep in mind how many people are at a career fair, not to mention the hustle and bustle of the room can make it difficult to hear sometimes. Focus on demonstrating your interest and understanding of the company. If you get the opportunity to interview, you’ll have plenty of time to share more information about your experiences.
Result – Choosing the right form and forum for information sharing demonstrates emotional intelligence and good professional judgement.
Practice Makes Perfect
Do some practice rounds. Stop by 1 or 2 booths to practice before going to your favorite companies.
Result – The event will be all around more productive and enjoyable.
Finding your first full-time role out of college can feel like a daunting task, but university career centers offer so many opportunities for professional readiness and company interactions. If you’re not sure about your job search process, seek out their guidance and see what else you could be trying. By utilizing all of these tips, I hope your next career fair is your last. Go get that job!