Career Fair: How to Effectively Prepare

We know the term “career fair” can seem overwhelming or daunting. Picturing an arena filled with hundreds of employers can definitely seem stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Read here to learn exactly how you should prepare in order to secure your greatest success upon arriving at your career fair. Even better, this article is being written by someone who has first-hand knowledge after attending one this fall!

Before the Career Fair Preparation:

  • Do Your Research: If you take one thing away from this post, we hope it is that you absolutely must conduct research on the attending companies beforehand. Not only will this help you navigate the fair and determine which employers you hope to speak to, but it will allow you to stand out. Chances are, each employer speaks to hundreds of students at each fair, so helping them decrease the need to give you their company overview will definitely increase your chance of them enjoying your conversation.
    • Extra Note: To aid your research, many universities provide online platforms that outline exactly which companies are attending and what positions they are offering (i.e. certain internships, full-time positions, etc.). Be aware and proactive in using your resources!
  • Practice Your Elevator Pitch: Even if you feel that you will be able to produce an elevator pitch on the spot, we encourage you not to do so. With career fairs come natural nerves, and nerves may lead to filler words, stuttering, stammering, and unprofessionalism when not practiced in advance. Keep your elevator pitch short and sweet, but definitely to the point! Include your year in school, major, potential interests, and if there is time, a short reason as to why you were drawn to the company you are speaking with.
  • Gather Your Padfolio: We encourage you to purchase some kind of padfolio if you do not own one already, as this will decrease the materials you are carrying and helps you appear more professional. Within the padfolio, you should print several copies of your resume to hand out to any interested employers. This useful accessory with help you combine a notebook and resume folder all in one! Remember to also bring pens.
  • Bring Anything Else You May Need: Whether this is a water bottle, chapstick, snack, perfume, deodorant, or any small item that will help you stay refreshed, bring it. It is completely acceptable to be carrying a small handbag with personal items. However, steer clear of bringing large backpacks!
  • Plan an Interview Style Outfit: While career fairs are undoubtedly lower stakes than are professional interviews, we hope that your physical appearance will still treat it as such. Remember that employers prepare in the same way you have, and will likely be standing for around 8 hours to talk to each of you. For that reason, showcase your dedication and care for presentation by dressing in business casual or professional clothing.
  • Arrive Early: If you are able, arrive at the career fair as early as possible! By being one of the first people to greet your prospective employers, you will be taking advantage of high energy and eagerness from both ends.
  • Walk the Premises: To gauge your environment and gain a general understanding of the career fair layout, we encourage you to walk around the arena before talking to a specific employer. This will increase your level of comfort and ultimately, confidence.

Now that you’re prepared… stay tuned for next Monday’s article…. how to achieve the greatest success during the career fair!

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