Tips from the Career Lab: Conquering the Career Fair

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This career tip is by Bao Ho '21, career peer. Meet with Bao and other career peers during drop-in hours for the Career Lab

Career fairs present an opportunity for you to interact with employers and showcase your skills. Since it can be daunting to present yourself in front of your potential employer, the Career Lab compiled some tips and tricks to help you succeed during the fair. Follow these tips and tricks to make the most out of your Career Fair experience!

Clarify your goal

You should have a goal in mind when coming to the career fair, whether it is to find information about your job market or to seek an internship or co-op for the summer. This will help formulate strategy for your interaction at the fair. 

Research companies in advance

Review the list of employers attending the fair in Handshake before the event. Sort, search and filter by industry, job type and more! Identify organizations that you want to talk to and make sure to visit them first when you arrive at the fair. Be confident and ask insightful questions.  

Prepare your elevator pitch

Since each employer only has a small window of time to interact with each student, prepare an “elevator pitch” introduction to make a positive and memorable impression. Practice your introduction with friends until you are comfortable with it. 

Bring your resume

Make sure you have enough copies of your resume; between 20 and 30 is usually sufficient. Be sure to include your phone number and email address on your resume. If you need to revamp your resume, head to the Career Lab and let us help

During the event, prioritize your time

Highlight and prioritize those you are most interested in so you can organize your time efficiently. If your targeted employer is busy talking with other students, circulate and come back later.

First impressions are lasting impressions

Dress and act professionally. Your attire and manner carry the first impression. Walk confidently with good posture. Make direct eye contact and shake hands firmly. Also, remember to smile! 

Ask appropriate questions

Be sure to do your research! You don’t want to ask the employers something you can learn from their website. Also, answer questions clearly and concisely. There may be many people in line behind you, so you don't want to take up too much time. Ask if they are collecting resumes and business cards because you will want to follow up on interesting leads. Thank them for their time.

Broaden your focus

After you have finished with your list of employers, be sure to stick around and talk with other employers who are not on your list. You may be surprised by what you may find since many technical firms offer non-technical positions, and vice-versa. 

Follow up

After the Career Fair has ended, be sure to follow-up with individualized thank you emails to express your continuing interest. If you can, mention something you discussed in your conversation at the job fair.

Take action

For the companies you are interested in, follow the recruiter’s instruction. If during the conversation the recruiters requested that you submit your application online, be sure to do so within a few days while your impression is still fresh on their mind.