Career Fairs Are Awesome!

Career Fairs are a thing of the past!  Employers don’t want to waste time and money attending them!  Students are not interested!

Well, I’m here to tell you that none of that is true.  Furthermore, career fairs provide students with the easiest possible way to make connections with people who might well end up hiring them one day.  (Networking!)  Picture this: an on-campus location where there are dozens of representatives from all sorts of companies just sitting around waiting to talk to YOU, the student!  Some of them are looking for full-time, entry-level hires but many are looking for interns.  How easy it is for you, the student, to initiate a conversation with an employer, hand over your resume, ask some intelligent questions, and end up making a great impression!  Maybe the recruiter will decide that next time they are hiring, you will be invited to interview.Web 1

Here are some of the questions I hear frequently from students at my college, with my responses:

Do I have to dress up?

It certainly helps if you dress appropriately, which means business casual, at the very least.  Is wearing a business suit overkill?  Not if you want to stand out for all the right reasons!

My resume’s a bit of a mess – does it really matter?

It sure does!  Your resume is the piece of you that employers will take away with them at the end of the career fair and it should be as good as it possibly can be.  Plan ahead and use your career center for help.  Go to a resume workshop or meet with a counselor and have your resume reviewed, allowing sufficient time to make any recommended changes.

Do I need to do any research before the fair?

Only if you want to make a good impression!  Recruiters hate it when a student sidles up to their table and says something like, “So what does your company do?”  If you are interested in interning or working for a company you know will be at the career fair, find out everything you can about it beforehand – and then impress the recruiter with your knowledge.DSCN0466

Fall and spring are the main career fair seasons and recruiters rack up impressive miles traveling around attending a series of fairs.  They will be talking to hundreds of students at many universities and colleges, and some of those students will end up being employed by them.  With a little bit of effort you can maximize your chances of being one of them.

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Paula Conrad

Paula Conrad is a transplanted Londoner who has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 20 years. She is the Internship & Career Fair Coordinator at Saint Mary’s College of California. Paula serves on the Board of Directors of the California Internship and Work Experience Association (CIWEA) and her particular area of responsibility is CIWEA’s annual Bernard L. Hyink Scholarship essay contest.