How to Work a Career Fair

It only seemed like yesterday when I heard my parents complaining about how difficult it was to find a job. I thought to myself, "Jeez, glad I don’t have to go through that right now," but just two years later, I found myself frantically researching companies and looking for internship opportunities. And then I realized that going to college career fairs is the best way to hack the job/internship search process. Read on to learn how to play your cards right at a career fair, avoid the laborious process of hunting for employment, and skip right to the paycheck!

  1. 1. Do Your Research

    woman writing in a notebook with laptop nearby

    I cannot stress this enough. Before walking into a career fair, do your research on the companies that are participating in the event! It may seem obvious, but people skip this step more often than not. Since it’s a never-ending process (you can never be too prepared), it’s always best to start early. Research things like the company’s values, history, available positions, employee reviews, and average salary of workers in the department you're interested in. This will not only help you gauge your own interest in the company, but will enable you to ask intelligent questions while talking to a recruiter or representative from the company.

  2. 2. Practice Your Elevator Pitch

    For those of you who don’t know, an elevator pitch is a quick summary of who you are as a student and a potential employee. It should be about as long as it takes to ride an elevator from the bottom to the top of a building. Include on-campus organizations you’re involved with, any leadership positions or previous internship positions you’ve had, and what industry or field you want to work in. In career fairs, first impressions really are last impressions and starting off on the right note will create a positive image of you in a recruiter’s mind.

  3. 3. Have Your Resume Ready

    job applicant handing her documents and resume to employer during interview

    Again, this is an obvious step that will help you grab opportunities at the slightest indication of an offer or a referral. Print copies of your resume and carry them with you to the career fair so you can hand it over to recruiters in case they ask for it. Most recruiters usually do ask you for your resume, especially if they think you’re a good fit for the role. Sometimes you may have to print out different versions of your resume to match different roles’ qualifications. Make sure your resume is neatly formatted and doesn’t contain any spelling or grammatical errors.

  4. 4. Stay In Touch

    Woman with phone at desk

    Since you can’t exactly phone up recruiters or business contacts to suggest a coffee date, you need to find other ways to stay in touch with them even if you don’t really have a reason to talk to them. The first thing you need to do after networking with a potential employer or company representative at a career fair is to send them an e-mail. Mention that you met them at the career fair and ask about what the next steps are for applying for roles in the company. Be sure to ask them if they would like to connect on LinkedIn, and if you think it’s appropriate, to schedule another call with them to talk about the company. 

Although career fairs may seem intimidating at first, participating in them frequently will help you get used to them.

And even if you don't end up getting a job or internship through career fairs, they always give you useful contacts and tons of experience you can use while preparing for the next fair!

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