The “big rona” has impacted a lot: concerts, travel, on-campus housing, pretty much everything except the cost of tuition. Many college students are worried about their job outlook, and luckily, colleges have moved their career fairs virtually instead of getting rid of them altogether. After being in contact with our Career Development Center and Engineering Career Fair Council, I’ve created a guide to successfully navigate your first virtual career fair.
Each fair is different, however, every virtual fair will need to be hosted on some online platform. For NC State University, the virtual career fairs will be hosted over 2 days on an app called Career Fair Plus. Instead of long in-person lines, students can reserve 10-minute time slots within the app to connect with recruiters. Be sure to know the date/times for your virtual career fair as well as the platforms your school plans on using.
- Before the Fair
I’ve gone ahead and created a checklist for things to do before the fair which can be found above.
Check Access to the Fair:
The first thing to do is make sure that you even have access to the fair. Ensure that all apps required to attend the fair are downloaded onto your device and ensure that you’re registered to attend!
Tip: Check internet connection prior to the fair.
Polish your Image
Many fairs require that you make a profile online first, so make sure that your profile exists and if complete. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to include any relevant experience to the role you are pursuing. Finally, pick out an outfit to wear to the event. You can probably pull off wearing sweatpants from the waist down, but make sure they like the part of your outfit that they can see.
Tip: If you are in need of professional attire, you can utilize the Career Development Center’s (or your school’s equivalent) free clothing closet.
Prepare to Speak to Recruiters
Research companies attending the fair, and ensure that you know a bit about them before speaking to their recruiters. If you have a 10 minutes time slot, odds are you’ll have time to present yourself, present your resume, and still have time to ask them a few questions.
Prepare an elevator pitch describing yourself, relevant work experience, and your interest in their company. An Elevator Pitch is a short informative and persuasive statement that generates interest in you and your work.
Example: Hi, my name is Cynthia Rios and I’m currently a sophomore at NC State University double majoring in Electrical Engineering and Economics. This past summer I interned at Lenovo as a Product Security Engineer Intern and was interested in learning more about your company’s summer 2021 internship program for a role in hardware engineering.
It’s also a good idea to prepare questions for recruiters which can be about the role, the hiring process, their work experience, etc. Below are a few examples taken from The Muse.
Questions about the Role
- In a typical day, what does [open role] do?
- What’s this team’s biggest goal in the next 6 months?
- Can you tell me a little bit about the different stages in the hiring process for [open role]?
- How long have you been at [Company]?
- What do you like about [Company]?
- What do you really enjoy about this role in particular?
Tip: Have a list of notes near your laptop in case you need some reminders throughout the fair.
- During The Fair
The time has come! It is important to treat the virtual event as seriously as an in-person fair. Dress professionally!
Remember: (if using Career Fair Plus) Some of your appointments will be through the Career Fair Plus App, others will be through Zoom, Webex, or other video conferencing platforms.
Tip: Add appointments + Video Conferencing method to your calendar and set up alarms for the day of the event.
Tip: Have a notepad ready. Be ready to ask for contact information and to jot it down to follow up after the fair.
- After the Fair
You did it! You're almost done.
The connections you made during the Engineering Career Fair will hopefully take you to your next job role whether that be an internship, co-op, or full-time position.
Reach out to recruiters you contacted during the fair and follow up with them. Connect with them on LinkedIn or write a “Thank You” email.
Apply for roles you're interested in, leveraging what you learned during the fair.
Finally, give yourself a pat on the back, you did it!
Final Note: This piece was inspired by and took a lot from a guide I made for NCSU’s fall Engineering Career Fair. This guide can be found here.