5 Ways to Kill Your Next Career Fair

You’ve made it through the first month of college and reality is starting to set in. Whether you’re a freshman, a senior, or anywhere in between, it’s never too early to start thinking about life after college. While it can be stressful to think about when we add it to all the other responsibilities that Collegiettes are juggling, it’s important that we get a foot in the door now so that by the time graduation rolls around, we feel prepared to enter the business world.

Career fairs are one of the most important resources for a young woman in college to utilize in order to network with business representatives and introduce herself in a positive light. Here are some tips to settle your nerves about talking to recruiters and ensure that you’re the most prepared person at the fair.

 

1. Ask Someone to Edit Your Resume

Your college or university will most likely send out emails inviting you to come the advising center for resume advice before the career fair takes place. My biggest piece of advice? Go. Your advisors are the best resource for editing your resume and telling you if something should be reformatted, reworded, or even removed. If you can’t make it to the advising hours, send your resume to a parent, older sibling, or mentor who can give you valuable feedback.

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to print your resume before the fair, because most business representatives will ask you if you have a copy on hand. If you’re really on top of it, I recommend having your resume printed on specific resume paper. This will show the reps just how prepared you are and that you took the time to actually have your resume professionally printed. 

2. Come up With an “Elevator Pitch”

Many students worry about what they're going to say to the business reps. This is where preparing an elevator pitch comes in. The basic components of an elevator pitch are: your first and last name, your major/minor, any work experience you’ve had, and what you intend to do after college. This pitch should be no longer than 45 seconds. If you don’t have specific answers to the components of the elevator pitch, do you best to figure out what you would like to major in or what kind of work you would enjoy doing after college. These representatives are asked to go to career fairs not only to recruit students, but also to give them more information about the company if they are unsure what path they want to go down. Don’t be too intimidated or afraid that you’ll say “the wrong thing.” As long as you are polite and remain composed when talking to the reps, you will leave a good impression and set yourself up in building a relationship in the future. 

3. Know What “Business Professional” Looks Like

On Career Fair day, there is no shame in walking around campus in full-on NYC business attire. It is 100 percent appropriate (and 100 percent recommended) to present your most professional self to these representatives. That means no jeans, no booties, no leggings. I know business professional clothes can be pricey, but you really are investing in your future. You will need these clothes for the rest of your college career and beyond, so be sure to seek out nice clothes well before the career fair. The most basic outfits for girls range from a blouse paired with slacks and flats or a button-up shirt tucked into a skirt with heels. If you’re stuck on what to buy, Pinterest will be your best friend. 

4. Research the Companies Before Going to the Fair

If you ask your advising center who will be at the career fair, they’ll most likely have a list of the businesses that are coming. I recommend taking some time to thoroughly research these companies and find out what they’re about, what opportunities they have to offer, and what type of employees they are looking for. This is the hard part. Most students will just go up to a company because they’ve heard of the name before. Some of the best opportunities you may find are from businesses that you've never heard of before.

While you probably aren’t capable of listing every consulting firm in the Northeast, you’re going to want to know a good handful of them. If you really want to make the career fair worth your while, take time to research the companies and see which ones are the most important to you. Brownie points if you can ask the rep about specific internships or summer positions that they’ve featured on their website—they love that stuff. 

5. Email the Rep Back 24 Hours After Meeting Him/Her

This is popular rule-of-thumb in the professional world. After someone has taken the time to speak to you about job opportunities, you should always send them a follow-up thank-you email. This should not be a restatement of everything you told them at the career fair. Do not restate your elevator pitch in the email.

Your email could sound along the lines of, “Hi ____, my name is ______ and I am a second-year student at _____ studying _____. I wanted to extend my thanks to you for taking the time to speak with me at the career fair yesterday. If there are any opportunities to further discuss involvement with your company, please do not hesitate to reach out. Best regards, ____.” Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. This allows the rep to hear your name once again and show them that you really want this job. They love hearing from dedicated people who wanted to contribute to their business. 

There you have it: five ways to kill your next career fair. It is not as intimidating as it seems, and each career fair you go to will become easier and easier. Start early and get out there now, Collegiettes!

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