By: Samantha Branson
To many students, a career fair can seem foreboding, confusing, and sometimes, downright scary. There are so many things to remember, from what to wear to what not to say. Director of Communication Career Services Debbie Kubena stopped by to give PRSSA helpful advice on how to stand out at any career fair.
Before the fair:
- Practice your elevator speech
An elevator speech is a short, introductory speech that you may give to a recruiter. To keep their interest, it’s usually recommended that this remain concise. An example of this may be, “Hi, my name is Sam. I’m a junior advertising major looking for an internship this spring.” In this short sentence the student’s name, area of study, classification, and intent are revealed.
- Wear business professional attire
The goal of a career fair is to land an internship, or even better, a job. So go the extra mile when deciding what to wear in order to impress a future employer. Avoid t-shirts and shorts, or any athletic wear. Visit this article by CCS to further learn about proper attire.
- Research the companies
There will be 90 companies present at this career fair. That’s a lot of people to talk to, so narrow that number down. Make an A-List, B-List, and even a C-List of who you want to talk to. “Have an idea of what each company does and what their service is,” said Kubena.
- Bring enough resumes
Be sure to have enough resumes on hand for each company you plan to talk to, and then add five. Also, bring something to hold your resumes and to take notes with – like a padfolio – because you may find a company interesting at the fair that you were not interested in or overlooked when making your list.
During the fair:
- Make a game plan
There will be a map provided upon your arrival, so it’d be a good idea to start your career fair journey by surveying the room and finding the booths you want to visit. Bonus tip: get your nerves out by practicing your elevator pitch and conversing with the companies that aren’t on your A-List!
- Do not monopolize the recruiters’ time
As Kubena said, “Nothing will [annoy] them more than if they can’t get rid of you.” Therefore, plan five minutes per recruiter as a general rule.
- Do a little eavesdropping
Listen to the questions the person in front of you asks the recruiter. This will prevent you from asking the same questions.
- Do not pass out business cards
These are usually superfluous anyways because the same information is available on your resume.
After the fair:
- Follow up with the recruiter
Don’t forget to ask for each recruiter you visit at the fair for their name and contact info, so that you can send an email reminding them where they met you and about your interest in their company. Don’t forget to attach a resume because they may forward your email to the company’s head of recruitment. Do this ASAP; the sooner the better.
Follow this advice and you’ll walk into the career fair with confidence. But above all, remember to be yourself. The career fair is designed to help students, and what university has better students than The University of Texas at Austin? Hook ‘em!