Successfully Navigating a Career Fair

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As the semester winds down, your university’s career center is busy preparing for their spring career fair. To land a summer internship or full time job after graduation, career fairs allow you to learn about various employment opportunities and network with recruiters.

Successfully navigating a career fair requires preparation, execution and follow through. The plan outlined below will aid you to fully maximize your career fair experience. 

Pre-Career Fair 

Before the fair, your career center will provide you with a directory of registered companies. This directory provides an overview of each company, their desired majors, employment opportunities and additional vital information. How should you utilize this information?

Step 1: carve out time to peruse the directory and circle organizations you may be interested in and/or need to learn more about.

Step 2: research the company. Review the organization’s website, specifically their “about us” and employment opportunity pages, and social media platforms. Take notes of their vacancies and information that resonates with you.

Step 3: plan your strategy. Divide your list of interested companies into two groups- A list and B list. The A list includes companies you are without a doubt, genuinely interested in, while your B list are companies you may be interested in, however you may be unsure.

After you develop your A and B lists, create your professional pitch. You will deliver your pitch when you introduce yourself and it answers the question, “Tell me about yourself?” This template will help you create your 30 second elevator pitch. 

During the Career Fair 

When you arrive to the event, take a moment to locate companies on your A and B lists and review your notes. I recommend interacting with companies on your B list first. Then, once you are warmed up, begin engaging with organizations on your A list.

After you deliver your pitch, engage in a further dialogue with the recruiter to learn more about the company and showcase your interest. Sample questions to ask can be found here. 

Post-Career Fair 

Your actions are crucial at this step. Not only should you apply to the positions you found at the fair; follow up with the recruiter to reiterate your interest and thank them for speaking with you at the event. Here is how you should follow up: 

  • If you obtained the recruiter’s business card, send them a follow up email. In your email, you can express gratitude about meeting them at the fair, reiterate your interest in the company, highlight the position you applied to, and attach your resume for their review. 
  • If you did not receive the recruiter’s business card, connect with them on LinkedIn. Send them a personalized connection request. Your message should include where you met (your school’s career fair), a summary of your qualifications and share the position you applied to.

I hope you find these tips helpful as you search for an internship or full-time job at your university’s career fair. I wish you the best of luck!

About the Author

Jessica Johnson

Jessica Johnson is currently a Recruitment & Onboarding Specialist at a national nonprofit based in Baltimore, MD. Previously, she spent over 7 years providing career coaching to undergraduate, graduate and professional students, developing employer relationships and planning recruitment events at universities throughout Maryland and DC. Jessica is a Certified Professional Career Coach, Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, certified administrator of the Strong Interest Inventory and has earned the Career Development Facilitator certificate.

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