A couple of weeks ago Purdue’s campus was filled with students in suits and numerous recruiters from companies all around the nation, career fair season had arrived, and it was in full swing. As an introvert, career fairs and other types of networking events are naturally very overwhelming for me, and I always have a fear of being overshadowed by those who are more outspoken than me. I understand the feeling of being the quiet and reserved one in a large group gathering as it is difficult for me, as an introvert, to continuously carry small talk. There have been many times in the past where I would pass up a very beneficial networking event because I couldn’t gather the courage to step out of my comfort zone. After living in this shell and seeing that I was not getting where I wanted to go, I realized I had to outgrow this shell that had been restricting me from achieving my goals.
Last year, I started pushing myself to go to events like etiquette dinners, information sessions, and different types of panels where I could meet and greet recruiters. Taking small steps like these made a tremendous difference in how I presented myself in front of new people. With every new person that I met, the more excited I was to continue fostering new connections. The last career fair I attended, I had some very memorable and engaging conversations with the recruiters from different companies. I mark these interactions as successes for an introvert because it can be difficult at times to break beyond the surface and have a meaningful conversation with someone I just met. I realized that having gone to different types of networking events and challenging myself to step out of my shell, I was able to feel more confident when talking to recruiters at such a big event like that past career fair.
Recruiters are not just coming to Purdue to seek individuals to fill positions at their company but they are also interested in fostering connections with you, by going to a career fair you are taking the first step in building what will hopefully be a fruitful relationship. If you mess up with one company, don’t worry because there are still so many more you can talk to! Having this personality type brings along its own set of unique challenges in the job search process, but by no means does being an introvert mean that you will be less likely to find a job. Purdue University offers so many resources for students to learn and develop into a professional and it is worthwhile to take advantage of these opportunities before you graduate. By taking the right steps to prepare and practice, even the most introverted person can succeed at a career fair!
Here are a few tips and tricks that may help you succeed at your next career fair:
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, AND MORE RESEARCH
For me, I was able to feel more comfortable talking to a recruiter when I had a clear and solid understanding of what their companies do and what industry they’re in.
Research also includes finding what role interests you and how you can see yourself in that role. Understanding the role that you’re aiming for will make it easier for you to talk about how your skills and experience in XYZ fit the role of XYZ.
SET SMALL GOALS FOR YOURSELF
These events can be very draining for introverts, set a goal that is approachable yet challenging for you. I made it a goal for myself to talk to at least 5 companies that I was really interested in.
Remember that going to a networking event, like a career fair, isn't necessarily about collecting as many business cards as you can but having quality conversations and connecting with other people. My ultimate goal with all my interactions, was to have a conversation that the recruiter will remember and not become just another blur in their memory.
PERSONALIZE AND PRACTICE
Personalize your elevator pitch to each company and practice your pitch with your friends, peers, or family. The more you familiarize yourself with your pitch, the more comfortable you’ll be and the easier it’ll be for you to express your enthusiasm when you talk to a recruiter.
Prepare a couple questions for the recruiter, asking questions is a good way to learn more about the company and to continue the flow of conversation. Come up with a few general questions that you can ask any company and have a few questions that are more unique and tailored to a specific company.
PLAN, PREP, AND PEP
Look up the details of the career fair and make sure you set aside an ample amount of time between classes or after classes so that you won't feel rushed. Also, map out where each company is that you want to see and make a rough game plan of how you will approach the fair.
Make sure you iron and lint roll your clothes before the event, practice your elevator pitch one last time, and print extra copies of your resume just in case.
Give yourself a pep talk before going to the event. Don’t give yourself the room to back out. Remember that being nervous is OK, this is an exciting opportunity for you and the beginning of your future! You got this!