Congratulations! You made it through one of the CRAZIEST weeks here at Purdue University, career fair week. Whether you attended PESC's Industrial Roundtable, SMEF's career fair or one of the countless other career fairs you probably had a long week. Hopefully all the conversations, stress and preparation led you to some great networking and job opportunities.
My week was spent preparing and attending the Krannert SMEF career fair. Over 100 employers, HUNDREDS of students searching for a job/internship, paper cuts from resumes, and elevator pitches being thrown left and right. It was a crazy day. This was my third time attending the career fair so I had a little bit of an idea as to what I was getting myself into, but it was still a tad overwhelming.
If the thought of going to a career fair scares you, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Putting yourself out there and making conversations with complete strangers is intimidating. Most people have some nerves when thinking about it (I know I do). Here are some of my tips and tricks for putting your best foot forward at a career fair.
Preparation is KEY! Not only will putting some prep-work into a career fair make you more appealing to employers, it will also give you a LOT more confidence. This is how I prepared for the BIG day:
Polish Up that Resume
Make sure you update your resume with the internships, jobs and/or experiences you had over the summer. I always forget to do this and am scrambling to make those much needed edits. Stop by the CCO at least week or two before and make sure that your resume is in tip top shape, ready to be handed to your potential employer.
Prepare an Elevator Pitch
What’s an elevator pitch? Great question. An elevator pitch is a 20-30 second speech that you can give an employer to highlight your experiences and qualities that make you fit for a job/internship. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! Practicing your elevator pitch in front of a mirror or another person is not weird. I highly recommend writing your pitch out and taking some time to memorize and perfect it.
Pick Out the Perfect Outfit
Planning out your outfit the night before the fair can alleviate some stress and give you one less thing to do the day of. The dress code is usually business professional. If you are unsure of what that means, check out our Pinterest page for examples.
* Don't have an outfit? Have no fear! Stop by the Career Closet on the second floor of YONG hall and pick out one FREE professional attire outfit per year.
Make a Plan
The biggest mistake I made the first time I attended the career fair was not having a plan. RSVP on your MyCCO account under Info Sessions & Workshops > Career Fairs and see what employers are attending. Once you know that, you can decide who you want to talk to and know where they’re located. I spent my sophomore year wandering around and wasting time because I didn’t know where anything was!
Do Your Research
Research the companies you are interested in and see if they have positions that you could fill! It is so much easier to talk to an employer when you know what questions you are going to ask and what job/internship you are going after. You don’t need to know EVERYTHING about a company, but showing that you know something gives the impression that you care.
To be honest, I didn’t know that these were a thing until THIS year. I was a little behind the game. Company information sessions give you the chance to meet company representatives outside of the career fair. You get to listen to company representatives share their story and get an insight on what they are looking for in a job candidate. Most companies even take your information at these events and will see that you made the extra effort to meet with them. Attending information sessions really calmed my nerves about some of the larger companies because I realized that employers are just people, too, and have been in our shoes! Information session dates can be found on the CCO calendar.
* For more information on Information Sessions check out our blog post 4 Reasons to Attend an Information Session
To sum it all up, PREPARATION IS KEY. I really can’t say it enough. Also, if you don’t land your “dream” position, please don’t stress. There are plenty of opportunities to be found online and additional career fairs to attend. The staff at the CCO are always willing to help out. Be yourself and you will find the right company and position for you. I hope you all can learn from my experiences and make the most out of your career fairs.
BOILER UP! HAMMER DOWN!